The Story In Our Heads 📖 #123
It’s hard to ignore Ukraine. 🇺🇦
Shock, outrage and worry are some of the words.
My heart goes out to all of those caught up in the chaos.
Seismic events are like buses
They come along in threes.
Scientists studied the claim that ‘bad things come in threes’.
They found nothing.
What we do know is that to make sense of chaos, humans look for patterns in data.
Something about nothing.
Sometimes we look for something that isn’t there.
We try and fit data to an existing idea of our own making.
In science, the acute form of this is known as Apophenia.
Apophenia was first described by German neurologist, Klaus Conrad in 1958, during his studies into schizophrenia.
“unmotivated seeing of connections [accompanied by] a specific feeling of abnormal meaningfulness”
Ever heard of p-hacking?
My Insightful colleague, Adam, was talking to me about a similar thing called ‘data dredging’ aka ‘p-hacking’.
Even the research pros are susceptible to searching for data to fit a pre-existing story.
Here’s Wikipedia’s version. 👇🏼
Data dredging (or data fishing, data snooping, data butchery), also known as significance chasing, significance questing, selective inference, and p-hacking, is the misuse of data analysis to find patterns in data that can be presented as statistically significant, thus dramatically increasing and understating the risk of false positives.
Why do we look for something that isn’t there?
Our brains like to knit data together — to create a story that we tell ourselves is true.
In a chaotic world, it’s easy to see why our brains like to spin the yarn. We love storytelling — it’s intuitive. It’s how our brains work.
A story is not always an accurate version of events.
Just like a movie about real-life. Characters and events get changed to make the story neater.
Exactly what our brains do.
There’s another thing that gets in the way of us interpreting data effectively.
Yep, we’ve all got an ego, we’re all fallible.
When the data supports our existing story idea, we say:
“I knew that all along”
When the data challenges our story idea, we dismiss:
“That can’t be right”
Being led by the facts sounds obvious but hard to do.
Because our brains just can’t help making the facts fit the story.
👉🏼 Hint: To find out exactly how this all works, read Will Storr’s book The Science of Storytelling 📙
Overheard on the Demand Curve community.
A marketer had seen the results of a landing page test.
The page hadn’t performed as well as they would’ve liked.
“I liked that design but I like data even better”
That’s it for this week.