August 22nd, 2006 — Wordman
Archive for August, 2006
August 22nd, 2006 — Wordman
A co-worker told me about something he saw last weekend that has to be the most concise illustration of how to properly use incentives to change people’s behavior I’ve ever seen. It was a sign in in a retail store saying:
Unattended children will be given an espresso and a free puppy.
August 21st, 2006 — Wordman
I have a confession to make: I don’t care about the JonBenet Ramsey case. I didn’t care when it happened, and I don’t care now. I will admit to being morally outraged about the “dress up five year olds like Texan whores” thing…ok, no I wasn’t. That part was a bit creepy, but I didn’t care much about that either.
I am therefore supremely qualified to make a prediction about the case. From the handful of three-second snippets I’ve heard on it, I predict the following:
- The guy that confessed didn’t actually kill JonBenet.
- The guy is, however, a pedophile. (White guy in Bangkok == pedophile)
- The guy has done bad things to kids, including murder (just not of JonBenet).
- He feels remorse over his actions.
- His remorse (and wanting to be famous) has led him to confess so that he can be punished.
You heard it here first. Or, hell, maybe someone else has already made this prediction. I wouldn’t know.
My career as a fortune-teller is not off to a very good start, since I’m making a prediction that will be completely unambiguous if it comes true or not. I should have put it in a quatrain about “one with a receding hairline” or something to be more cryptic.
Not that ambiguity would really matter, since people seem to fill in the blanks even when there are none. Take this comparison of a drawing a psychic made in 1998 predicting the appearance of JonBenet’s killer with the guy that confessed:
While upwards of 20 whole seconds of Googling couldn’t find a public version of this picture posted prior to three days ago, I’ll give the benefit of the doubt on that for now, since it is not particularly relevant to my point here. Which is: many people are freaking out over the similarity of the pictures. But…what similarity?
If you think these two look the same, what about these pictures suggests that? They both show a thin white guy? Check. With a receding hairline? Check. With similar eye shape? Maybe a little. With a combover? Uh… no. With a similar nose? No. With a remotely similar jaw line or head shape? No. With ears in the same position? No. With similar lip structure? No. With similar eyebrow bushiness? No. I, too, could have drawn a skinny white guy and been just as “accurate”.
I’d like to believe in mental powers beyond those of mortals as much as anyone, but real evidence of this is…limited. Psychics continue to succeed because humans are experts at finding patterns where there are none and see things that are not there, like “similarity” in these pictures.