27 February 2009

Show-Off Bias?

My friends at Overcoming Bias have an interesting post about a new kind of bias. It's called Show-Off bias. The poster, Kip, defines it as follows: self-identified smart people are biased towards complex or counter-intuitive answers to problems.

A corollary, supplied by one of the commenters is, "self-identified smart people often sacrifice clarity and precision for style. instead of making ideas easy to comprehend they present them in the most impressive, stylized way possible."

This seems like one I will be on the lookout for. In fact, it makes me wonder if all the looking into low-carb diets and the physiological processes behind them is a show-off bias desire to run counter to the FDA food pyramid or the conventional wisdom of low-fat.

I guess I would be much more concerned if it weren't working so well for me. (The first half of the graph was my attempt at lower fat and lots of exercise. The second half was lower carb--going off of grains essentially--while maintaining the exercise).

Of course, confirmation bias may be leading me to continue to believe that it is a more healthy diet. I will do more posts on cognitive biases. It is a rich and important field, especially for people who work with their brains.

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