[ExI] outrage

Dan TheBookMan danust2012 at gmail.com
Fri Jun 17 15:14:03 UTC 2016

On Jun 17, 2016, at 7:40 AM, William Flynn Wallace <foozler83 at gmail.com> wrote:
>  two big trends that are really great (IMO) is the overall global decline in poverty and violence. They simply didn't think either was true and thought things were getting worse on all fronts -- save for technology. (They were both technological optimists, but otherwise seemed pessimistic, which puzzled me.)  dan
> I hate to call it a phobia but I lack another term.  A form of superstition as well.  I refer to people's fear of predicting anything good.  If someone does, someone else will react and knock on wood or some other 'preventative'.  

Not that the label counts for much, but it's often called "pessimism bias." I believe it's a default setting -- at least in adults. If so, then it probably has some cognitive or evolutionary basis. And if it's merely default, then it can be unlearned.

> Then too there is the media effect:  mostly bad news gets reported, as we all know. This skews perceptions of overall good versus bad.  Good news today consists of kitten videos and the like.  Very solid effect:  good things are not nearly so good as bad things are bad.  Fear trumps everything (intended).

I think there's a recency effect -- what's seen or heard is believed to be more typical than it is -- and the visceral nature of certain reports trumps background knowledge or even makes people believe they don't need background knowledge. The important thing here would be looking at the base rate and finding out what overall trends are, which often don't have the same kind of immediate perceptual appeal... You know, showing a scene of a shooting seems more real than the long term trend of a decline in murder and violent crime.

> But maybe not.  Addicted gamblers seem to be opposite in this - less fear of losing than thrill of winning.'

It might be that most people have a pessimism bias, but a few don't. Or maybe these cognitive biases play out differently in different areas. I read somewhere that most people are optimistic about their future but pessimistic about future of everyone else.


  Sample my latest Kindle book, "The Late Mr. Gurlitt," at:
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