Monday, 30 August 2010

Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon

Have you heard of the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon? If you have, then that in itself is the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon. If you haven't then, perhaps you will hear about it again soon. The Baader-Meinhof is when you learn some obscure bit of trivia and soon afterward you hear the bit of trivia again. E.g. the other day my friend Delon had a trivia question on twitter asking what the god particle was also known as. I said antimatter as per Angels and Demons. But he sent me a wikipedia article and it is actually known in science terms as the Higgs Boson particle. Almost a minute after the Onion's joke horoscope for Hamza as a Gemini was "You should really try to live your life so that your happiness doesn't depend so much on whether or not they find the Higgs boson particle." That's what you call Baader-Meinhoff phenomenon. I have actually been keeping an eye out on this for a while now and seems to be true. Every time I learn something new, I am confronted with that bit of information shortly after. For the record, I don’t believe or follow horoscopes religiously; I just read them for comedic value.

To summarise the article that I read, our brains have a “prejudice towards patterns”, which cause it [the brain] “to lend excessive importance to unremarkable events”. The article even says that coincidences themselves are perceived due to this prejudice and “we underestimate the probability of coinciding events, so our expectations are at odds with reality”.

I find all these psychological phenomena quite fascinating, and spend lots of time procrastinating over the discovery of another. To coin a phrase, “Brain stimulation is nice.”

Till next time in Waseem world.


Azra S. said...

This is fascinating.I've had many experiences myself where I've learnt something new and then encountered the concept again shortly after. I don't however, think that this phenomenon relates to all aspects of coincidences. I believe that in *some* cases, fate/destiny plays its role :)

sady said...

Or maybe the second "exposure" would have occurred even without the first, just in that case, you wouldn't have given it much thought.

The lending of excessive importance to unremarkable events for the sake of "prejudice towards patterns" is probably why so many people do believe their horoscopes. Interesting stuff tho.

Btw, Hi, I'm Sady. New to Blogger. Some traffic (who am I kidding, even just one car) would be awesome. :)

That Mash Guy said...

I wrote about this a few years back. I didn't know it had a name.