You are so biased so how do you stop it

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
You are so biased so how do you stop it
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There’s this guy named Sid who wrote about cognitive biases over on Medium. Sid got me thinking about all the ways we make decisions based on wrong assumptions or biases.

He lays out ten, right?

And I just wanted to talk about the first two this week and maybe make this a series.

Why?

Well, because as Sid says, “Being aware of our cognitive biases helps to recognize their power in shaping our thoughts, opinions, attitudes and the decisions we make. Let’s check out these effects by analyzing ten cognitive biases that shape our world today.”

So, those first two are:

The Availability Heuristic

The Affect Heuristic.

Let’s start with the first one.

The availability heuristic

 According to the Decision Lab, the availability heuristic is a bias that “describes our tendency to use information that comes to mind quickly and easily when making decisions about the future.”

It’s basically memorable moments that are made influence our decisions in ways that they shouldn’t.

The decision lab has a great example.

“Imagine you are considering either John or Jane, two employees at your company, for a promotion. Both have a steady employment record, though Jane has been the highest performer in her department during her tenure. However, in Jane’s first year, she unwittingly deleted a company project when her computer crashed. The vivid memory of having lost that project likely weighs more heavily on the decision to promote Jane than it should. This is due to the availability heuristic, which suggests that singular memorable moments have an outsized influence on decisions.”

And this sucks because bad memories are easier to remember than good ones. And that means we aren’t making our decisions logically.

This happens because our brains need shortcuts. We like shortcuts because it’s less energy. So we recall the strongest facts, the most biggest memories.

The first step to avoid this bias is to know it exists, right, and maybe have a baby pause before we make our decision and think about why we’re making it.

The Affect Heuristic

According to the verywellmind,

“The affect heuristic is a type of mental shortcut in which people make decisions that are heavily influenced by their current emotions.1 Essentially, your affect (a psychological term for emotional response) plays a critical role in the choices and decisions you make.”

It’s another shortcut. And it’s about how good or bad something or someone feels.

They give this example:

“Imagine a situation in which two children arrive at a local park to play. One child has spent a lot of time playing on swings at a neighbor’s house, so he has nothing but positive feelings when he sees the swing set at the park. He immediately makes the decision that the swings will be fun (high benefit, low risk) and runs to play on the swings.

“The other child, however, recently had a negative experience while playing on the swings at a friend’s house. When he sees the swings at the park, he draws on this recent negative memory and decides that the swings are a bad choice (low benefit, high risk).”

Basically, we aren’t relying on facts to make choices; we’re relying on emotions. Politicians and retailers know this and use fear to influence decisions because fear is a really strong emotion.

Jerks, but clever jerks.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE


Don’t just always make automatic decisions. Pause. Sniff. Figure out where those decisions are coming from.

RANDOM THOUGHTS ABOUT PYTHAGORAS


SHOUT OUT!

The music we’ve clipped and shortened in this podcast is awesome and is made available through the Creative Commons License. 

Here’s a link to that and the artist’s website. Who is this artist and what is this song?  It’s “Summer Spliff” by Broke For Free.

AND we have a writing tips podcast called WRITE BETTER NOW!

We have a podcast, LOVING THE STRANGE, which we stream live on Carrie’s Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn on Fridays. Her Facebook and Twitter handles are all carriejonesbooks or carriejonesbook.

Carrie is reading one of her poems every week on CARRIE DOES POEMS. And there you go! Whew! That’s a lot!

Here’s the link.

best writing podcast WRITE BETTER NOW
Write Better Now – Writing Tips podcast for authors and writers
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loving the strange the podcast about embracing the weird
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Carrie Does Poems

Don’t Say “Epileptics Everywhere.”

“We need to ask ourselves: Are we merely depicting the world as they know it – or are we replicating a particular conventional sense of reality, reinforcing it, contributing to the stability of a word-view we ourselves have been fed.”

During the Super Bowl a person I know posted something about Weeknd’s halftime show and in the comments someone said this,

Epilepetics everywhere are not having a good time atm. Jesus, I can’t even have my head in the same direction as the TV.

Random Facebook Person

And I got a bit tweaked. I don’t know the person who posted that comment. I don’t know if she has epilepsy, but I do and her generalization?

It perpetuated a stereotype about epilepsy. And it also defined everyone who has epilepsy as “epileptics” as if that’s the one defining trait of us all.

Here’s the thing: Not everyone has the same kind of seizure.

They aren’t all big, dramatic, tv seizures.

Sometimes they can be petit mal seizures, lasting less than five seconds. It’s like blanking out but a bit more complicated.

Sometimes they can be a much longer seizure that involves both sides of the brain.

Sometimes they can be a person just having a strange sensation or smell.

Sometimes they can involve a repetitive motion.

But the thing is that not every person with epilepsy has the same kind of seizure and not every person with epilepsy has the same trigger or cause for the seizure.

There’s some more about seizure types here.

But, remember, according to this person on Facebook, “Epilepetics everywhere are not having a good time atm.”

Let me tell you, I have epilepsy and I like the Weeknd and I had a good time with that performance. Was I the only person with epilepsy who did? I don’t think so.

Because remember, just like how all people from one gender, one sexuality, one race, one religion, one job, one state aren’t the same? Well, neither are all people who have epilepsy or autism or ADHD or anxiety or depression or anything, damn it.

Yes. I swore. I swear when I get all self-righteous.

But let’s get to a tiny bit of facts so you can believe me.

According to the Epilepsy Foundation,

For about 3% of people with epilepsy, exposure to flashing lights at certain intensities or to certain visual patterns can trigger seizures.

That’s right. Three percent.

Whether this poster had epilepsy or not, it’s still important for her to realize that her experience doesn’t equal everyone’s experience. It’d also be great for programs with flashing lights at certain intensities to give that three percent some warning, too.

Generalizations are difficult to avoid but as writers and as human beings who want to build a better and kinder world, it’s important to think outside our own experiences and generalizations sometimes.


In a 2005 speech in Nashua, N.H., author M.T. Anderson asked the audience, “We need to ask ourselves: Are we merely depicting the world as they know it – or are we replicating a particular conventional sense of reality, reinforcing it, contributing to the stability of a word-view we ourselves have been fed.”

He was not talking about stereotypes in the sense of disabilities or issues of race, class, gender or sexual orientation, but his question applies to every author who writes a narrative that includes someone with a disability.

We have to ask:

Am I reinforcing stereotypes?  

Am I “contributing to the stability” of stereotypes that I learned as a child?

I’ve discussed in the past how disability stereotypes can be avoided when we’re writing our characters. And I’ll keep discussing it in the future.

In his study, Colin Barnes wrote,

“Disabling stereotypes which medicalize, patronize, criminalize and dehumanize disabled people abound in books, films, on television, and in the press. They form the bedrock on which the attitudes towards, assumptions about and expectations of disabled people encounter daily, and contribute significantly to their systematic exclusion from mainstream community life.” (5)

Barnes

One reason children with epilepsy need good books about their disorder is because society needs those books, too. Social media proves that over and over again.

Society needs those books to combat discrimination and to enlighten its members.

Epilepsy Foundation-convened group on photosensitive seizures, published in 2005. (Harding, G., Wilkins, A., Erba, G., Barkley, G.L., & Fisher, R. (2005). Photic- and Pattern-induced Seizures: Expert Consensus of the Epilepsy Foundation of America Working Group. Epilepsia, 46(9), 1423-25. doi: 10.1111/j.1528-1167.2005.31305.x.)

LET’S HANG OUT!

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And Carrie has new books out! Yay!

You can order now! It’s an adult mystery/thriller that takes place in Bar Harbor, Maine. Read an excerpt here!

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The people who kill

It’s my book! It came out June 1! Boo-yah! Another one comes out July 1.

And that one is called  THOSE WHO SURVIVED, which is the first book in the the DUDE GOODFEATHER series.  I hope you’ll read it, like it, and buy it!

The Dude Goodfeather Series - YA mystery by NYT bestseller Carrie Jones
The Dude Goodfeather Series – YA mystery by NYT bestseller Carrie Jones

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