[APG Public List] forms of bias to think about

John Wylie john at johnwylie.com
Sun Dec 27 16:21:49 MST 2009


This is very helpful. As I read the brief explanation of each bias, I
wondered if that bias might help explain why I was unsuccessful with a
client. Let's see if these examples show that I got it. 

Anchoring might apply to the client who demanded that my research support
only the "proof document" found by another professional that he was
convinced would get him into the Society of The Cincinnati, but was
rejected. No amount of contradictory evidence would dissuade him. After a
year, he gave up on me and hired yet a third professional who got him in,
but through a different ancestor and into a different state. 

Availability might apply to the client who had found a 12 marker DNA match
with a supposed cousin so he could join what he believed was a prestigious
family association. I really don't know what happened with this case after I
was no longer involved but he was so thrilled with the 12 marker match he
didn't want to hear any challenge to his new-found proof. 

Attribution was applicable for a client who was upset when I showed her that
she had a black ancestor. She felt that since none of her family looked
black, they could not have had black ancestors. I couldn't persuade her so
we ended our business relationship on that point. 

John Wylie
APG Member 


-----Original Message-----
From: apgpubliclist-bounces at apgen.org
[mailto:apgpubliclist-bounces at apgen.org] On Behalf Of hhsh at earthlink.net
Sent: Sunday, December 27, 2009 10:19 AM
To: apgpubliclist at apgen.org
Subject: [APG Public List] forms of bias to think about

For a reflective time: I just ran across three principal biases identified
1974 and recounted by Jerome Groopman in 2009 in the context of medical 
diagnosis. They seem relevant to genealogical diagnosis as well!


	"anchoring," where a person overvalues the first data he encounters
and so is 
skewed in his thinking;

	"availability," where recent or dramatic cases quickly come to mind
and color 
judgment about the situation at hand; and

	"attribution," where stereotypes can prejudice thinking so
conclusions arise 
not from data but from such preconceptions.

[end quote]

New York Review of Books 56(17):26, 5 November 2009, citing Amos Tversky and

Daniel Kahneman, "Judgment Under Uncertainty: Heuristics and Biases: Bias in

Judgments Reveals Some Heuristics of Thinking Under Uncertainty," Science 
I185(4157), 1974.


Harold Henderson
Research and Writing from Northwest Indiana
hhsh at earthlink.net
home office 219/324-2620

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