This week you need to read the print (14 May 2011) or the online version of The New Scientist, no iffs, no buts, you need to read it (the online version is free but you need to register). The article I am imploring you to read is titled "The Grand Delusion".
The Grand Delusion is a seven page article that explains, in easy steps, why the world we think we perceive is just a fabrication constructed in our heads.
Amongst the points raised by the article are:
- During the waking day your eyes are 'offline' for about four hours in total, the total impact of blinks and more importantly saccades (when the eye flicks from one point to another).
- Your colour vision is restricted to an area about the size of your thumbnail when held at arm's length.
- Our biases affect our use of 'facts' not just attitudes.
- Many of our memories are false, but they are indistinguishable from 'true' memories (in 2002 one study found that when asked about the death of Princess Diana nearly half of respondents remembered seeing tv footage of the actual crash- but no such footage exists.
- Most of us tend to think we are better than average at a wide variety of things (74% of drivers think they are better than average, and those who have had a recent crash have an even higher opinion of their skills).
For market researchers all of this news is challenging. As Mark Earls is fond of saying, we are all unreliable witnesses to our own selves.
ps one of the points in the article is that we tend to 'seek out' and believe things that agree with us, a phenomenon called 'confirmation bias', so perhaps I just agree with the article because it is a better informed version of myself? And perhaps I seek out my 'facts' in the New Scientist rather than the Murdoch press because I like the 'facts' in the New Scientist better?