Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Overcoming Bias

One of the most thought-provoking blogs out there is Overcoming Bias. When it started up, I was a bit skeptical -- a blog limited to the subject of biases in human thought? I figured it would run out of material in a few weeks. Little did I know. The bloggers there keep coming up with fascinating (and sometimes disturbing) observations. Among recent posts, I liked this one:
A few years ago, an eminent scientist once told me how he'd written an explanation of his field aimed at a much lower technical level than usual. He had thought it would be useful to academics outside the field, or even reporters. This ended up being one of his most popular papers within his field, cited more often than anything else he'd written.

The lesson was not that his fellow scientists were stupid, but that we tend to enormously underestimate the effort required to properly explain things.


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