Ask A Genius 490 – Wind Not in My Hair, Sun in My Eyes and Can’t See
December 31, 2018
[Beginning of recorded material]
Scott Douglas Jacobsen: What about in-built biases and also in-built accuracies?
Rick Rosner: The in-built accuracies in perception and thought are a result of us evolving perceptual and computational systems that look for and act on the near certainties that are based on gathering a lot of information from the external world and from our memory. I do not know how many photons are perceived by our eyes every single second.
But it is a lot. It has to be in the millions, at least. Enough photons hit our eyes that they give us a near-certain indication of things in the environment. The standard example that people always use is a red light.
When we see a red light and decide whether or not to cross the street, our decision is based on seeing many thousands of red photons from that red light. It might be more. But it is a shitload. There is basically a zero probability that we have made a mistake about the status of the light.
In fact, when people make errors in perception, it is often that they are basing their perception based on suddenly getting less information than they are used to, like Albuquerque in 1986. The Sun was in my eyes.
I did not even see a traffic light. I blew through it. I bounced off one car and hit another one, because the Sun was in my eyes and I didn’t get any information about a traffic light. I assumed in the absence of information about a traffic light that there wasn’t.
We have a shitload of information. We have macro information. That the probability that we’re wrong about those aspects – that we’re focusing on because they’re important – is near zero.
Because when you add them all up, we make millions of judgments a day. You add those up. It depends on the definition of judgment. It could be billions. We may make an error once every million or so times.
The error rate will be so low that it doesn’t kill us.
[End of recorded material]
American Television Writer
Scott Douglas Jacobsen
Editor-in-Chief, In-Sight Publishing
 Four format points for the session article:
- Bold text following “Scott Douglas Jacobsen:” or “Jacobsen:” is Scott Douglas Jacobsen & non-bold text following “Rick Rosner:” or “Rosner:” is Rick Rosner.
- Session article conducted, transcribed, edited, formatted, and published by Scott.
- Footnotes & in-text citations in the interview & references after the interview.
- This session article has been edited for clarity and readability.
For further information on the formatting guidelines incorporated into this document, please see the following documents:
- American Psychological Association. (2010). Citation Guide: APA. Retrieved from http://www.lib.sfu.ca/system/files/28281/APA6CitationGuideSFUv3.pdf.
- Humble, A. (n.d.). Guide to Transcribing. Retrieved from http://www.msvu.ca/site/media/msvu/Transcription%20Guide.pdf.
License and Copyright
In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.in-sightjournal.com and www.rickrosner.org.
© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, Rick Rosner, and In-Sight Publishing 2012-2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, Rick Rosner, and In-Sight Publishing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.