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It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s a Car… and It’s After Me

April 15th, 2017 1 comment

Let’s say you’re in the market for a new car. You’ve visited dealerships, test driven many cars, and even asked your friends for their recommendations. One of your friends mentions a new car that has received

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great reviews, so you Google the car to see what it’s all about. Suddenly, this car starts to show up everywhere. It is parked along the streets by your office. You find it throughout the parking lot of the grocery store and every car commercial seems to be about it. Don’t worry. You are not going crazy. The car is not following you. You are simply falling victim to the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon, or the frequency illusion. This illusion happens all the time and is characterized by paying attention to a new thing and it subsequently seeming to be everywhere. Arnold Zwicky coined this phenomenon in 2006 and explained that it happens due to two psychological processes: selective attention and confirmation bias.

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