Monday, August 5, 2019

How We Know What Isn't So - Book Report

This was a very excellent read about all the things we cover in class along with some extra bits of information that I found to be very interesting. The author, Thomas Gilovich, asks the question of when can we trust what we believe and how are these beliefs supported? He talks about commons beliefs and superstitions that people have then basically tears them apart by explaining that they simply aren't true. He questions things in everyday life that I haven't even thought about and really tries to make the reader think about such beliefs and how false they truly can be. He illustrates his points with examples and supports them with the latest research findings. He also documents the cognitive, social, and motivational processes that distort our thoughts, beliefs, judgments and decisions. There are so many biases, beliefs, superstitions and "facts" that I never thought to question, until I read this book. 

The author discusses the topic of misconception and how people misconceive information so easily. This can also be related to false memories because he discusses how some things that you think happened, didn't actually happen. The author also discusses illusions and how they can alter your thoughts into believing certain things. People that believe they've been abducted by a UFO or think they saw the jersey devil should read this book in order to gain information and perspective on the facts of those fantasies that he discusses. Lastly, he talks about challenging beliefs and the role of social science. This really tied into the lecture about pseudoscience and ways of thinking by capturing why people think/ believe certain things. 

My favorite part of this book was when he discussed the topic of the "hot hand" in sports. This is something that nearly everyone has talked about and thought to be true in most instances. People believe that players that are on a hot streak are more likely to play well in the game/play following that performance. After many experiments and research conducted, there is evidence to believe that the way a person performs prior to their current performance has absolutely no effect on how they perform after their "hot streak" or "cold streak". For example, when a basketball player is having a really impressive game people believe that they would have a better chance at making a penalty shot than a player that is a having an okay game. That is false. Something interesting that I've learned from this book is that people's performance has no influence on how well they do. It is still the same chance that they would miss the shot. This could be applied to anything as well. Some people believe strongly in certain stocks because of how they've done previously, but those stocks have the same chance of either crashing or succeeding. I just thought this to be interesting because many people believe in the hot hand when actually sometimes those players end up doing worse. This is something that I've always thought to be true when I should have been questioning all along!

This video goes into the statistics and specifics of the hot hand and breaks down the belief using numbers. Enjoy!

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