View Full Version : Weirdest of the Weird

2013-Feb-26, 04:03 AM
Here's a fascinating article I just ran across:


Bottom line, us Americans are the weirdest of the weird, the outliers amongst the outliers. It's about some research that is challenging some of the basical social science assumptions, that underneath a few minor differences, all us humans think pretty much a like, having the same basic brain hardware. Well, apparently that is pretty far from the truth, and culture plays a much greater role in basic thinking processes than thought.

They first stumbled upon this when they had some isolated and very non-Western group in the Amazon play the "ultimatum game". You get two people, and put $100 (or equivalent) on the table. The first player must then offer to give some fraction of it to the second player. If the second player accepts, they get the money. If the second rejects, neither get anything.

The Western mind is concerned with fairness, and the first guy better offer a 50/50 split or the second guy will punish him. To the Amazon tribe, the idea of free money was so amazing that the second guy was happy to take any small amount the first would offer. In other cultures, the first guy better offer more than 50% to be generous, turns out.

That difference sparked them to do more research.

The Western mind is also prone to the Muller-Lyer illusion, with Americans being the most prone. And etc, etc.

THe Western mind is an outlier, and the American mind is an outlier amongst that outlier. So when doing social and psychological experiments, using Westerners and certainly Americans is probably not a good idea. They liken what those disciplines have been doing is studying penguins and applying the result to all birds. :lol:

It's fascinating stuff.

2013-Feb-26, 06:01 AM
I enjoyed the article, but still maintain that people who comment online are freaks.

2013-Feb-26, 06:10 AM
Heh, you mean you read the comments? I stopped reading comments at "mass media" sites a long time ago -- I don't even notice 'em anymore. It just lowers my opinion of my fellow man too much. People can't be that stupid.

2013-Feb-26, 07:31 AM
That reminds me of an article I recently read which shows that inflammation in humans and mice are totally different things, using totally different mechanisms, thus making medical research results on inflammation using mice invalid for humans and utterly useless for drug development (except for drugs for treating mice).
It was initially rejected for publication in Nature, apparently because the reviewer didn't like having his life's work invalidated.

2013-Feb-26, 10:04 AM
I think the original theory was that the Muller-Lyer illusion was linked to predominant building styles in the area, but I think that notion should be invalidated by now - every culture makes box-shaped buildings, except perhaps some scattered bushman villages.
From what I remember, that was exactly who they tested it against, though. The article doesn't actually say if there was a re-testing for the article or if they just took the old figures (I suspect the latter). Could be interesting to see what the difference would be now.


2013-Feb-26, 10:10 AM
Instead of Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic (WEIRD), it just as easily could have been Western, Industrialized, Rich, Educated, and Democratic (WIRED) but of course they chose the first one because they're WEIRD. :)

2013-Feb-26, 12:50 PM
Heh, you mean you read the comments? I stopped reading comments at "mass media" sites a long time ago -- I don't even notice 'em anymore. It just lowers my opinion of my fellow man too much. People can't be that stupid.

I forgot to reinstall my comment plugin for firefox. It removes comments with bad words, too many typos, too much punctuation, etc. I hang out on BAUT/CQ because the users here have yet to trigger the filter.

Back to the article. I am somewhat baffled by why someone doesn't study culture in conjuncture with perception. It seems to be a really simple concept to me.

As for the inflammation mechanisms, I think human testing is completely wrong. If mice want better anti-inflammation drugs, they need to test on mice. I don't care if they made the planet, they need to get some ethics. :)

Donnie B.
2013-Feb-27, 12:20 AM
If this study had been done in the year 0CE, would the Romans have been found to be the weirdest of the weird?