Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Confabulation. Now That Is a Great Word, But . . .

that is not really the turn of the screw for this installment. Let us consider:

Choice blindness

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In psychology, choice blindness is a phenomenon in which subjects fail to detect conspicuous mismatches between their intended (and expected) choice and the actual outcome.
Writing in Science, psychologist Petter Johansson and coworkers describe choice blindness in an ingenious experiment.

The subject is presented with two cards, on which different (female) faces appear. The subject is asked to choose which one he finds more attractive. In the non-manipulated (NM) version, the subject is handed the card that he chose and asked to say why he chose that one. In the manipulated (M) version, the experimenter uses sleight of hand techniques to switch the cards without the subject's knowledge and give the subject the other card.

The workers found that most subjects failed to notice the switch, and furthermore justified their decision using post-hoc confabulated evidence. For example, in a M trial, a subject might say "I preferred this one because I prefer blondes" when he had in fact chosen (and pointed to) to the dark-haired woman, but was handed a blonde.

They point out that his experiment allows one to investigate the relationship between choice and introspection.

Johansson concludes that he has found that some normal participants unequivocally produce confabulatory reports when asked to describe the reasons behind their choices and suggests that choice blindness affords some insight into the mechanisms behind truthful report.

Sounds like a fancy way to say . . . BULLSHIT. But it is self-bullshitting that seems to be the bull'seye of the target of that article. Elsewhere I have seen it said that some folk say that the ability to bullshit one's self is actually a built in component of the human mind, and might serve as a means to increase survival, and all that. But still, bullshit is bullshit, and I imagine those who can bullshit themselves are more likely to bullshit others.

Not that I am saying I am 100% unable to bullshit myself, but I think I am less prone to that than others.

I usually know the sometimes less-than-flattering truth about myself; and I have been known to admit it, more often than others.

But still, knowing it, and doing something about it shares basically the same relationship as the difference between good intentions, and good acts.


In any event I am still working on all that myself. But I think I need to turn my attention away from introspection here, and get back to more general commentary, soon.


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