Manipulated, Misdirected, Mislead – who me?!
How are you being manipulated Misdirected and Mislead by single issue pressure groups and the media?
“What you see is all there is” – therefore evaluate what you see, don’t go looking for extra information unless it is easily available zovirax dosage. Your brain tends to react very quickly to information it receives, it doesn’t spend time evaluating the information if it can get away with it. This leads to wonderful opportunities to mislead and misdirect you.
Paul Slovic introduced the term denominator neglect. If your attention is drawn to a specific number, you do not assess the number on the other side of the equation with the same care.
Vivid imagery also contributes to denominator neglect, as you can see in this well-known experiment participants are given a choice of drawing a marble from one of two urns, in which red marbles win a prize:
Urn A contains 10 marbles, of which 1 is red.
Urn B contains 100 marbles, of which 8 are red.
Which would you choose?
When I think of the small urn, I see a single red marble on a vaguely defined background of white marbles. When I think of the larger urn, I see eight winning red marbles on an indistinct background of white marbles, which creates a more hopeful feeling.
Which did you choose?
The distinctive vividness of the winning marbles increases the decision weight of that event, enhancing the possibility effect.
Manipulated, Misdirected, Mislead
The idea of denominator neglect helps explain why different ways of communicating risks vary so much in their effects. If you read in an article that
“A vaccine that protects children from a fatal disease carries a 0.001% risk of permanent disability.” The risk appears small. Now consider another description of the same risk:
“One of 100,000 vaccinated children will be permanently disabled.” The second statement does something to your mind that the first does not: it calls up the image of an individual child who is permanently disabled by a vaccine; the 99,999 safely vaccinated children have faded into the background.
As predicted by denominator neglect, low-probability events are much more heavily weighted when described in terms of relative frequencies (how many) than when stated in more abstract terms of “chances,”“risk,” or “probability” (how likely). Your brain is much quicker at dealing with individuals than categories.
The power of format creates opportunities for manipulation, which people with an axe to grind know how to exploit. Slovic and his colleagues cite an article that states that
“Approximately 1,000 homicides a year are committed nationwide by seriously mentally ill individuals who are not taking their medication.”
Another way of expressing the same fact is that
“1,000 out of 273,000,000 Americans will die in this manner each year.”
Another is that
“The annual likelihood of being killed by such an individual is approximately 0.00036%.”
“1,000 Americans will die in this manner each year, or less than one-thirtieth the number who will die of suicide and about one-quarter the number who will die of laryngeal cancer.”
Slovic points out that “these advocates are quite open about their motivation: they want to frighten the general public about violence by people with mental disorder, in the hope that this fear will translate into increased funding for mental health services.”
Manipulated, Misdirected, Mislead
A good Lawyer who wishes to cast doubt on DNA evidence will not tell the jury that “the chance of a false match is 0.1%.” The statement that “a false match occurs in 1 of 1,000 capital cases” is far more likely to pass the threshold of reasonable doubt. The jurors hearing those words are invited to generate the image of the man who sits before them in the courtroom being wrongly convicted because of flawed DNA evidence.
Source: Daniel Kahneman. Thinking, Fast and Slow (p. 330).
… there is always MoreThan1Answer