The revolution may not be televised, but our biases will.  ABC’s Primetime is currently running a series entitled ‘Basic Instincts.’  ‘The Human Chain‘, which ran last week, examined the ‘Six Degrees’ principle in part by visiting Columbia University’s Small World Project.  Last night on their ‘Lost and Found‘ episode they field tested game theory to predict human behavior by turning six pairs of strangers loose in Washington D.C. with instructions to find one another. 

Meanwhile over on NBC, the new gameshow, Identity, hosted by Penn Gillette, aired.  The central premise of this show is for the contestant to match professions with 12 strangers based solely on appearance.  During a recent interview on the Glenn Beck show, Penn expressed his interest to participate in the project, which could be characterized as a psychological experiment, on the principle that our first impressions are usually correct. 

What these programs are finally daring to explore, though likely unwitting, is part of the underlying structure of our society.  Primetime is not just reporting whether their subjects can complete the task, but touching our brains evolutionary propensity to utilize complex problem solving skills.   NBC is not just highlighting our ability to make snap judgments, but our use cognitive biases to simplify our decision making.  While these programs do not go overly in depth into any particular concept, at least they begin to raise questions regarding the way we think.

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