submitted 3 months ago by [email protected] to c/[email protected]

You ever see a dog that's got its leash tangled the long way round a table leg, and it just cannot grasp what the problem is or how to fix it? It can see all the components laid out in front of it, but it's never going to make the connection.

Obviously some dog breeds are smarter than others, ditto individual dogs - but you get the concept.

Is there an equivalent for humans? What ridiculously simple concept would have aliens facetentacling as they see us stumble around and utterly fail to reason about it?

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[-] [email protected] 149 points 3 months ago

Rejecting evidence that is right in front of our eyes because of some kind of religious faith or political beliefs.

[-] [email protected] 11 points 3 months ago* (last edited 3 months ago)

Or rejecting research/statistics/math/science/etc. because of some anecdotal evidence.

[-] [email protected] 104 points 3 months ago

Thinking that tailgating the vehicle directly in front of them will make thousands of other vehicles in front of that vehicle magically go faster. And many other reckless car-brain stunts.

[-] [email protected] 16 points 3 months ago* (last edited 3 months ago)

Is this the root pathology behind traffic? Like, I never understood traffic, is there someone at the front refusing to go fast enough or is it the result of some distributed error like this that everyone mis-optimizes for that in aggregate results in traffic?

[-] [email protected] 20 points 3 months ago

Based on a game* I think that the root issue is that there are multiple bottlenecks, unavoidable for the drivers, like turning or entering/leaving lanes, forcing them to slow down to avoid crashing. Not a biggie if there are only a few cars, as they'll be distant enough from each other to allow one to slow down a bit without the following needing to do the same; but once the road is close to the carrying capacity, that has a chain effect:

  • A slows down because it'll turn
  • B is too close to A, so it slows down to avoid crashing with A
  • C is too close to B, so it slows down to avoid crashing with B
  • [...]

There are solutions for that, such as building some structure to handle those bottlenecks, but they're often spacious and space is precious in a city. Or alternatively you reduce the amount of cars by discouraging people from using them willy-nilly, with a good mass transport system and making cities not so shitty for pedestrians.

*The game in question is OpenTTD. This is easy to test with trains: create some big transport route with multiple trains per rail, then keep adding trains to that route, while watching the time that they take to go from the start to the end. The time will stay roughly constant up to a certain point (the carrying capacity), then each train makes all the others move slower.

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[-] [email protected] 11 points 3 months ago

I just drop a mph every couple seconds until they fuck off. Don't break check, as that's super dangerous for you and everyone around you; don't change lanes to accommodate them (unless you're the source of the bottleneck and camping in the fast lane, in which case GTFO), since transitions are when accidents tend to happen; but you can absolutely slowly annoy a tailgater until they leave your bubble.

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[-] [email protected] 77 points 3 months ago* (last edited 3 months ago)


Imagine we both live in the US. I show you an article about an immigrant raping someone, and you say something like "well that's just one guy." I show you another, and another, and another. I show you a thousand. I show you ten thousand. Either you eventually admit that immigrants are predominantly rapists, or you look increasingly, ridiculously, obviously, wrong. And stubborn. And irrational.

But you are not wrong. I am wrong.

Because there are 331 million people in the United States, I can find an inexhaustible supply of immigrant-rapist stories.

Now take that inability to grasp large distances, large quantities, long periods of time, and apply it to everything. This is why young earth creationists exist- because a billion years is literally unimaginable. This is why people play the lottery- because you're saying there's a chance, right? This is why we don't react emotionally upon hearing of a genocide, or learning that 70 billion animals are slaughtered each year for meat.

We are not equipped to function at the scale that we are currently working at, as a species. We have been haphazardly constructed by evolutionary pressures to operate in small bands and villages, and we do not have the appropriate intuitions for any scope larger than that.

[-] [email protected] 21 points 3 months ago

To be fair, in many cases, the observable behaviour of things is different at scale. A single water molecule has different properties to a cup of water, in much the same way that a high density crowd of people (greater than 4 people per square meter) starts to behave as a fluid.

I study biochemistry and I'll never stop finding it neat how when you get down to the teensy tiny level, all the rules change. That's basically what quantum physics is, a different ruleset which is always "true", so to speak, but it's only relevant when you're at the nano scale

I suppose what I'm saying is that I agree with you, that fathoming scope is difficult, but I'm suggesting that this is a property of the world inherently getting being a bit fucky at different scales, rather than a problem with human perception.

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[-] [email protected] 59 points 3 months ago

Probability. If something has a 50% chance of occuring, that does not mean it will happen every second time, and our brain has a very hard time rationalizing that. For example, we assume its near impossible to flip heads on a coin three times in a row when really, the probability is 12.5% - not that low. Another example would be something with a 95% chance of success - we naturally round up and assume thats basically garenteed success, but theres still a very decent chance of failure, esspecially on repeat attempts. Our brains are just not wired to handle randomness well, which is part of why gambling is so addicting and why games like X-Com have to rig the odds in the players favour to avoid pissing them off.

[-] [email protected] 23 points 3 months ago

And that past random events have no influence on future ones.

If a coin landed on one side ten times in a row, it's still a 50% chance on the next throw. Something a lot of people have trouble with.

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[-] [email protected] 51 points 3 months ago* (last edited 3 months ago)

That you cannot extract billions of years worth of stored energy from the earth (like oil and coal), release it, and expect there to be no consequences.

Humans aren’t much better than dogs taking a shit on the lawn in our little finite planetary backyard and kicking a few tufts of grass over it. Dumping stuff into the ocean or waterways. Can’t see it! Must be gone, right? Burying toxic chemicals. Can’t see it! Same with CO2.

Shit’s still there. Keep shitting everywhere and there’s no way you’re gonna avoid stepping in it eventually.

[-] [email protected] 46 points 3 months ago

Many people, including myself, are too dumb to understand that other people don’t value the same thing in us that we value in others.

You see them try and become what they like, in order to try to appeal to others. “Well I wish I got more attention, so I’m going to give tons and tons of attention to others”. “I wish someone would make a grand romantic gesture to me, so I’m going to do that to someone else”. That kind of thing.

This is sometimes called “fundamental attribution error” although I think that concept covers a bit more ground.

[-] [email protected] 30 points 3 months ago

This is not the fundental attribution error. The fundamental attribution error is seeing an action from a person and assuming it is a fundamental attribute of them. Literally in the name. E.g. you seem someone being rude in public so you assume they are a rude person. Meanwhile if you are rude in public you chalk it up to being in a bad mood as a result of something that happened to you, not because you are a rude person.

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[-] [email protected] 9 points 3 months ago

This is the most charitable interpretation of why guys send dick pics

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[-] [email protected] 45 points 3 months ago

Humans totally ignore that they are part of nature. Most think that reduced biodiversity won't include them.

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[-] [email protected] 42 points 3 months ago

Capitalism isn't purpose and purpose doesn't exist.

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[-] [email protected] 40 points 3 months ago

I had a number of thoughts, and realized that the common factor in my examples is this: Large numbers. Like, really large numbers. I read on Lemmy yesterday that parrots can count to 17, and I'm not convinced that humans can do much better. Maybe close to 1,000 at the far outer limit, but that's really it.

Lots of humans deny evolution, saying that there's no way that we evolved from the same ancestors as other primates, but we think that the pharaohs in Egypt ruled a really, really long time ago. So while we can see changes pile up down the generations even in our lifetimes, we have a hard time extrapolating that to such timescales as 12 million years since the last common primate ancestor. Our little primate brains can't even begin to conceive of it, much less the ~180,000,000 years of the Age of Dinosaurs.

Lots of humans deny climate change and pollution, saying that there's no way our small consumption can affect a planet so big. We just have no intuitive understanding of how eating a hamburger, or burning a gallon of gasoline to get to work, scales to 8 billion of us.

And let's not even get into wealth inequality, except to say that surveys regularly find that humans can't even begin to conceive of the magnitude of the wealth gap.

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[-] [email protected] 32 points 3 months ago

Earth is the only planet that we’re adapted to live on. Nowhere else will be as forgiving of our mistakes.

[-] [email protected] 18 points 3 months ago

I suspect that colonizing Mars (or wherever else) will turn out to be much more than just an engineering problem. If we get things like food, water, atmosphere, and even gravity right, I think we’ll still find an endless list of requirements that we didn’t know were requirements… and some mystery problems that don’t seem to have any cause at all. Those problems will be because of factors we never thought of, or don’t even know how to detect.

There could also be surpluses/deficiencies in our diet or environment that will take years (or perhaps generations) to show up. Again, that would be because of unanticipated, and maybe unsolvable, problems.

[-] [email protected] 14 points 3 months ago

I remember sitting in on a briefing from the Biosphere folks when they reached out for collaborating institutions. One of the things that stuck with me was that they discovered that trees that were not subject to wind failed to develop a healthy trunk and tended to fall over and die. That’s not something that the researchers had even thought of.

I suspect that there’s going to be a lot of that.

[-] [email protected] 11 points 3 months ago* (last edited 3 months ago)

Interesting! Plus, that’s exactly the sort of weird, unanticipated thing I’m talking about. How do you plan for everything? You can’t.

The first human colonists (who are just ordinary people) won’t be the rich. They’ll be desperate people who are sold a dream of the future and treated as human lab rats.

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[-] [email protected] 30 points 3 months ago

When people want to enter a bus, especially a crowded one, it makes a lot more sense to wait for the people who want to get out of the bus to leave first.

This one is so baffling to me, it's really changed my view of how stupid some people really are. What do they even expect, that the other passengers magically disappear? It's really not an abstract problem if the other passengers are trying to leave right in front of you. Trying to enter a bus is also not a rare situation, so you'd expect people to understand this at least after the first few times. Unbelievable.

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[-] [email protected] 28 points 3 months ago

The existence of poverty/hunger/homelessness in a post-scarcity world. if we wanted to eliminate those problems we could, but humans are blocked on how it can be done without hurting their own wealth.

[-] [email protected] 15 points 3 months ago

Under capitalism, food isn't produced to eat but to make profits. When it's not profitable to sell, they will rather dump foods, starving the people rather than to plainly donate. We produce enough foods to feed the entire population. But the sole purpose of food is to not feed the people, but to feed the greed of the producers, the farmers, the corporates. Capitalism created an artificial scarcity of food where we produce too much food for the obese and throw the rest away to rot in front of the poor.

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[-] [email protected] 10 points 3 months ago

We're not yet in a post scarcity world. We're tantalizing close, but not quite there yet.

There are three main areas we need to work on.

First is power generation. We need more, and it needs to be decupled from fossil fuels. Nuclear is the obvious answer for massive amounts of power output without using massive amounts of land, but fossil fuel lobbies have been hamstringing development since the 50s.

The important thing here isn't just replacing fossil fuels. That would just leave us were we are now. No we need to double or triple world power generation as a start.

The second area that needs work is connected to the first. Transportation. Not just electric cars, but container ships and trains and everything in-between.

This is where that added power generation comes in. We need to make it basically free to move things from point A to point B. There are some ways to do this, particularly for container ships. But we need the raw power available before they become viable.

The final area is automation. We need more. Once people need to be put out of work in massive numbers. We need to decuple work from life.

That final step is the hardest with the most pitfalls. It will happen. Well, the automation and unemployment will happen. After that we can either spiral into a hell scape or rise above into a post scarcity utopia...

It really depends on when and how the guillotines come out

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[-] [email protected] 27 points 3 months ago

Gambling. Everyone knows the house always wins and the exact probability of winning any specific lottery but people can't grasp this. I don't know how people look at these massive luxurious casinos and think they win against this company with an unfathomably profitable business model by taking money from people who think they can win.

[-] [email protected] 13 points 3 months ago

I think the logic there is not that they constantly win against the casino, but more that they only need to get lucky once or twice. They just see that some people, sometimes win and there is no reason that they would not be the winners. Not sure I'm being clear about it but I hope you get my point.

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[-] [email protected] 11 points 3 months ago* (last edited 3 months ago)

I play the lottery a few times a year for the following reasons:
-Permission to dream about what I would buy if I won for a few days
-Justification for bitching about not winning the lottery

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[-] [email protected] 27 points 3 months ago

Things that take place over too long a period of time. Like heart disease, injustice, climate change, diabetes, addiction etc. We're evolved to prioritise short term pleasure over long term benefits, hence that cigarette, drink, line, burger is so difficult to say no to.

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[-] [email protected] 20 points 3 months ago

The zipper merge.

[-] [email protected] 20 points 3 months ago

Yep, it's called math.

I was generally surprised at how many people can't do simple math without a calc, like multiply 7 x 8.

[-] [email protected] 10 points 3 months ago
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[-] [email protected] 19 points 3 months ago
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[-] [email protected] 16 points 3 months ago

My take:

Most things (especially abstract ones) that exists beyond the scope of the small-hunter-gatherer-tribe setup our brain is developed for: Quantum mechanics, climate change, racism, relativity, spherical earth, ...

What separates us from the dogs is that we've developed abstract analytical tools (language, stories, mathematics, the scientific method,....) that allow us to infer the existence of those things and, eventually try to predict, model and manipulate them.

But we don't "grasp" them as we'd grasp a tangled leash, which is why it is even possible for medically sane people to doubt them.

I'd argue that you can even flip this around into a definition:

If a person with no medical mental deficiencies can honestly deny a fact (as in: without consciously lying), then that fact is either actually wrong, or it falls into the "tangled leash" category.

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[-] [email protected] 15 points 3 months ago

Impulse control and the general idea of delaying minor pleasures now that will have significant benefits later, or even just not doing things that kinda feel good in the moment but will make you miserable in the near future. As a species we're pretty terrible at those kinds of judgments.

The meme of the guy poking a stick into his bike wheel in one frame and lying in a crumpled pile in the next is timeless for exactly that reason. Same with shocked Pikachu.

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[-] [email protected] 15 points 3 months ago

How to build a Temporal Flux Compressor for FTL travel. It's really easy if you know how, but we just can't figure it out!

[-] [email protected] 14 points 3 months ago

Gambling has been mentioned already, but I think it's also the statistics of gambling that gets lost on people. If something has a 1 in 30 chance of a payout, it doesn't mean that in 30 tries there will be at least one payout, it means that there is a thirty percent (I don't know the percentage accuracy right now) chance of that single attempt to payout. When I worked in a liquor store and sold scratch off tickets, people would look at the odds on the back and buy so many thinking this way.

[-] [email protected] 12 points 3 months ago

Yup. There's no number of scratchers you can buy that gives you a 100% chance of winning. Sure, your chances go up the more you buy, but it never reaches 100%.

The formula is: 1 - (1-p)^N where p is the chance of winning and N is the number of scratchers you buy. Basically, you have to NOT win for N scratchers, so we multiply (since this is an AND condition, ie: you must lose scratcher A and scratcher B and scratcher C, etc) the chance of not winning (1-p) by itself for the number of scratchers bought. That's the overall chance of not winning, so we subtract that from 1 to get the chance of winning. You could instead use the chance of winning directly, but the formula is much longer (until you simplify the equation, which would give you the same answer as above) since you'd need to add (in this case we are using OR conditions) the chances of winning 1 scratcher or 2 scratchers or 3 scratchers, etc.

1 in 30 is a 3.33% chance of winning (a 96.67% chance of not winning, for those still following along). If you buy 30 scratchers, your chance of winning is only 63.83%. For 300, it's 99.9962%. The chance will never reach 100% because you have a number between 0 and 1 raised to the power of a positive number in the formula. The chance of winning at least 1 of N scratchers can only be 100% if the chance of winning a single scratcher is already 100%, and they don't sell those.

However! There are rules dictating the distribution of winning scratchers in a roll. It's obviously not 1 every 30 exactly, but it's also not perfectly random (which could lead to long strings of losing scratchers or long strings of winning scratchers). That's why sometimes you'll have to wait in line behind someone while they make the gas station attendant open a whole new roll because they want to buy 100 contiguous scratchers and there were only 99 left in the old roll.

Turns out, humans don't think true randomness "feels" random. There's actually a game design trick where you tell the player odds that are lower than reality because the true odds "feel" lower than the reported number. Pokemon did not use this trick, so Hyper Beam (reported accuracy of 90%) feels unfair, since you remember more strongly all the times it missed when you really, really needed it to hit vs. all the times it hit.

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[-] [email protected] 9 points 3 months ago

1 in 30 payout would be like ~3%

[-] [email protected] 13 points 3 months ago

Breathing without choking on spit

[-] [email protected] 12 points 3 months ago
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[-] [email protected] 11 points 3 months ago

I think if there was such a thing, truly and not simply an exaggeration, nobody would be able to answer the question because we couldn't even grasp the concept we don't understand.

[-] [email protected] 11 points 3 months ago* (last edited 3 months ago)

Objective reality that conflicts with our biases and preconceived ideas. We are really, really bad at handling that in a healthy manner, and WAY too good at denial and self-delusion.

[-] [email protected] 11 points 3 months ago

I saw a toddler eating a banana and it bit its own thumb and then did an angry cry

[-] [email protected] 10 points 3 months ago

Everybody else is saying things that some humans are too dumb to grasp. I'll give you an example that virtually all humans are too dumb to grasp.

How are our decisions affected by conflicts of interests? The last time I looked into this, the research in this area said that humans virtually always underestimate the effect that a conflict of interests has on them, by a lot. Many people don't even see the conflict of interests. People who recognize the conflict of interests believe that because they are aware of the conflict of interests, they can mitigate the effects completely. They are wrong.

Humans get entangled by conflicts of interests just like dogs get entangled by their leashes. Just like dogs, many times, humans don't realize that they're caught. Just like dogs, even if you show a human the problem, they cannot understand. But even worse than dogs getting tangled by their leashes, humans believe they can understand what to do when they're caught up, but it turns out that they're wrong.

[-] [email protected] 10 points 3 months ago
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[-] [email protected] 10 points 3 months ago

first. my current dog learned to deal with this as a puppy. I was astonished. My last dog I was trying to train the concept her whole life. Never saw a dog be able to handle it before but at this point if my current dog starts to go on the other side of an obstruction I say this way and she immediately corrects. For some reason for all other dogs I find they instinctively want to go the wrong way. So its not even random, they think wrapping more is the way to go. As for humans:

"The Greatest Shortcoming of the Human Race Is Man’s Inability To Understand the Exponential Function"


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[-] [email protected] 9 points 3 months ago

Continued drinking or gambling. They cause huge problems, but the individual tries everything to fix it except for stopping.

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this post was submitted on 30 Nov 2023
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