Wednesday, March 3, 2010

reinforcing bias

It's well known that people tend to interpret data in a way that favors the views they already hold. But I think it's also true that people tend to learn more about what they already are familiar with regardless of what they actually want to learn about. Being a renaissance man requires some deliberate diversification effort.

I have no interest in finance. I rather loathe finance, and have less than no desire to learn more about real-world finance. Yet as a result of study sovereign credit for eight months my ears always perk up at information about Argentina, Venezuela, Iceland, etc government finance decisions or default speculation.

I also tend to multi-task during lectures (verbal communication is so slow...) by working on homework or writing code or emails or whatever, and keeping 120% of an ear on the professor, more or less depending on how important it seems. But in the current lecture we covered models of belief learning, which I was just looking into yesterday and want to know more about, and cognitive hierarchy and the beauty contest game, which I've been taught at least five separate times previously. Which did I pay more attention to? The latter, of course.

Oh, human nature can be so frustrating.