On this, the last day of February, I recall how I used to pity those poor kids who could only celebrate their birthdays on the actual date, every couple of years. I felt uncomfortable about the ambiguous nature of the leap year birthday. I mean, those poor kids had to hesitate and figure out an understandable response to the question, “How old are you?”.
I have always had a distaste for ambiguity. Therefore, I ask a lot of questions. (Liars HATE it that I ask a lot of questions. I catch them off guard, it seems…) I ask people a lot of questions, not because I’m nosy but because when I have all the facts about a given situation, I can make better decisions for myself. It isn’t a judgement issue. It’s more like: “If you’re going to do this….then I’m going to do that.” “If you are going to call back later, I’ll leave my phone on. If not, I’ll turn it off so I won’t be disturbed while I work.” It isn’t that I’m asking someone TO call back. Whatever their decision about this is, will be fine with me. I just want to know one way or the other so I can take action accordingly.
Turns out that science has now substantiated why ambiguity bugs me ( or all of us) as much as it does. The phenomenon actually screws with our heads. According to a study published in the Journal of Science, the reason lies in how the brain responds emotionally, and sometimes, even illogically, when forced to make decisions based on conflicting or little evidence. These so-called ambiguous decisions are different from decisions that we think of as risky decisions. No wonder the person who is being lied to, for example, appears so nutty to the rest of the world. That person is being fed conflicting information. The heart hears what it wants to hear, but the head says, “Um….hold on there just a minute….That doesn’t make sense!”
Wait….If it looks like a duck…then, it IS a duck….but it also looks like a rabbit. Which do I choose?
When faced with a risky decision, one is not sure about the outcome of a particular choice but can have a notion about the probability of success. In an ambiguous decision, a person is ignorant of both factors. Thus, the uncomfortable feeling….the uncertainty, and sometimes illogical and absurd behaviors.
Brain specialists would say ambiguity is the discomfort from knowing there is something you don’t know that you wish you did. This probably stems back to the fight or flight area of the brain, the hippocampus, and is a matter of survival. In the previously mentioned experiment, subjects were given the opportunity to place ambiguous bets while their brains were scanned using a functional magnetic resonance imager (fMRI). In this part of the experiment, participants were given the choice between placing a monetary bet on the chances of drawing a red card from a “risky” deck that had 20 red cards and 20 black cards…that is, where the probability of choosing either color was 50-50, and making the same bet with an “ambiguous” deck where the color composition of the cards was unknown.
In the majority of cases, the participants decided to place the risky bet. Logically, however, both bets would have been equally good because in both cases, the chance of pulling a red card on the first draw was 50-50.
The brain scans taken during the experiment revealed that ambiguous betters were often accompanied by activation of the parts of the brain known as the amygdala and the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC). These are two areas of the brain that are involved in the whole emotions processing thing. The amygdala has been found to be closely associated with fear, which, again, harkens back to being in survival mode. If you think about it, a correlation between aversion to ambiguous decisions and activation of emotional parts of the brain makes perfect sense from an evolutionary point of view. Do I go into that dark cave or don’t I? Well, first, I need to know if a saber toothed tiger is in there, right? And I’m going to be a little nervous about it until I find out. Should I leave my boyfriend or not….Well, first, I need to find out if he really IS cheating on me. In the modern human brain, this translates into a reluctance to bet on or against an event if it seems at all ambiguous.
The results of this study could help those of us in the field of Psychology, understand how humans make decisions in the real world, because the choices people make are often based on very limited information. (i.e…..All signs point to cheating, but he denies it….or I’m not going to walk into that dark cave if there’s a tiger in there, because it will eat me alive. )
Makes sense to me.
Anyway….Happy Birthday, Leapers…er…Leap Yearlings…um…people whose birthdays are on leap year. Here’s a nice mug. Have some coffee.
I opened Facebook this morning and saw about 6 claims from right wingers, saying that Jimmy Carter now endorses Donald Trump.
It isn’t true.
Jimmy Carter was asked which he would vote for, Trump or Cruz, if he were FORCED to vote for one or the other. He said that under those circumstances, he would go with Trump, because Trump is the more malleable (easily influenced) (as opposed to Cruz being so rigid.) This was not intended as a compliment toward Trump. It was meant to infer that Trump is so wishy washy and wants so badly to give the appearance of “winning” (when he actually isn’t winning…) that he refuses to take a firm stand on any issue. He does back and forth, depending on the demographic to whom he is addressing a given statement.
So NOW, the right wingers have taken those words, twisted them and are misrepresenting what Carter said as an ENDORSEMENT of Trump. Jimmy Carter does not endorse Trump, my friends. I am amazed by the stupidity of the many claims to the contrary that I am seeing across the Internet this morning.
Jeeze! Ain’t lack of education purty?!
Read the whole story HERE.
George Carlin says it best…
I watch the Republican debates and I take notes. I watch the Democratic debates and, again, I take notes. THEN I decide for whom I want to vote, regardless of the party he or she belongs to. I don’t blindly vote for either party’s prime candidate without first doing my homework….and after I do my homework, it somehow always ends up to be the Democratic candidate for whom I vote. I do not plan to vote for the Democratic ticket automatically.
That said, while I have fundamental differences in my political views from those of Carly Firoina, I felt she handled herself well during the Republican debates. She stuck to her view of the facts and did not rise to the battering offered by her opponent, Donald Trump. There were just things that came out of her mouth that made me stop in my tracks, scratch my head and say, “Whaaaa????”
For the many who are unfamiliar with her record, it is not a strong one. The primary mark on her resume is negative, having run Hewlett-Packard into the ground as CEO. “Call her the anti-Steve Jobs,” wrote Infoworld, who put her on a list of tech’s all-time top 25 fiascoes. During her tenure, the company’s stock lost nearly 50% of its value, thousands of employees lost their jobs to layoffs, and Ms. Fiorina was forced to resign (read: “fired”) by HP’s board. In USA Today, CBS Moneywatch, and , she was ranked among the “worst CEOs in America.” On the day her departure was announced, HP’s stock went up—and she received a $21 million severance package.
What I saw during the Republican debates was exactly what I see in certain aspects of my personal life. I had to sort through the name calling and misplaced “facts” as I watched the republican debates. I listed to negative comments directed by front runner, Donald Trump, toward women’s appearance, just as I listed to certain members of my family cut one another down based on appearance. Last night, as Trump watched Carly Fiorina on TV, he said, “Look at that face! “Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?!” ….as if that should matter. And really…..Someone who looks like THIS criticized his female opponent?
Trump has called Lindsey Graham an “idiot,” labeled Jeb Bush an “unhappy person” who is “out of touch,” and has even mocked Rick Perry’s glasses. Recently, after a fundraiser for Scott Walker criticized Trump, the candidate labeled the event “very dumb” and “not smart.” Just another example of how money simply can’t buy class. This person thinks he can lead an entire nation? I beg to differ. his emotional maturity is at such a low level that he is nothing short of an embarrassment.
In certain aspects of my personal life, I must continually contend with statements such as the ones made in the above, angry-looking meme with the quote from R. Lee Ermey….whoever that is…….These are strong claims, ones that, if directed toward someone who is partisan-loyal and does not know how to conduct unbiased research, might be convincing….but how do these claims hold up?
For illustrations sake, let’s start with the claims about the economy. Under our current President, the economy has actually grown a considerable amount. It started off rocky for President Obama in 2009. In fact, that year the economy actually contracted 2.8%, just as he originally predicted that it would. Since then, however, the US economy has grown substantially under our current President: 2.5% in 2010, 1.6% in 2011, 2.3% in 2012, 2.2% in 2013, and 2.4% in 2014. These figures are very good compared to growth in other developed countries around the world in the last five years. For 2015 and 2016, the CBO projects that the economy will grow at roughly 3%. If this prediction comes into fruition, then seven out of the eight years of Obama’s presidency will have been accompanied with solid economic growth. But does anyone on the right give him credit for this. No.
So the bottom line is this….What I witnessed last night was a group of Democratic candidates who treated one another respectfully. I saw one major candidate step in an boldly defend his leading opponent, offering support and encouragement about a non-issue that keeps being dragged into the equation to muddy the views of those of us who are trying to stick to the issues. I read the fact checking after each debate.
Both sides made errors, but as I examined the facts, I realized that many of the Republican candidates (in the midst of taking jabs at one another) told blatant lies. Trump espoused his views on vaccinations, for instance, with ZERO scientific substantiation and with absolutely no authority as a physician to back up what he said. As I examined the gaffs from the Democrats, however, I found that most of them were based on the candidates making earlier statements somewhere down the road, the getting new information that could inform their opinions, intelligently adjusting those opinions, and finally arriving at new ones….Hence the right wing cries of “flip flopping”. I think the intelligent person DOES change opinions as new evidence is gleaned. I saw some exaggerations by both sides, because, well, this is politics, folks, and that’s what politicians do.
At the end of the day, I am a liberal, and that is a label that I proudly hold. I have seen it misrepresented and maligned by the right, but I will carry it to my grave with pride and respect. It is inclusive of everyone….even of the Republicans.
The label “liberal” is against oppression, racism, unnecessary gun violence, the right for a woman to determine medical decisions about her own body, wage equality, race equality, gender equality and equal opportunities for ALL. My political views are views that embrace, not views that divide and shun.
And yeah…lie about me and I’ll speak out against you,….because that is just….and it is right. However, at the end of the day, I’m just tired of it…..the greed, the attitudes of entitlement, the name calling, the mean-spirited shunning and shaming, the attitude that one’s religion is the ONLY religious choice in this great country of ours that was founded on keeping religion separate from politics and government…. and that embraces ALL religions. I’m fed up with that, and for the rest of my life, I will fight for what I believe is right for me…for my life…and for the lives of my children and grandchildren.