TITLE: Read My Blog AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: May 25, 2007 2:11 PM DESC: ----- BODY: If you don't how will you know how clever I am? Recently I wrote about the availability heuristic and how it may affect student behavior. Schneier tells us that this is often a useful rule of thumb, and it has served us well evolutionarily. But our changing world may be eroding its value, perhaps even making it dangerous in some situations:
But in modern society, we get a lot of sensory input from the media. That screws up availability, vividness, and salience, and means that heuristics that are based on our senses start to fail. When people were living in primitive tribes, if the idea of getting eaten by a saber-toothed tiger was more available than the idea of getting trampled by a mammoth, it was reasonable to believe that--for the people in the particular place they happened to be living--it was more likely they'd get eaten by a saber-toothed tiger than get trampled by a mammoth. But now that we get our information from television, newspapers, and the Internet, that's not necessarily the case. What we read about, what becomes vivid to us, might be something rare and spectacular. It might be something fictional: a movie or a television show. It might be a marketing message, either commercial or political. And remember, visual media are more vivid than print media. The availability heuristic is less reliable, because the vivid memories we're drawing upon aren't relevant to our real situation.
I sometimes wonder if my omnivorous blogging and promiscuous referencing of many different sources create a situation in which my readers attribute brilliance to me that rightly belongs to my sources. A little part of my ego thinks that this would be okay. (You didn't read that here.) However, if you finish the Schneier paragraph I quoted above, you will see that just the opposite is probably true:
And even worse, people tend not to remember where they heard something--they just remember the content. So even if, at the time they're exposed to a message they don't find the source credible, eventually their memory of the source of the information degrades and they're just left with the message itself.
So you'll remember the ideas I toss out, but you'll eventually forget that you read them here. And so you will not be able to blame me if it turns out to be nonsense... Maybe you'd better not read my blog after all. -----