Prevalence induced concept change

Lies, damned lies, and statistics.
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Anaxagoras
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Prevalence induced concept change

Post by Anaxagoras » Tue Jul 10, 2018 8:42 am

Basically this means that even if by objective measures the world is getting better (polio is cured, people live longer on average, people have an objectively higher standard of living according to many metrics, et cetera) people tend to redefine what constitutes a problem over time.

The problem with solving problems
'Prevalence induced concept change' causes people to re-define problems as they are reduced

Date:
June 28, 2018
Source:
Harvard University
Summary:
As demonstrated in a series of new studies, researchers show that as the prevalence of a problem is reduced, humans are naturally inclined to redefine the problem itself. The result is that as a problem becomes smaller, people's conceptualizations of that problem become larger, which can lead them to miss the fact that they've solved it.

Although it's far from perfect by virtually any measure -- whether poverty rates, violence, access to education, racism and prejudice or any number of others -- the world continues to improve. Why, then, do polls consistently show that people believe otherwise?

The answer, Daniel Gilbert says, may lie in a phenomenon called "prevalence induced concept change."

As demonstrated in a series of new studies, Gilbert, the Edgar Pierce Professor of Psychology, his post-doctoral student David Levari, and several other colleagues, show that as the prevalence of a problem is reduced, humans are naturally inclined to redefine the problem itself. The result is that as a problem becomes smaller, people's conceptualizations of that problem become larger, which can lead them to miss the fact that they've solved it. The studies are described in a paper in the June 29th issue of Science.

"Our studies show that people judge each new instance of a concept in the context of the previous instances," Gilbert said. "So as we reduce the prevalence of a problem, such as discrimination for example, we judge each new behavior in the improved context that we have created."

"Another way to say this is that solving problems causes us to expand our definitions of them," he said. "When problems become rare, we count more things as problems. Our studies suggest that when the world gets better, we become harsher critics of it, and this can cause us to mistakenly conclude that it hasn't actually gotten better at all. Progress, it seems, tends to mask itself."
In other words, people will always find something to bitch about. Solve one problem and you begin to notice other problems.
A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.
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Re: Prevalence induced concept change

Post by Rob Lister » Tue Jul 10, 2018 11:04 am

I'd rather live as a commoner in the 20th century than a king in 10th.

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Re: Prevalence induced concept change

Post by Anaxagoras » Tue Jul 10, 2018 3:36 pm

It's the 21st century now. Just saying.

But I agree, although the early 20th century had a lot of wars.
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Re: Prevalence induced concept change

Post by ed » Tue Jul 10, 2018 3:47 pm

Organisms adapt and proceed from there, it occurs on a cellular level too.

Wish these fuckers would get an education before they start gassing.

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Re: Prevalence induced concept change

Post by Grammatron » Tue Jul 10, 2018 5:00 pm

That's almost the same conclusion a book I've read a while back came to.

The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined

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Re: Prevalence induced concept change

Post by Nyarlathotep » Tue Jul 10, 2018 5:27 pm

The thing is, though, that while old problems go away, new ones arise.

A 20th century commoner doesn't worry overmuch about dying of the plague. That 10th century king had a 0.0% chance that some diplomatic misstep would lead to his kingdom getting vaporized by nukes.
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Re: Prevalence induced concept change

Post by Grammatron » Tue Jul 10, 2018 5:48 pm

Nyarlathotep wrote:The thing is, though, that while old problems go away, new ones arise.

A 20th century commoner doesn't worry overmuch about dying of the plague. That 10th century king had a 0.0% chance that some diplomatic misstep would lead to his kingdom getting vaporized by nukes.
Sounds like some sort of prevalence induced concept change

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Re: Prevalence induced concept change

Post by Nyarlathotep » Tue Jul 10, 2018 6:35 pm

People will always be more invested in current problems than past ones. That should be a revelation to no one.

If you drop a glass on your floor and it shatters, then 20 minutes after you clean it up you notice you missed a piece of glass, do you just leave it thinking “it’s fine, 20 minutes ago my floor was covered in glass shards. This is a huge improvement ”? Or do you clean up that one glass shard you missed the first time? I think I can guess which.

So why should we ignore current problems just because they were worse in the past?
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Re: Prevalence induced concept change

Post by Grammatron » Tue Jul 10, 2018 6:56 pm

Nyarlathotep wrote:People will always be more invested in current problems than past ones. That should be a revelation to no one.

If you drop a glass on your floor and it shatters, then 20 minutes after you clean it up you notice you missed a piece of glass, do you just leave it thinking “it’s fine, 20 minutes ago my floor was covered in glass shards. This is a huge improvement ”? Or do you clean up that one glass shard you missed the first time? I think I can guess which.

So why should we ignore current problems just because they were worse in the past?
I'm not sure anyone suggested we should, I certainly haven't. For me, the takeaway is that humans seek to solve problems but as the scope keeps changing the perception can become that problems never get solved and things are getting worse. Yet what I see is that we do solve problems, incredibly complex problems, but that leads to new (or existing) sets of ever more complex problems.

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Re: Prevalence induced concept change

Post by sparks » Tue Jul 10, 2018 9:09 pm

Mr. President, we cannot allow a Prevalence Induced Concept Change gap!
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Re: Prevalence induced concept change

Post by Doctor X » Tue Jul 10, 2018 10:19 pm

Was the glass dropped half-full or half-empty?

And if no one was around to hear it, did it make a sound?

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Re: Prevalence induced concept change

Post by Nyarlathotep » Tue Jul 10, 2018 10:29 pm

Doctor X wrote:Was the glass dropped half-full or half-empty?
Yes
Doctor X wrote:And if no one was around to hear it, did it make a sound?

--J.D.
Maybe
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Re: Prevalence induced concept change

Post by Witness » Wed Jul 11, 2018 12:27 am

Anaxagoras wrote:Basically this means that even if by objective measures the world is getting better (polio is cured, people live longer on average, people have an objectively higher standard of living according to many metrics, et cetera) people tend to redefine what constitutes a problem over time.
Image

:mrgreen:

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Re: Prevalence induced concept change

Post by Grammatron » Wed Jul 11, 2018 1:23 am

Even that insane comic shows progress, now it's the women who are oppressing us.

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Re: Prevalence induced concept change

Post by Anaxagoras » Wed Jul 11, 2018 2:09 am

Grammatron wrote:Even that insane comic shows progress, now it's the women who are oppressing us.
Also, it's pretty vague exactly what the "new labor rights law" is.
Is it arguing that because businesses in the past opposed some things that we all now take for granted that we should support some undefined "new labor rights law" without knowing what it's all about just because business is opposed to it now? :notsure:
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Re: Prevalence induced concept change

Post by sparks » Wed Jul 11, 2018 2:30 am

Grammatron wrote:Even that insane comic shows progress, now it's the women who are oppressing me.
FTFY
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Re: Prevalence induced concept change

Post by Grammatron » Wed Jul 11, 2018 2:33 am

Yes that's how a joke is killed

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Re: Prevalence induced concept change

Post by sparks » Wed Jul 11, 2018 2:35 am

If you could only master humor. Take a lesson from yer Mom.
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Re: Prevalence induced concept change

Post by Grammatron » Wed Jul 11, 2018 2:36 am

sparks wrote:If you could only master humor. Take a lesson from yer Mom.
She does say you are so small it's hilarious.

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Re: Prevalence induced concept change

Post by sparks » Wed Jul 11, 2018 3:03 am

That would be her opinion. But, she is inclined to lie about .. well .. most things.
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