going mental (5) the slice is not the pie

Next time you hear yourself or someone else complain and make a sweeping generalization ascribing all the problems of Metro Manila to some inherent fatal flaw in the national character, think about this James Surowiecki gem from the last August's issue of The New Yorker:

"People are generally bad at accepting the importance of context and chance. We fall prey to what the social psychologist Lee Ross called “the fundamental attribution error”—the tendency to ascribe success or failure to innate characteristics, even when context is overwhelmingly important. In one classic demonstration, people shown a person shooting a basketball in a gym with poor lighting and another person shooting a basketball in a gym with excellent lighting assume that the second person hit more shots because he was a better player. This problem is compounded by the tendency to extrapolate big conclusions from small samples, something that behavioral economists call “the law of small numbers.”
The article is about the woes of Airbus but it's insight is so applicable to the quick conclusions that people make about Metro Manila. Think about that quote and then think: 500 years, 11 million people, 17 jurisdictions...

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