January 19, 2012

Smart Arse

Every now and again I stumble onto a really good blog. You know the ones where they are bursting with amazingly informative articles and you can’t help thinking AHA I WIN! I didn’t spend any money on a book or a magazine or any sort of printed-type-thing, I have cleverly stumbled onto a thought-sharing goldmine and I get to sit here with a massive cup of tea and browse until my heart’s content. These types of blogs are the ones you can get lost in for hours, you keep clicking ‘older posts’ and then feel genuinely gutted when you get to a dead-end when you have exhausted yourself by reading them all. Now I will have to go and buy the book. 

Anyway, this new blog is called ‘You Are Not So Smart’, an American blog written by David McRaney who doesn’t claim to be an all-knowing all-seeing guru of the mind, but he knows some seriously smart stuff about psychology and I’m kind of into that sort of thing. His observations and findings remind me of a lot more focused and academic version of the class discussions we used to have in A Level psychology. That subject was a complete nightmare to pass (it’s so hard to analyse things that aren’t hard facts) but it was always very interesting non the less and my god we used to overshare. It was basically group therapy.

The subject of Psychology itself always baffled me slightly, as studies would take place in the most scientific of settings, yet, a lot of the ‘findings’ would still be open to interpretation. Lessons would mainly consist of us ironically trying to remember what our slides meant when presenting on Long Term Memory and trying to look pensive and clever whilst holding a plastic brain.

I always found it bizarre that psychologists would wear white lab coats and talk  about frontal lobes when it never really felt like science to me, more just social experiments. An aim, hypothesis, findings and conclusion in Chemistry would be concrete and evidential and physical. This Litmus paper that I am holding in my glove turned pink. However the conclusions in Psychology lessons would be Group A did this, Group B did this, and a mixture of Group C did this. This means, that potentially, this COULD MEAN this. I found it quite hard to tackle as you are proving a point based on previous research and your own two cents, but there’s never ONE definite answer. It’s subjective and complex. I’ll always remember that hefty Freewill Vs Determinism essay I wrote one night whilst getting wrapped up in a cobweb of complete distress as I contradicted myself over and over again until I ended with ‘as a result, we can see that the debate is ongoing’. The answer to that one must be tackled by someone else I’m afraid, pal.

So, I digress. The article that stood out for me on the blog was one from last year called “Illusion of Transparency”. This is basically what he said:

The Misconception: When your emotions run highpeople can look at you and tell what you are thinking and feeling.

The Truth: Your subjective experience is not observable, and you overestimate how much you telegraph your inner thoughts and emotions.

This is all about the way in which we often feel as though we are being perceived by other people based on our internal emotions or thoughts. The illusion of transparency is about how this is not the case. Thoughts can only be transmitted via some sort of communication. People second guess their surroundings based on what’s in their own internal dialogue which does not have any affect on the outside world. It’s common for people to base other’s reactions on what they are thinking themselves and thinking that external situations have been affected by your internal thought strings.

Anyway, I liked it. Read full article here: http://youarenotsosmart.com/2010/07/14/the-illusion-of-transparency/

@notsmartblog

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