Some of us kiss our lucky rabbit’s foot before we throw the dice at a craps table. We might do a little dance and look up to the sky and twirl three times before we scratch our lottery ticket. Or throughout our entire lives we might walk a certain way, maybe even wear a lucky shirt or hat with the hopes that it will increase our chances of having a better day or good luck. These are a few variations and examples of pigeon superstition an idea introduced by Psychologist B.F. Skinner: “Skinner placed a series of hungry pigeons in a cage attached to an automatic mechanism that delivered food to the pigeon ‘at regular intervals with no reference whatsoever to the bird’s behavior.’ He discovered that the pigeons associated the delivery of the food with whatever chance actions they had been performing as it was delivered, and that they subsequently continued to perform these same actions.” (source)
It’s because of ideas like this that I have come to question the validity of the results of certain findings in science. What is confirmation bias? Simply put, it’s very much like a self-fulfilling prophecy blended with a bit of prejudice and favoritism. That is we find what we want to find we see what we want to see and we give attention, time, credence and resources to those things that we feel warrant them sometimes without even being consciously aware that we are acting in such a way. (source)
Dutch Hunger Winter
There was a study conducted on women who were pregnant during a devastating famine that lasted a year from 1944-1945. What the study found was that their children and their children’s children were more susceptible to things like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity and other health problems. That is, their bodies were programmed to hoard nutrients like fats and sugars because in utero they were taught that food was scarce. This is a good explanation of why some people eat so little and find themselves gaining so much weight. (source)
This is an interesting concept that puts a new flair on the saying “if you don’t use it you lose it.” According to this theory one could be born with a perfectly good set of eyes and if you were kept in darkness for a period of time you could actually go blind? (source)
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