Tuesday, April 11, 2017


Confusing entertainment when ventriloquists Rudi Rok and Sari Aalto get together.

Post-it Note Persuasion

Randy Garner of Sam Houston University found that when asking someone to do something, adding a personal message on a sticky note led to higher response rates.

In one study, Garner randomly selected 150 full time faculty members at major universities to complete a survey. The participants were divided into three groups of fifty:

Group A received the survey and cover letter.
Group B received the survey and cover letter with a personal message written on the upper right hand corner of the cover letter asking “Please take a few minutes to complete this for us. Thank you!”
Group C received the survey and cover letter with a Post-it note attached with the same message that was written on the cover letter in Group B.

The results showed that participants who received the survey with the Post-it note message returned the surveys significantly more than the other two groups.

Group A: 36% completed and returned the survey.
Group B: 48% completed and returned the survey.
Group C: 76% completed and returned the survey.

Garner conducted variations of the experiment and found similar results. He believes the Post-it message is likely viewed by the recipient as a personal appeal or request for a favor, which conjures strong societal norms of polite, reciprocal compliance.

Post-It® GARNER POST-IT PERSUASION Note Persuasion: A Sticky Influence

Monday, April 3, 2017

Misleading Vividness

Misleading Vividness is a fallacy in which a very small number of particularly dramatic events are taken to outweigh a significant amount of statistical evidence. This sort of "reasoning" has the following form:
1. Dramatic or vivid event X occurs (and is not in accord with the majority of the statistical evidence).
2. Therefore events of type X are likely to occur.
This sort of "reasoning" is fallacious because the mere fact that an event is particularly vivid or dramatic does not make the event more likely to occur, especially in the face of significant statistical evidence.


Joe: "When I was flying back to school, the pilot came on the intercom and told us that the plane was having engine trouble. I looked out the window and I saw smoke billowing out of the engine nearest me. We had to make an emergency landing and there were fire trucks everywhere. I had to spend the next six hours sitting in the airport waiting for a flight. I was lucky I didn't die! I'm never flying again."
Drew: "So how are you going to get home over Christmas break?"
Joe: "I'm going to drive. That will be a lot safer than flying."
Drew: "I don't think so. You are much more likely to get injured or killed driving than flying."
Joe: "I don't buy that! You should have seen the smoke pouring out of that engine! I'm never getting on one of those death traps again!"

Also see Hasty Generalization

The Nizkor Project: Misleading Vividness