In a deep sense, this item is about Apple. We are biased towards Apple products for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it’s because we became enamored with an Apple II or Mac in our youth and stayed with what we learned and loved first. I see this, in a positive way, with many of my guests on my Background Mode podcast.
Sometimes, the technical superiority of an Apple product in an important respect earns our loyalty. It could be because the underlying UNIX (FreeBSD) of Apple products is appreciated by a technical person who’s accomplished with UNIX. It could be graceful, simple, beautiful design. It could be better overall security. It could be the customer service. Or the friendly retail stores.
And yet, so much of our dialog about technical companies and products relies on hearsay and issues we don’t have direct experience with. In those cases, it’s all too easy to assume that biases founded in technical experience can be confidently extended to opinions about related technical areas.
It often goes like this: We love what we know. We rationalize decisions. If we decided not to buy brand X, brand X must be inferior.
You’re In Denial. (No I’m Not!)
Recently I have come across this cognitive bias issue is several different ways. The first is an introductory interview with Nobel prize winning Princeton psychologist Daniel Kahneman: “Kahneman: Your Cognitive Biases Act Like Optical Illusions.” In that article there is a nifty optical illusion that’s an analog to a cognitive bias one might form. You’ll be intrigued, I promise.
Next, Michael Lewis has written a book about that very decision making process explained by Dr. Kahneman,The Undoing Project. Here’s a great introduction via Bob Cringely. “Welcome to the Post-Decision Age.” That article will also get you started. A quote:
Our decision-making processes, such as they are, are based on maximizing survival not success. Early hunter-gatherers weren’t so bothered with optimization as just not being eaten. This put an emphasis on making decisions quickly.
Of course, we flatter ourselves that we’ve had 10,000 years, perhaps 500 generations to get beyond rash judgments about survival, but, seriously, how much time do we really spend pondering our deepest judgments about each other and about tech? Given the time spent with work, family and Game of Thrones, do we really spend hours researching the relative merits of the companies we like and the products we select? Or how we’ll respond to a tweet. Or the decisions of government?
The above resources are a real eye opener and help explain why there is so much bewilderment about why people buy the products they do and why they’re loyal to certain companies and bad-mouth others. It’s at the core of many things you read here at The Mac Observer and everywhere else.
Next page: The news debris for the week of January 23rd. Apple’s Tortoise and Amazon’s Hare in the race for Home Automation.