mart3001: April 2012 Archives

Does Reality Even Exist?

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We all like to think of ourselves as level-headed individuals who can look at things from an even-keeled perspective. We don't think we have biases, because we see things as they are. The thing that stuck out to me the most this year in psychology is how untrue this is. Like Chris French's post about a man who was convinced he had undeniable evidence that there were weird spirits occupying his home, I've come to realize how many things I think are simple facts but really are results of my own biased perspectives. I think a lot of this is from the Correlation vs. Causation fallacy. I see test scores of people who are poor and assume that their lack of intelligence causes them to have no money. I decide to see it this way because it offers me comfort in knowing that my high ACT score will guarantee me success in life. I WANT to see it this way. The reality of the situation is that just because low test-scores are correlated with poverty, the cause probably lies outside both realms. Being born into underprivileged situations denies poor people proper education, health care, and safe environments, all of which are things that contribute to high test-scores and success in life.


One of the things concerning lie detection that really stuck out to me was how lie detectors are often most successfully for their ability to elicit confessions from someone who has failed a polygraph test and actually was lying in the first place. Often when someone is in fact lying when they take the test and then end up failing it, they don't know that they could make the argument that the test is far from conclusive or that it is inadmissible in court. Once they fail it they panic and assume that their act is up and then proceed to spill the beans.
This makes me wonder if a better way to detect lying is to not solely trust the results of the polygraph test itself, but see how people react when the test is over. If someone fails the test and starts insisting that something must be wrong with the test, they're probably an honest person. If someone fails the test and then admits to their lies, then they're probably lying after all. Although, even this method seems really easy to fool.
I think another interesting thing about polygraph tests is how they can sometimes convince people they are lying if the test says they are. For instance, I remember watching this T.V. show where a woman was asked if she loved this specific man and she said no but the polygraph test said that was a lie. Suddenly, she questioned if she did love the man and fooled herself into thinking she loved him.
Overall, Polygraph tests seem to be a big waste of time to me. They're hypocritical in the sense that they might be telling the biggest lie of all when deciding if someone is lying.

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This page is an archive of recent entries written by mart3001 in April 2012.

mart3001: February 2012 is the previous archive.

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