Posts tagged psychology

greatergood.berkeley.edu greatergood.berkeley.edu
"Shockingly, they found a positive and statistically significant relationship between the amount of coverage dedicated to mass shootings and the number of shootings that occurred in the following week."
I wish more people knew about the media contagion problem—especially people in the media.
conceptuallabor.com conceptuallabor.com
I really enjoyed this essay about Conceptual Labor. Sometimes the work we need to do is understanding the work we need to do. It reminded me of a favorite saying of mine by Victor Frankl that if you have a why you can get through almost any how. (Paraphrased, it's from Man's Search for Meaning which I should reread.) I think I saw this link on Mastodon, but not finding links again is my theme today.
The Verge The Verge
image from The Verge
Casey Newton is back with another look at the human cost of social media.
I asked Harrison, a licensed clinical psychologist, whether Facebook would ever seek to place a limit on the amount of disturbing content a moderator is given in a day. How much is safe?

“I think that’s an open question,” he said.
Important reporting here that I hope will help people that these powerful corporations are forgetting.
Wired Wired
image from Wired
“In a connected, searchable world, it’s hard to share information about extremists and their tactics without also sharing their toxic views... Labeling extremist content or disinformation as ‘fake news’ doesn’t neutralize its ability to radicalize.”
This article describes the information contagion problem perfectly. I wonder if all information should come with specific instructions to stay grounded after consuming it.
nytimes.com nytimes.com
image from nytimes.com
I’ve been meaning to post this article ever since it came out but I’m being compassionate with my past self about not doing it yet. My future self is used to disappointment so that guy should be pleasantly surprised it’s off his plate. Anyway, lots of good psychology here to help with productivity. Add reading it to your to-do list.
The Verge The Verge
cover image from The Verge
I have to link to this excellent reporting by Casey Newton. This is an important article that shows the human cost of maintaining large centralized social networks. I think it also reveals a sick society where people are constantly uploading psychologically scarring material that other people then have to sift through. I felt like Facebook's response was weak—at some point the we're growing too fast to keep up and we're so new at this doesn't work. As Bloomberg points out, companies have always said artificial intelligence is just around the corner to save the day. I think that's why companies view human moderators as a failure of technology rather than a key piece of their success. Matt Haughey ran an indie corner of the open internet for years and knows Content moderation has no easy answers. Just because it's hard doesn't mean we shouldn't hold Facebook accountable. They made decisions that created this problem and it's a shameful aspect of the internet we need to fix.
Tim Harford Tim Harford
"Trying to get some work done with an internet-enabled device is like trying to diet when there’s a mini-fridge full of beer and ice cream sitting on your desk, always within arm’s reach." Here’s yet another fascinating digital-habit-changing story. I like the connection he makes with economic psychology. I do think we're all working with the Endowment effect and Escalation of commitment as we consider the value of digitizing every aspect of our lives.
latimes.com latimes.com
image from latimes.com
I agree with this. Repeating a frame or an idea—even to mock it—distributes and strengthens that idea. I love Colbert but I stopped watching a long time ago. Laughing wasn't enough to make up for the disturbing source material. It reminds me again that the old Internet cliché don't feed the trolls is something the media hasn't adopted yet. See also the great way Jay Smooth put it: Don't Link to the Line Steppers.
Towards Data Science Towards Data Science
image from Towards Data Science
“The data we are shown is not the only data there is.” A good description of a statistical analysis problem and a reminder to think about causes of data not just data you see in front of you. This reminds me of that old zen saying don’t confuse the moon with the finger that points at it.

Making Unconscious Rules Conscious

Every couple days I visit How (Un)Popular is the President? by FiveThirtyEight to see what the polls show. And every day I am amazed that it doesn't change. I've read the articles that say 42% is still a historic low, but knowing that the family separation policy was widely known in mid-June and seeing the support number stay the same and then improve is discouraging.

When I look at the demographics of that 42%—they look a lot like me. I've been trying to understand why I have a strong negative reaction to what I see while people who are similar to me do not.

I tried to write down a list of rules that are constantly running in my brain that help me understand the world. As stimulus from the outside world comes in, I filter it through some process and then make decisions about how to react. This process has built up over time based on my experience and I don't even think about how it works anymore—it's just who I am. I gave each rule a one-word alias so they would be easier for me to remember and spot them as they're working.
  • All humans are real, complex people who experience love and have hopes & dreams. (Respect)
  • Not all sources of information are alike. Journalists are a better source of information than companies, governments, or peers even though these will be better sources for specific information at times. (Discern)
  • Learn from diverse sources past and present; nuance exists and expanding your vocabulary can help you express and comprehend complex ideas. (Read)
  • Our systems of governing and commerce are currently unfair with winners and losers. Zero sum competition is the business environment but not the entire human experience. Someone else's success does not diminish you. (Balance)
  • Use power available to you to make the unfair world more fair for everyone. Help people in a weaker position. Vote every time. Frame issues when you talk about them. (Participate)
  • Trust your own mind and observations and continually work to improve them. Skepticism of authorities is healthy. (Question)
  • It is good to care about people and things you love and believe in. (Care)
  • Make friends both online & off but spend more time with people in physical space. Listen carefully. (Connect)
  • Doing things a different way from the majority is ok. Understand why things are popular but don’t feel compelled to follow. (Diverge)
  • Think about how things you say and make could be interpreted and used in different contexts and change if it makes the world less fair. (Imagine)
  • Wild, undeveloped spaces in our physical world are a source of inspiration so spend time there if you can. (Restore)
I don't perfectly execute these unconscious rules everyday, but my theory is that they're a core part of how I process the world. I'm sure there are rules that I'm not aware of yet. I can't wave a magic wand and know what rules guide other people, but maybe trying to make my own rules conscious will help me understand how I'm processing the world.
  • Buster Benson put together this concise way to think about cognitive biases by grouping them into four big problems our brains have evolved to deal with. There's a lot to think about (potentially systemically irrationally) here.
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