A good quote

“Ah, there’s nothing more exciting than science. You get all the fun of... sitting still, being quiet, writing down numbers, paying attention... Science has it all.”- Principal Skinner

Friday, June 12, 2015

The Other Person's Hunchback

 There's an old Italian saying, "you can only see the other person's hunchback." This applies to how we see ourselves in relation to other people in so many ways......but none more telling than in defining our own biases. Over and over again, studies show that we see more bias in other people's decision-making than our own. And it isn't that we're over-estimating how much bias is in other people's decision-making, it's that we underestimate our own - we don't see our own hunchback.

A new study by Carnegie Mellon (HERE) shows how pervasive this is. The authors sum it up this way: “People seem to have no idea how biased they are. Whether a good decision-maker or a bad one, everyone thinks that they are less biased than their peers,” said Carey Morewedge, associate professor of marketing at Boston University. “This susceptibility to the bias blind spot appears to be pervasive, and is unrelated to people’s intelligence, self-esteem, and actual ability to make unbiased judgments and decisions.”

So if people are incapable of being objective decision-makers, how can we do objective research? The answer is, maybe we can't - not with perfect detachment. The best we can do is develop controls to limit the power of our biases when it comes to interpreting our data and drawing conclusions. Peer review helps.

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