Category: Psychology

TargetThe Texas sharpshooter fallacy is a logical fallacy in which pieces of information that have no relationship to one another are called out for their similarities, and that similarity is used for claiming the existence of a pattern. This fallacy is the philosophical/rhetorical application of the multiple comparisons problem in statistics, and apophenia in cognitive psychology. It is related to the clustering illusion, which refers to the tendency in human cognition to interpret patterns in randomness where none actually exist.

The name comes from a joke about a Texan who fires some shots at the side of a barn, then paints a target centered on the biggest cluster of hits and claims to be a sharpshooter.

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Confabulation is a memory disturbance that is characterized by verbal statements and/or actions that inaccurately describe history, background, and present situations. Confabulation is considered “honest lying,” but is distinct from lying because there is typically no intent to deceive and the individual is unaware that their information is false. Although patients can present blatantly false information (“fantastic confabulation”), confabulatory information can also be coherent, internally consistent, and relatively normal. Individuals who confabulate are generally very confident about their recollections, despite evidence contradicting its truthfulness. The most known causes of confabulation are traumatic and acquired (e.g., aneurysm, edema) brain damage, and psychiatric or psychological disorders (e.g., schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease).

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The illusion of transparency is a tendency for people to overestimate the degree to which their personal mental state is known by others. Another manifestation of the illusion of transparency (sometimes called the observer’s illusion of transparency) is a tendency for people to overestimate how well they understand others’ personal mental states.

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The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which the unskilled suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly rating their ability much higher than average. This bias is attributed to a metacognitive inability of the unskilled to recognize their mistakes.

Actual competence may weaken self-confidence, as competent individuals may falsely assume that others have an equivalent understanding. As Kruger and Dunning conclude, “the miscalibration of the incompetent stems from an error about the self, whereas the miscalibration of the highly competent stems from an error about others”.

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Derealization (sometimes abbreviated as DR) is an alteration in the perception or experience of the external world so that it seems unreal. Other symptoms include feeling as though one’s environment is lacking in spontaneity, emotional coloring and depth. It is a dissociative symptom of many conditions, such as psychiatric and neurological disorders, and not a standalone disorder. It is also a transient side effect of acute drug intoxication, sleep deprivation, and stress.

Derealization is a subjective experience of unreality of the outside world, while depersonalization is unreality in one’s sense of self. Although most authors currently regard derealization (surroundings) and depersonalization (self) as independent constructs, many do not want to separate derealization from depersonalization. The main reason for this is nosological, because these symptoms often co-occur, but there is another, more philosophical reason: the idea that the phenomenological experience of self, others, and world is one continuous whole. Thus, feelings of unreality may blend in and the person may puzzle over deciding whether it is the self or the world that feels unreal to them.

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