The Bystander Effect

I am seeing more and more where people are complaining about the filming of an attack and not intervening in it. People are claiming they would do something. But… I suspect many of the people who film these events without intervening think beforehand they would do something too.

Why they do not intervene is pretty well studied.

How could people just stand by and watch something this horrible happen to a young, innocent girl? Some have suggested that the eyewitnesses’ failure to report the incident likely resulted from a concern over being labeled as a snitch. Although this is possible, social psychological research on the bystander effect suggests a different cause – there were too many eyewitnesses present. The bystander effect refers to the fact that people are less likely to offer help when they are in a group than when they are alone. Research on this effect was inspired by a real-world account that seems hauntingly similar to the recent event in Richmond.

Why Do We Help Less When There is a Crowd?: Less is More When it Comes to Bystanders. Burkley, Melissa. Psychology Today. Nov 04, 2009

One of the pieces is in the assessment of the situation. We tend to look to how others are reacting to a situation to decide whether to intervene. If no one else is, then we likely will not either. The fewer other witnesses there are, the less the inaction of others plays into our own. The article makes a great example of asking questions. I see it all the time where if the leaders do not ask, then no one else is.

The other piece is in how people feel responsibility. When there is a single person present, they feel wholly responsible. When there are more attending the event, that feeling diffuses among the additional people. With say, 10 people, each only feels about 10% responsible. A crowd watching an event is less likely to feel responsible for a negative outcome than a single person.

In the claims about being willing to act, I bet they all think of the scenario in terms of themselves being the sole witness to it where they would have to assess it without consideration of anyone else’s inaction causing them not to intervene and also where they would feel wholly responsible. I doubt any consider it from the more likely standpoint of there being multiple people in attendance and the Bystander Effect takes place.

Trump’s best shot at reelection is false-consensus effect

Thinking back to Obama’s campaign for reelection, I recall much talk about how incompetent, evil, and terrible a president he was from his opposition. Not Romney directly but the his likely voters on social media. To the point of Romney feeling moral obligation to defend Obama as not that bad of a person to his own voters. There were daily negative stories about Obama culminating in Benghazi.

Depending on where you sat, most people agreed with either his incompetence or shrewdness. This agreement blinds us to reality.

false-consensus effect

the tendency to assume that one’s own opinions, beliefs, attributes, or behaviors are more widely shared than is actually the case. A robustly demonstrated phenomenon, the false-consensus effect is often attributed to a desire to view one’s thoughts and actions as appropriate, normal, and correct

APA Dictionary

During this time of pandemic, I am seeing a spinning up of negative social media posts about Trump from his opposition. (Even worse than when I wrote Gotcha jerks part I & part II) And an equally defensive amount from his party members. My guess is he will get about the same turnout if this continues just from voters being upset at his unfair* treatment by the opposition.

* Unfair: they will think no one deserves that harsh treatment. Nevermind Obama and Hillary got the same level.

Sharing links that mock a caricature of the Other Side isn’t signaling that we’re somehow more informed. It signals that we’d rather be smug assholes than consider alternative views. It signals that we’d much rather show our friends that we’re like them, than try to understand those who are not.

The ‘Other Side’ Is Not Dumb

I suspect these attacks make Trump’s opposition think good people in no way can justify voting for him. Even as his supporters think only deplorable people would vote against him given these attacks. Both a walking blind. Because we have defined ourselves by our political beliefs.

Perhaps the two most important things to know about the false consensus effect have to do with its potency.  First, false consensus effects still exist for important or self-defining beliefs.  Second, neither education about the false consensus itself nor large rewards for accuracy seem to eliminate the false consensus effect.  This bias is hard to eliminate.   

Your opinions are not as popular as you think they are

Then there are the bots agitating both sides making this effect worse by polluting the newsfeeds with more people agreeing. It is just a mess. And few seem aware of just how they are being manipulated by their biases.

Just Google It

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Saw a friend ask a question about how to setup a store for WordPress on Facebook. This seemed trivial. Just look on Google for the answer.

But, then I had a thought:

What if my working with WordPress for years yields me better results?

First, I certainly have terminology that would give me better results. Like, I would search for “wordpress ecommerce plugin”. But, even if I searched for “best wordpress store”, I bet Google would turn over to me better results than a n00b who is just getting started using it.

Perhaps personalization has forced us to come full circle where people more than ever need to ask the question of their friends to get a better answer?

Counting children’s books

I have not been one to look favorably on counting children’s books in my Goodreads list. However, I am really behind on my reading.

And my kid just had me read Oscar’s Book for the 9th time today alone. I am getting in a lot of reading that isn’t going counted. So, I may just start including those books on my Goodreads when they meet certain criteria.

  1. I’ve read it about 20 times.
  2. I feel like I know the story inside and out.

To-do: Goodreads friends rating score browser add-on

2008 reading list

The primary reason I like Goodreads is for the easy tracking the books I read. The second reason is the friend reviews.

Basically, bookstore website reviews are inundated with fake reviews. Maybe the author or publisher buys them or has people who have never read it review it. Maybe people are reviewing it based on their love of other works by the author. An easy example is The Winds of Winter having 4,482 five star reviews and the sequel A Dream of Spring. Neither book has yet to be finished. In both cases, my friends have the books marked as to-read.

The scores from these reviews go into a ratings score. Basically the formula is for each star multiply by the number given it and total it, then divide by the total of reviews.

((5*n5)+(4*n4)+(3*n3)+(2*n2)+(1*n1)) / (n5+n4+n3+n2+n1)

What I prefer is the rating score for a book based on my friends not general users. I place a higher weight on my friends. So this friends rating score is more valuable to me whereas I treat the existing one with such skepticism it isn’t useful.

At present, I basically have to go to the book, scroll down to the friend ratings score.

What would be nice is a browser add-on to move the friends ratings score to higher in the page to just under the title. That ought to be fairly viable.

What would be harder is for pages like the currently reading list, having the add-on visit each page, pull the friend rating and replace each “avg rating” with the friends avg rating.

Phishy Facebook ad explanations

Jeopardy test ad

This past weekend, a friend invited us over to play board games. Two of the people there have been on Jeopardy. So, I found this advertisement interesting. And when I went to the feature explaining why I got the ad, I found that explanation lacking.

Supposedly, it was because I live in the US and am the right age and are similar to their existing customers. I don’t watch the show. I don’t follow their pages. My friends probably do. But, these two friends have very different interests.

My guess? Physical proximity to these friends triggered the ad.

Dear Russians,

A few years ago, I read Hacking: The Next Generation which mentioned using LinkedIn to research an organization to attack it. Pick out the CEO and send an urgent email from this person to a peon to phish them.

Last week, I heard about a Russian campaign attempting to leverage LinkedIn. I just got a connection request from someone supposedly in a small town near where I used to work. This woman was supposed to be a recruiter, but used the most awkward language in the profile. Stuff like a recruiter for US citizens.

I laughed so hard at this. It seemed obviously like someone who doesn’t understand Americans. Which is odd because your trolling the US election was far superior. Maybe I attracted the D team?

Windows md5 checksum

I was sent a script to run by an analyst who advised to verify the MD5 hash. This is good advice to ensure that I receive the correct content. And happens to be the advise I gave the DBA manager before restoring backup files that was going to take hours to download.

The idea is creating an MD5 hash from the file contents is a fingerprint that tells me whether the file is the same or different quickly and easily. The analyst tells me the hash of the file on the source. I generate a hash on the destination and compare. If they differ, then we have a problem.

I do this all the time on Linux. However, the application I was working with is on Windows. And uploading the file to a Linux server from my workstation wouldn’t really tell me if the file on the Windows server has the correct hash as corruption (ever so unlikely) could have happened over one upload but not the other.

So, I was curious if there was a way to do this on Windows. Turns out there is.

certutil -hashfile C:\scripts\filename.sql MD5

The certutil.exe command is a program installed as part of Certificate Services used typically to view SSL information. (I used it via Powershell, but I bet it works via CMD too.) The various flags available makes it look like something extremely useful to know exists. And, I am surprised at never having seen it prior to today.

Collected Quotes 2019

Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together.
—  Van Gogh

…clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness…
—  Carl Sagan

 

It takes seconds to share

News entities are putting this ultimate clickbait in the missing persons articles. And people fall for it hook, line, and sinker.

I see a Facebook post a day where someone is missing. And found before my friend posted it. Usually the person has been fine for months.

It would be nice if Facebook would indicate prominently above the post the person is no longer missing.