Archive | Overthinking

13 July 2015 ~ 0 Comments

How Do I Tape It?

I was at the store today getting some groceries, and there was a youngish looking clerk.

The person, who by context I’d assume to be his supervisor, asked him to tape a sign onto a counter.

The young clerk replied “How do I tape it?”

The supervisor, without skipping a beat, instructed the young clerk to get some tape, and tape it to the counter.

Now.. does anyone REALLY think that this young clerk didn’t know how to tape something? Somehow got to the ripe old age of 19, without ever using tape?  He seemed to know where the tape was, and how it worked… so why did he ask?  Why did he want to know “How to tape it”

If you look at the situation there’s a couple of possible explanations that I think may explain how for that split second, the young clerk miraculously forgotten everything about how to tape.

The first thing is that we’ve instilled such terror in people of failure.  If you step out of the group, somebody might look at you.  They’ll laugh at you, they’ll notice that weird thing on your head, you didn’t shine your shoes this morning, and everybody knows facial hair is in style.

If you do something at work, to change the way you perform a task – it might not work, and if it doesn’t work you’ll be outed as a fraud, you’ll get fired, you’ll become homeless, you’ll starve to death, and you’ll die on a park bench in the middle of winter.

So what do we do?  We just sit there, we stay in the heard where it’s safe.

It wasn’t that the clerk didn’t know how to use tape, but if he just goes and does it.. oh my goodness what if the line isn’t just perfect, or the tape should have gone the other way, he’ll lose his job!

So instead, he asks how to do it.

So now, and this is the second point, now it’s no longer his fault.  He asked his supervisor how to do it, and his supervisor told him what to do, so he went and did it. It’s not his responsibility if he used the wrong kind of tape, because he asked his supervisor and his supervisor told him to do it.

If he had just gone and put the tape on it, he would have saved both of them time – he also may have came up with a way that nobody there had ever thought of, that made the sign much more effective, gotten noticed from the supervisor, and became next in line for a promotion…. but on the other hand, he could have done it wrong.

We have to learn how to accept that fear, because that is where art happens.

This is where those 20 somethings that create websites worth millions of dollars come from, not because they’ve reinvented the wheel, but because instead of asking their supervisor how to tape it, they decided to just do it — and in the process, they stumble across something that is truly Remarkable.


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25 June 2015 ~ 0 Comments

Survivorship Bias: The Color Oracle

I’ve seen a rash of this image and link being shared on Facebook, and I thought it would be an interesting example of Survivorship Bias.

Survivorship Bias is the theory that your perception is based on the viewpoints you see — the things that survive.

You Are Not So Smart discusses this using an example from World War II.  The blog post shares a story about how they were trying to make the bombers safer while flying their planes, planes would return with bullet holes in them.

Naturally, you would reinforce the areas where you see the bullet holes having penetrated the plane.

This is Survivorship Bias, your data is based solely on the planes that returned.

Instead, they decided to reinforce the areas where they did NOT see bullet holes, under the assumption that those areas were weaker – because the damage they were able to see, were on people that made it back successfully.

They were right.

This post about the “Color Oracle” will share the same principle.

You’ll notice virtually everyone who shares this on their timeline, will tell you how accurate it is.

How incredible it is that it was so correct.

You could be easily lead to believe that this is right, and even interpret your results to try and make it ‘more correct’ because you are in the belief that it is supposed to work.

The reality, beyond the fact that these are general qualities that most people can relate to, is that most people who do not see it as accurate, see it as average.  They do not share it.

The people who find themselves with a complete match, are shocked, amazed, and want to tell everyone.. wow.. it works! How amazing!

Every person I have seen share this has boasted it’s accuracy, based on that exposure it would seem as though it has a 100% Success rate.

But does it?  Who knows, really, exactly how many people it actually works with.. for me it was about 70% accurate I felt..

It could be as low as 0.0001% Accurate.. it could be so incredibly inaccurate that it’s creator is shamed from the psychological community.

But from an outside perspective, when all we see are the survivors, we can easily believe it is right 100% of the time.

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