What is the sunk cost fallacy?


Heh, I forgot about the Microsoft Kin. I thought those were Peeks at first.

And bloody hell, Peek is still around. They’re like the AOL of hobbled internet appliances. Wait, no, the “lifetime” service ended two years ago. Talk about a sunk cost.

Wow! You aren’t assuming much, are you?

I hate - hate - hate these articles written in such a way as to presume to tell me what “I”/“we” do. It is an awfully lazy way to frame potentially interesting subject matter.

Because you are not human?

Peek. for some context.

I had a Palm Pilot that I loved; gave it to my parents; My mom loved it and made my dad get the same model so they could synch calendars et alia. She used it up intil 2011 or 2012 I think.

I wonder if there’s a name for the cognitive bias that makes people respond to every article about cognitive biases by angrily proclaiming “Not me, bub!”

I guess it’s a variant of the “Bias Blind-Spot” effect: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bias_blind_spot


You probably need to either listen to a few more episodes of “You are not so smart”, or never listen to any of them again.

McRaney presents a very easy to digest explanation of how the human mind functions, strongly supported by cognitive science and psychology, and the gentle digging at “you” the listener, is required.

Why? Because unless you have some prior familiarity with the material being presented, every fibre of your being will be trying to wriggle and squirm its way out of accepting the fact of it.


It doesn’t even need to be articles about cognitive bias. I find cognitive science interesting. What I avoid is writing addressing “me” as a clickbait tactic to imply personal relevance.

Accepting facts does not make for good science. Evaluating their results and testing them might. In any case, I do not self-identify as human, an individual, or even an organism. And what cognition I can be associated with is not normal anyway. I am… rather drastically customized.

The Kin flopped largely due to the fact that Microsoft/Verizon required people to pay for an expensive data plan to go along with something that was basically a feature phone (ie, non-smartphone) with wi-fi and Facebook integration.

BUT, after the flop, to get rid of the devices, they did something awesome: they re-jiggered the firmware, removed the Facebook crud, and released it again, this time not requiring a data plan and CRUCIALLY leaving the wi-fi antennae on it. The browser and e-mail client may have sucked, but grabbing a Kin at that point allowed me to forego forking out the big bucks for a smartphone w/ data plan.

As bonuses, I really liked the camera on it, and the Vuze media player wasn’t half-bad.

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There may be a handful of people who are immune to various, otherwise universal, cognitive biases, but there are vastly more who simply lack the self-awareness to examine their own motivations.
Without enough data to make an informed judgement, I’m inclined to follow the odds.

Well that’s McRaney’s style. He entertainingly reveals to you personally that the solid bedrock you think of as your self is a fabrication. Sounds like it’s not going to be your thing!

Personally, I was familiar with a lot of the basic concepts he goes over, but over the years they had kind of faded into the background. I’ve been through the full series of his podcasts over the last few months and he has successfully blown my mind.

Devolving into personal anecdote
I’ve been trying to lose some weight, and I had resisted the idea of a food diary. Once I saw it as a cognitive tool, rather than some kind of permanent record of judgement, I tried it, and the results have been amazing.

What was written down in the diary was pretty much what I thought I had been eating, but it turns out what I thought I had been eating was a fabrication. A narrative to satisfy powerful subconscious urges.

As much as I like to think I understood the basics of cognitive science, when you discover your own biases and narrative deceit laid bare like that, it is truly profound.

If you find cognitive science interesting you may find my revelation naive. But I put it to you that the real revelation here is that in this respect we are all naive, even those of us with a great understanding of cognition.

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This does sound interesting, self as illusion has been a recurring theme with me over the years.

Neat. So, how did you understand the discrepancies between your diary and the actual foods?

I had a Peek!

About a month or two after I bought it, my employers decided we needed Blackberries. So that was the end of that. I blame @beschizza.


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I lost weight!

I also noticed I was less bloated and craved snacks more often. I guess that’s the point, if you aren’t writing it down, there is no independent reference for what you are eating, other than your recollection.

And as it turns out, my recollection is created from the ground up, on the spot, in service of a number of disparate subconscious forces, then made to fit a narrative that allows me to maintain the status quo moving forward.

If I look back, I can kind of see where the little cheats and excesses crept in, but then this is due in large part to the fact that I blew up my comfortable narrative with the cold hard rational light of a written record.

I honestly feel like I hacked my brain.

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I also bought a Kin after they re released them. I had already bought into the Microsoft system with a Zune and it was a perfectly good phone without the need to pay for a data plan.


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You seem to have a lot invested in that POV. :slight_smile:


This easily becomes infinitely regressive. Somebody has a bias for having biases. Somebody has a bias against being biased. I have already dealt with similar loops such as to whether the choice to not desire is simply a desire itself. They are questions worth asking, but not worth wasting much time on due to their circular nature.

Human biases are easy to recognize and not at all impossible to avoid, although people are vigorously discouraged from doing so. There isn’t anything “universal” about humanity. It can be thought of as set-theory. Is human awareness and motivation so vast that there is no set beyond this? Hardly! The universe at large makes no concessions to individual biases or feeling of conscious continuity. Even assuming that I am a distinct organism or even alive are only applicable in quite limited domains.

It is. There is a reason why there are those two dots in the Yin-Yang symbol.

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and not just one dot! Well said.

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