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Timing and Judgments, or What If Your Wife Just Cheated On You?
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I watched most of this interview of Gary Marcus by Carl Zimmer. Marcus is the author of Kluge, a new book about the brain and how its many quirks are a remnant of its evolutionary history.

I haven't read the book. I did read The Accidental Mind by David Linden last year, which deals with the exact same topic. I do wonder how much similar ground they cover and why the two books on the same topic were published within such a close span.

Anyway, in the interview Marcus spends a fair amount of time talking about how our memory and judgments can be easily manipulated, and how this is a generally bad thing. For example, he mentions one experiment where two groups of subjects are asked two questions:

1) What is your general level of happiness?
2) How many dates have you had recently?

The difference between the two groups is that the questions are asked in reverse order. Apparently, the answers are affected significantly depending on the order in which you ask the question. Marcus says that this shows the malleable nature of our judgments, even about our own lives.

He also talks about political campaigns, and how scandals that occur just before the election tend to be weighted more than all the debates and speeches and actions in the past six months. He says that spin doctors use knowledge of human psychology to their advantage.

However, I'm not so sure that the timing of someone's actions shouldn't be weighted more the closer it is to the present. For serious crimes like murder, of course there shouldn't be a statute of limitations. However, let's take a milder case, and I'm interested to see your response.

Let's say you're making a decision about someone you know. Either to loan them money, recommend them for a job, hire them to babysit your child. Let's also say that you found out that they stole $20 from your purse or wallet in your house. But in one case, you found out that this person stole money from you six months ago. They admitted it, apologized, and have otherwise been trustworthy in the intervening months. In the second case, you just found out that they stole from you yesterday.

Now here's the question:

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