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I am a computer programmer. I do programming professionally and for a laugh.

Technical stuff on programming, java, DSLs, etc...

Thursday, 14 July 2016

The great power of scope neglect

I would like to talk about a fallacy that we regularly fall into but not often enough realise. I suspect it is a form of scope neglect.

The wikipedia article goes like this; "In one study, respondents were asked how much they were willing to pay to prevent migrating birds from drowning in uncovered oil ponds by covering the oil ponds with protective nets. Subjects were told that either 2,000, or 20,000, or 200,000 migrating birds were affected annually, for which subjects reported they were willing to pay $80, $78 and $88 respectively. Other studies of willingness-to-pay to prevent harm have found a logarithmic relationship or no relationship to scope size."

Basically what is happening here is that the mind focuses on the graphic image of a bird covered in oil, totally ignoring everything else making a judgment that is vaguely related to the rest of the scope.

In IT world it rather goes like this;

Brilliant as usual from xkcd (http://xkcd.com/1425/)

Next time when someone is presenting a future architecture, watch out for the number of migrating birds.

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