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View Full Version : The General Interesting Science Thread


Punaxe
18-05-09, 21:49
I don't know about you, but mostly when I read books or watch TV, it's science stuff and I often come across those little things that are really interesting. Assuming I'm not the only one, I thought we could use a place to share these little things with each other :D

As science befits, mention source if possible.
Please share! :tmb:


Most recent one for me:

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Leonard Mlodinow, during a lecture for the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics (http://www.perimeterinstitute.ca/Outreach/Public_Lectures/View_Past_Public_Lectures/) (check out that link if you like TED) about his book The Drunkard's Walk, talked about the influence of randomness in life and our interpretation of things.

Of many interesting points he made, there was one that was quite striking about how people can be influenced. The example was as follows.

In a test, there were two questionnaires with two questions each, and each person was given one of those sheets. The second question was always the same: "How many countries are there in Africa?"
Consistently, in numerous repeats, the first group (people with the first questionnaire) always estimated this number to be about twice as large as the second group.

What could have made the difference?
Well, the first group was asked: "Are there more than 180 countries in Africa?"
While the second group was asked: "Are there more than 5 countries in Africa?"
It seems our judgment can be influenced by a context that is in a way forced onto us.

--

Other interesting things he mentioned were about human prediction.

In an experiment where a red light goes on four out of five times and a green light goes on one out of five times, humans will understand this pattern and when asked to predict, will guess red 80% of the time and green 20%. Ultimately, this gives humans a worse prediction rate than rats, who would guess red 100% of the time.

--

When asking people if they could predict the outcome of coin flips, people would, knowing it was a random process, say "no". However, when asked slightly different questions such as "do you think your prediction ratio would improve with practice?" and "would your performance be hampered by distraction?", their knowledge of it being random didn't stop them from answering "yes" (25% and 40% respectively).

rowanlim
19-05-09, 02:43
Wow...

These:
It seems our judgment can be influenced by a context that is in a way forced onto us.

However, when asked slightly different questions such as "do you think your prediction ratio would improve with practice?" and "would your performance be hampered by distraction?", their knowledge of it being random didn't stop them from answering "yes" (25% and 40% respectively).

Too cool :tmb: