Observations of RAP

New York Post.

The picture is taken outside. A man is hunched over a bronze statue of a girl. The girl is wearing a dress and short-sleeves shirt underneath the dress. She is also standing with her hands on her hips with her chest stuck out and she has her chin held high while her ponytail swishes over her right shoulder. The man next to the statue is wearing a blue sweater with small horizontal stripes, the sleeves are partially scrunched up his arms. His hands rest on his knees. He is wearing jeans and tennis shoes. He has dark, thin hair that swoops towards the left of him. His eyebrows are arched slightly and his mouth is neutral. Next to the girl statue on the right is a small statue of an animal with its hind right leg lifted towards the girl’s left leg. The statue is a lighter bronze than the girl’s statue. They all stand on a dark bricked pavement that is raised above the concrete path behind them. Also behind them stands a crowd of people. On the right side of the picture is a little girl with a bright pink sweatshirt that says “GAP.” Behind the girl is an older woman with dark hair who is holding a bright pink-striped umbrella. Moving towards the left and farther behind the younger and older girls are two more women holding black and orange umbrellas. Directly behind the girl statue is a young boy wearing a black sweatshirt. His hair is dark. The last few people of the crowd are standing towards the left of the image, behind the man. The crowd has three more black umbrellas and a woman stands in the middle with a black hat and a phone in her hands that she holds close to her face. Behind the whole crowd is a street lined with tall buildings. They vary in color from pale white to brown and the sides are all lined with windows. In the very back of the picture there is strip of daylight and another tall building is visible, this roof is pictured and pointed. Lastly, a black pole holds yellow rectangles above the crowd’s heads and there is an American flag that hangs on a pole from the side of a building.

Comments on Reading Responses (Group 1)

Debunking Cognitive Biases Reading Response https://thewalrus7.wordpress.com/2017/09/05/debunking-cognitive-biases/comment-page-1/#comment-24

Your analysis of Pullman’s vague definition is very interesting. In a way, claiming that the definition is vague is reading against the grain. Just because the book offers us one semi-complete definition, does not mean we, as readers, have to take it for what it is. I thought it was also interesting how you then tried to complete the definition of cognitive bias and I agree with how you included consciously and unconsciously. I do not think we recognize our cognitive biases, and sometimes, I think a few cognitive biases are so ingrained into a subconscious part of ourselves that it would be difficult to even try and analyze it. In fact, I think this relates to Pullman’s additional idea on cognitive bias in “how our brains systematically fail to think critically unless we stop them periodically to inspect the quality of their output” (41). We will likely fail every time when critically analyzing something unless we are told beforehand to do so. On a daily basis, we do not think about why we are choosing this decision or explanation because there may not be a reason to. Is it necessary to think about our biases all the time?

I think it is also compelling how you included an analysis of your own cognitive biases and related it back to a connection between your relationships. I think the recency effect can relate to many things and your example supports this. The book also gives many examples of this, like watching the news and thinking the world is horrible or watching a public spokesperson (who has had a safe company for 10 years) talk about a morning tank explosion, and then thinking it is a unsafe company. I can relate easily to this recency effect because I often avoid the news because I do get in that mindset after watching it. Maybe if I begin to think critically after watching the news, I can understand that it is just the recency effect in play.

Finally, to answer your question on what is good and bad, I recently read a translation of the Dissoi Logoi, which essentially means opposing arguments, and I now have a different analysis of what is good and bad. I tend to agree with your definition, and I think a lot of people think the same thing, where good brings pleasure and bad brings discomfort. After reading the translation, and taking into account the Pullman readings and class discussions, I think it is possible that good and bad are indefinable. Many things that are good to one are bad to others, so maybe there can be personal definitions of good and bad, but I am not sure there can be a universal definition. This seems like it could present a problem, but reading against my own grain, maybe it is best that we do not judge things on good or bad but we analyze them and recognize both sides. If this were the case, it might be able to relate back to the whole idea of cognitive bias and how we systematically fail to think critically.

Shopaholic or Cognitive Bias?https://gracefullyemily.wordpress.com/2017/09/06/shopaholic-or-cognitive-bias/

I think your observation from work is very revealing because it is a real-life example of cognitive bias. The way Pullman describes biases suggests that it is something we see everyday and everywhere, but it isn’t always automatically recognizable. Unless we are in a setting like a school environment, we do not often consider all the cognitive biases that surround us. A personal example I can recognize in my life is sunk-cost bias. When I become too invested into something, I almost never give up because I think of my time before as wasted and not my future-time as wasted. This is something that happens to me frequently like something as simple as forcing myself to finish a random book that I’m not liking. Even when I decided on a degree to study, I took as long as I possibly could in order to make sure it was something I wanted to do so as to avoid a future sunk-cost bias. I knew I would feel obligated to finish my first degree choice once I was “too-far in.” If I’ve spent a significant amount of time on anything, I will not want to stop because I always think of my past time as wasted.

I thought your reading against the grain, and personal take on your own cognitive bias, was convincing because it not only questioned your own observations but also included another example bias, blind spot bias. Just like with many other things, it is easier to recognize faults in others and not ourselves. In addition, “the endowment effect,” another bias discussed in the book, can be related to this same idea but in the form of possessions. We tend to overvalue our own things and ideas, but undervalue others ideas and things. This can result in a problem because we never see fault in ourselves but are quick to see a fault in someone else. This also reminds me of the idea of “that could never happen to me.” Sometimes we forget to apply the rules to ourselves. Is there a way to recognize the cognitive biases, in others and ourselves, more consciously on a daily basis? Reading against the grain, is there a reason recognizing these cognitive biases should matter in cases that do not use persuasion? In fact, is cognitive bias something we only recognize for persuasive situations?

Reading Response Chapter 1/pgs. 1-19

Chapter one is about the evaluation of persuasive acts. As the author explains, this means being able to recognize and examine different tactics that people use when convincing others whether or not to believe an argument.

One section of the reading that I thought was especially interesting was the inductive reasoning section. Pullman describes inductive reasoning as a form of logical explanation. He explains that often times just one vivid example can influence an argument. This reminded me of the “one bad experience” idea. Pullman offers the examples of a dog attack and restaurant food poisoning to further explain and he recognizes how powerful these examples can be. I found his explanation to be particularly moving because I recognize this reasoning frequently in my life. In my family, we call it a bad “memory stick.” While we can recognize that it is irrational, it does not change our minds. Even if other people continue to eat at “restaurant A” and walk away healthy, my sister will not because of the one time she did not walk away healthy. Or maybe someone had a bad fall while at a hiking trail and he or she is now afraid to go back to that trail because of the bad experience. Pullman himself calls it a once-bitten error. In reality, it could simply be considered a traumatic, or at least relatively upsetting experience, that made someone swear off of something forever. These experiences follow the idea of inductive reasoning, where one event leads to a conclusion, but overall, inductive reasoning does not provide enough evidence to support an argument.

This illogical reasoning can easily be connected back to the psychological aspect of persuasion. Many times people cannot disconnect their own fears or beliefs to truly examine something rationally and this is what leads to inductive reasoning or, additionally, what the chapter covers as fallacies. One fallacy listed was wishful thinking. While wishful thinking may seem like a good thing in some cases, Pullman points out that it can be an error in developing a persuasive argument. Fear, another fallacy the chapter highlights, has times when it is useful but also times when it is wrongfully used to persuade someone. Both fallacy examples are deeply connected to psychology because they are strong emotions, hope and fear, that are rooted within us. This suggests that the psychology of emotions and traumatic events is linked to persuasion as whole because we are unable to separate the two. 

Furthermore, the chapter reveals that one has to recognize these psychological influences, or “logic” and fallacies, in order to delve deeper into a persuasive argument. It is easy to believe a convincing argument, but it is harder to analyze and question the argument in a way you would have never thought to before.