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Smell You Later

Smell You Later

Breathe in deeply through your nose.

Let the aroma play with your olfactory sense like a kitten with yarn.

Like it? Good.

That’s the smell of your date on Friday night.

Fred Armisen wafts his B.O.

It’s true that the bulk of dating apps and services are centered around a photo, a profile, maybe a video and not much else. But an artist/engineer/designer has an idea that’s so old it’s new again.

She thinks you should choose your dates based on their smell

It’s primal, baby.

Bleu d' Chance perfume

Mic reports that Tega Brain, the brains behind the breakthrough, has created Smell Dating. The self-proclaimed “world’s first mail odor dating service,” Smell Dating gives users a different way to experience a potential partner.

Through the nose.

Here’s Tega Brain, on Mic:

“I wondered, ‘What if dating wasn’t based on visual information?'” she told Mic. She believes Smell Dating could be a more intuitive, natural alternative to other dating apps that are purely image driven. 

“The Internet has replaced fleshy experience with flat apparitions, avatars and painstakingly curated profile pics,” her site’s FAQ says. “Smell Dating closes digital distance by restoring your molecular intuition. Our members make connections via deeply intuitive cues, perfected in the ancient laboratory of human evolution. Surrender yourself to a poignant experience of body odor.”

Similar to pheromone parties, but a more private, one-on-one experience.

For some, this might bring to mind lurid scenes of nose-related sexuality.

scene from Teen Titans

Is this just a lark, a one-off dash of novelty in the dating world?

Or could this be the most authentic, deep way to connect with someone new?

Further, what does Smell Dating tell us about how smells affect us? About how we choose mates? About being a human?

10 ft spray bottle sprays man

I don’t know the answers.

But I know the questions.

I think we can agree this gives a new perspective on dating and, for that alone, it’s terrific. I’m sure it works for some people. Right on.

It changes the paradigm of how we seek a mate

What’s fascinating is how it does so by focusing on a particular sense.

We’ve explored how futzing with your senses can be eye-opening. Let’s expand Ms. Brain’s idea to include some of that.

What if we trade out the sensory fulcrum in the dating scene?

What if we start a dating event based on touch. You sit across from others with a black curtain between you. You put your hands through a flap that allows you to hold the other’s hands, touch their wrists, etc. It’ll give you a very tactile, kinesthetic interpretation of the person. Lots can be learned.

hands touching hands thru curtain

And it’s not so far-fetched, actually. The Science Explorer reports that “researchers predict dating websites will offer “full-sensory” experiences in the next 25 years, enabling customers to hear, feel, and smell potential partners via virtual reality.”

What if we start a start a dating app based on sounds? There are already several that make matches based on your taste in music. But I’m looking a little more personal, a little more everyday, a little more true you.

You enter audio clips of yourself throughout the day – singing in the shower, growling when the car doesn’t start up, just breathing, whatever – and share them with prospective dates, who choose based on what they hear.

Lastly, taste. I know what you’re thinking. And yes, the idea that you could choose a date based on what they taste like has a few too many unwelcome scenarios.

Camel licking face of girl

Instead, what if we start a dating service that’s predicated on tastes? You detail how you like to eat (do you prefer eating-with-your-hands picnic-style or are you more more refined?), when you like to eat, if you have any hang-ups with food/dining, etc. Maybe you even share a video of yourself eating, like Mukbang in Korea, to give others a better idea of your gustatory guile.

Breaking bread has always been a way to connect with others. This would effectively get you to the table with someone, fully vetted, before you actually share a meal.

In the end, we can think differently about dating by limiting information to one of the senses.

It might be all you need for a budding romance.

dog and lamb love each other

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Photo credit: photo credit: Don Hankins/flickr (CC by SA 2.0)

Get Biased Against Outcome Bias

Get Biased Against Outcome Bias

This is the second in a series of posts exploring cognitive biases, a frequent source of blind spots which inhibit an open mind. Read the first post here.


There’s a kid in my neighborhood – a young teenager – who’s not that keen on self-propelled transport machines. He likes the idea of them. He has his own. But when it comes to skateboards and bikes, he’s a little shaky.

I’ve tried to help him a few times. But it’s…odd. Once on the bike or board, he becomes a scared little boy, grasping my arm as if his life depended on it. He’s a pretty big guy and he holds onto me like he’s on the wing of a plane.

man on wing of a plane

It occurred to me that he needs to experience some independence. He needs to see he can do it on his own. And if he can’t, he needs to see that he can fall, survive, and learn to avoid it next time.

It’s not how many times we get thrown from the horse. It’s how many times we get back on.

Right? So I let go.

man falls off skateboard

He fell. And that’s when I heard it.

“See, that’s why I don’t want to ride my skateboard.”

What? That’s ridic! You never said you didn’t want to ride it. You probably pleaded to get the board in the first place. You’re only saying that because you fell.

I didn’t say that, of course. He’s a kid. But I thought it.

He only decided he didn’t want to ride his board after he fell. Because he fell. Before then, he was game.

That’s not legit. Is it?

Hayl no! It’s a cognitive bias known as outcome bias

Outcome bias is a subtle scourge. It’s decision-making bacteria eating the molecular make-up of your needs and desires.

It will blind you from deep, authentic motivations and keep you from making more appropriate, rewarding decisions.

What is outcome bias?

Outcome bias is the tendency to judge a decision by its eventual outcome instead of judging it based on the quality of the decision at the time it was made.

It’s like when your boss tells you fifty times that the company doesn’t need social media, and after you post something to Facebook that gets 50 new subscribers, he says, “I’m very passionate about the benefits of social media.”

Franco goes Huh

He’s not concerned with what went into his decision BEFORE the Facebook post. He’s only evaluating his decision based on the results of the action.

Worse, now that he’s seen positive results from that one choice, chances are good he’ll continue to make choices the same, misguided way.

Likewise, if the results went the other way – you spent time on social media with no results – your boss could just as easily have gloated, even if it was still an objectively good decision.

Stephen Colbert with I told you so sign

And you’ll wring your hands with frustration because he’s not making decisions based on logic, prior evidence, or even recommendations. He just knows what he’s seen.

Why do we have outcome bias?

It alleviates the need to put more of our attention on details before making a decision. If we’re not willing to do the cost/benefit analysis, look at the case studies, listen to our advisors, get feedback from tests, or anything like that, we can still pat ourselves on the back if we get a good result. And we can chalk it up to chance when we don’t.

It’s the equivalent of saying the end justifies the means.

We’ve all heard that before in one form or another.

Mushroom cloud - end justifies the means

What can we do about it?

As with other blind spots, just having the self-awareness to look at how you make decisions is a large part of getting beyond it. For this, you should seek honest input from someone you highly respect. That can bring the bias to light.

Otherwise, you’ll need to make some changes for change’s sake.

Throw some decision-making spaghetti at the walls and see what sticks.

Make some decisions based on other people’s input, on existing data, on previous successes, on spreadsheets….

robot reindeer

The real-life feedback from that will illuminate your patterns and assumptions, providing you with the context to reconsider how you act in the future.

Don’t let outcome bias blind you from being the thoughtful, considerate genius you are

Resist the urge to judge your decisions based (only) on the most recent result. Make your choices based on all the information available and live with the outcome – good or bad.

You’ll be wheeling over outcome bias like it was a pebble in the Tour de France.

man on miniature bike

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Photo credit: Wallace Kirkland—Time & Life Pictures Getty Images

 

The Sound of Two Eyes Opening

The Sound of Two Eyes Opening

“If you think you’re enlightened, go spend a week with your family.” -Ram Dass

My father and I have always had a push-pull relationship. For every time we connected, there was another we didn’t see eye-to-eye.

There’s no question I respect and love him unconditionally. He’s “been there” for me so many times, he truly earned his father’s day figurine.

think differently about dads

Simultaneously, there are times I struggle to understand his point of view, let alone agree with it. And I’ve pulled out quite a bit of proverbial hair in frustration. (To be fair, I am certain he’d say the same about me.)

But recently, something happened. A piece of information was shared that instantly shattered a preconceived belief of mine and caused a groundswell of compassionate acceptance.

It was just the type of epiphany this blog celebrates

via GIPHY

A little about that

When we see the world through a limited perspective, we only get limited benefits. That’s a problem that can affect every area of life, often unconsciously.

This blog was created to share stories that open your eyes, expand your mind, and in so doing, reshape your point of view. Without getting into the quantum physics of it all, know this:

As you change the way you look at the world, the world you look at changes

So reading this will almost literally rock your world!

Stand up and Cheer for your Epiphany

Ok. Aside aside

I often bring you other stories. But this one’s mine. It’s absolutely true. There was astonishment. And it made me think differently.

How it all began

When I was growing up, my dad and I had our share of disagreements. Many of them were notable (to me) for how facts were skewed (by him). I remember thinking he was fabricating the past just so he could make his point.

After many years of this, a label was made. My brother and I said he employed “selective memory”. I.e. He remembered what, and how, he wanted to remember.

You can only imagine my exasperation when I could get punished based on faulty, or worse, self-righteous memories.

via GIPHY

But there was an important piece of information unconsidered.

Dad said “What?” or “Beg your pardon?” a lot. Though he was loathe to admit it, he had hearing loss. And that, in all probability, was the reason for the misalignment between my recall and his.

But that’s not the eye-opening end of this story.

My father eventually admitted he had a problem. Had his ears checked. And got hearing aids.

And over the years, I’ve come to understand his issue. Even when I didn’t.

Because he would find every possible reason to *avoid* wearing his hearing aids. I never got a straight answer from him as to why. But I think he didn’t want to admit he had a problem. Unfortunately, this meant far too many misheard statements, requests to repeat yourself, and half-earnest nods-and-smiles to make it look as though he heard you.

I was sensitive to his hearing loss, but I would still get annoyed if I wasn’t being understood correctly… because he was rarely wearing his aids! And when he did wear them, they didn’t work well (or so he says). No matter how powerful they were.

How to hear differently

You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink, I guess. It’s no fun having to repeat myself, several times, as though I’m yelling to someone a mile away, But I acknowledge that it’s biology. He’s got a physical impairment. I can accept that. ’Tis what ’tis.

And yet, I’m still rankled when his selective memory rears its head. Even knowing what I know, I still near the end of my rope when he tells me, with absolute certainty, that I said something I would never, ever say.

I think it’s because he doesn’t back down. I don’t know if I ever heard him say, “Well, maybe I’m wrong. Sometimes I hear things incorrectly.” No, usually he holds his position as if its veracity was recorded on videotape.

And that’s when we return to the vexing Land of Impasse.

What is different about this bridge

What comes next may surprise you

Perhaps not coincidentally, my wife and I are dealing with audiologists and the like re my son. As fate may have it, he has his hearing issues, too.

I was on the phone with my father, telling him my kid might have CAPD – Central Auditory Processing Disorder.

If unfamiliar, auditory processing is how the brain translates the raw data of what you hear into the concepts we know and understand.

“When a person has central auditory processing disorder (CAPD), the part of the brain that translates what the ear delivers does not function properly. The person with CAPD can hear sounds, but how the brain translates those sounds is disrupted, and the end result is a garbled message.” –CAPDsupport.org

Then suddenly, my eyes were opened

My dad said, “Oh, yes. I have auditory processing disorder, too. I understand what he must go through.”

In that moment, my heart simultaneously broke and swelled for the man.

For so many decades, in so many cases, I would growl with frustration because he wasn’t remembering the way I remembered, wasn’t hearing the way I heard, wasn’t aiding himself the way I would.

But I never knew that he had auditory processing disorder.

All this time, even if he was hearing well enough, he wasn’t understanding the way you or I might. It explains everything.

  • I felt bad for being such a bear all those times.
  • I sympathized with his plight dealing with an unseen disability that was, until recently, also unknown.
  • I realized how difficult everyday conversations can be for him and how it may have affected relationships.
  • I grew enormously compassionate for my father. He is who he is. Living the best way he knows how. And that, as they say, is that.

I got a healthy dose of my own eye-opening medicine.

What’s it all mean in the end?

I will be more open-minded, gentler, and forgiving with people, regardless of my individual (often trivial, when you think about it) frustrations. McCartney may have said it best.

5 Ways to Think Differently About Making the Best Choice

5 Ways to Think Differently About Making the Best Choice

This is the first in a series of posts exploring cognitive biases, a frequent source of blind spots which inhibit an open mind.


My friend, Eddie, got a dog in October – a rescue named Bowzer – and he thinks it is the perfect pooch. Good lookin’ mutt. Sweet as they come. He’s obedient. Never leaves an unexpected mess. And is always so nice around other people.

Which is great. If it were true.

Every time I’ve been around Bowzer, he growls. Eddie gives commands like “Shhhh” or “Be nice”, but it never works. When I reach to pet him, the growls turn to barks and bared teeth. Worse? The dog can’t control his bladder. So Bowzer’s always arriving at urination station.

Have an open mind about turning this doorknob

 

What’s going on here? Why does Eddie think he’s got a total canine catch when the opposite seems clear as a see-through chew toy?

The culprit is Choice-Supportive Bias

This little rascal gives you the tendency to defend your decision, or to rate it better than it was, simply because you made it. It will also move you to play down the positive qualities of the alternative choices.

You need to think differently about your girl

 

It’s easy to understand why we have choice-supportive bias and fall prey to it

  • You know what you like

Chances are excellent you make your decisions to benefit yourself in some way. (Even deciding to do something altruistic, like giving to charity, benefits you by the good feeling you have afterwards.) You typically make choices that appeal to you. Even the hard choices. What’s to question?

  • You think you’re smart

If you’re reading this, you probably understand the difference between up and down, stout and slim, wealthy and on the road to becoming wealthy (watch your language, friends!). To question your decision would be to question your intelligence. Tough to swallow for us super-geniuses.

  • You did your research

It’s an old maxim in business that people buy based on emotion but justify the purchase based on logic. Nowadays, it’s not that cut-and-dry. But there’s still plenty of truth to it. It’s easy to check for information, reviews, explanations, and all the details you need before making a choice. So the logic behind a decision is easy to put into play. As for the emotion? Let’s just say we all know an impulse buy when we see it.

via GIPHY

And still, you’re prone to choice-supportive bias. Join the human race. Thing is, if you’re like me, you don’t want to realize one day you’re touting the benefits of your new polyester popcorn popper just because you decided to buy it. Because what were you thinking?

Let’s get that habituated limitation off our back so we can think differently about our decisions.

Here are five ways to kick choice-supportive bias in the teeth

Be aware

“The fatal tendency of mankind to stop thinking about something when a decision has been made is the cause of half their errors.” -British philosopher J.S. Mill, 1806–1873

Just knowing that choice-supportive bias exists will give you the context necessary to (re-)evaluate your decision through a new perspective. Ask yourself, “Is that pesky bias influencing me again?” (Maybe say it silently, just cuz.)

Argue the other side

This one’s popular with debate teams for a reason. It forces you to think differently. (That’s our mission here.) You have to make a good case for the alternative decision *objectively* (taking the emotion out of it). Exercise your inner trial attorney and come up with a closed-case rationale *against* your decision. That’ll shake things up.

Compare more than pros and cons

It’s one thing to look at a side-by-side comparison to see if your choice has more of the best features and less of the worst. Since you’re smart, I’m sure you do. But remember, logic is only a part of the equation. In fact, decisions are rarely made on logic alone. Neuroscientist Antonio Demasio proved that.  Instead, look within. What emotions come up when you think about your decision? Does it have a strong charge or not? What if you considered other emotions? Are they more important to you than the logical reasons? You gotta have a sit-down with your feelings and air it all out.

You down with OPP? Seek other people’s perspectives

I don’t often seek other people’s opinions when it comes to my decisions. When you’ve got a formidable streak of unique, they can seem quotidian. But so what? Who’s to say their point of view is wrong? Or even wrong for me? It just may be different than mine. Try as I may, I can never see the world from outside my body, my upbringing, my experience. …Unless I ask others. You never know what you’ll hear.

Note: On this one, be sure to ask open-ended, non-leading questions. “What do you think of this cute new pup?” won’t get you the same quality answer as “If you were getting a dog, what would you look for?”

Questionable choice replacement therapy

This might be the most fun of the five. Because you get to use your imagination and visualize perfection. The tool is simple: If you had to replace what you chose (or are going to choose) with something else that would be perfect, what would it be and how is it different? By undertaking this kind of thought experiment, you’ll necessarily compare the ideal choice with your existing choice and see how it stacks up. Even if the perfect choice doesn’t exist, you’ll know if you’re close enough to it.

That’s the ticket

When you’re ready to tell me why your new dog is the ultimate co-pilot, remember your choice-supportive bias. I’m sure, in your case, it was the very best choice.

This dog employs out of the box thinking

Images: via source 1, via source 2

Can VR Films Change Minds?

Can VR Films Change Minds?

Doubly Whammy! A game-changing product that is already opening eyes provides an experience to help people see differently, with the ultimate goal of getting them to act differently. Glory!

Let’s start with virtual reality (VR to the uninitiated), a technology that is already opening eyes – just about literally – in Health, Entertainment, Education, and more. The list of potential applications keeps growing like a freshly seeded Chia Pet. It gives you a 3-dimensional point-of-view that feels like you’re actually there. You see things in a new way.

Look at things differently

How and what we see is a topic oft-visited. And VR is an eye-opener.

But now we see that VR itself can be used to open minds.

“You never really know someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.” There’s a lot of truth to that. Because there is no one reality. There is your reality, and my reality, and David’s reality after the dentist.

via GIPHY

We each experience our own reality. So until I can (at least attempt to) understand where you are coming from – how you see the world – I really have no clue about your perspective.

Along comes Gabo Arora, a filmmaker who runs the UN Virtual Reality Program, to open eyes and engender compassion. Through a VR film, he’s almost literally putting Israelis in the shoes of Palestinians and providing a glimpse into what it’s like on the other side of the wall.

My Mother’s Wing takes viewers inside the lives of a family living in Gaza. Narrated by the family’s matriarch—a 37-year-old former school worker named Om Osama who has lost two sons in the conflict—it’s the fifth piece produced as part of UNVR, and it’s one Arora he hopes will transform VR from a tool of awareness-raising to one of actual change.

 

“With the other VR films we’ve demonstrated some success with fundraising,” Arora says, “so we wanted to take it to the next level and see if VR can be a tool for peace-building in the world’s most intractable conflict.”

Huzzah! A mindblowing new technology helps people expand their perspective and pave the road towards peace.

 

This is a terrific twofer of Headspanky goodness. Giving people a cutting edge tool that has the power to change your perspective for humanity’s greatest good? Respect!

Changing hearts and minds aside, Arora’s mission is central to figuring out what virtual reality’s future actually is. It might have been developed for gaming, but ever since the first Oculus developer kit hit the streets filmmakers, medical professionals, artists, and even sports trainers have been finding uses for the technology—and many of them have found that the intimacy that VR engenders gives it the potential to make you understand an unfamiliar person or situation a lot more than a photograph or Facebook.

Source: VR Films Work Great for Charity. What About Changing Minds? | WIRED

It’s challenging to expand your own mind and allow for a greater perspective. Imagine how you can help others to see the world differently. Their reactions just might surprise you.

Photo Source: (via)

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