Category Archives: Writings

Anchor Bias

At last, the term for what we all know.

Anchoring bias is a where an individual’s decisions are influenced by a particular reference point or ‘anchor’.

For example, an individual may be more likely to purchase a car if it is placed alongside a more expensive model (the anchor). Prices discussed in negotiations that are lower than the anchor may seem reasonable, perhaps even cheap to the buyer, even if said prices are still relatively higher than the actual market value of the car.

Another example may be when estimating the orbit of Mars, one might start with the Earth’s orbit (365 days) and then adjust upward until they reach a value that seems reasonable (usually less than 687 days, the correct answer).

Crash Blossoms


This is a journalism term recently encountered. It’s a deliberate attempt by the author to mislead the reader into mis-interpreting something.

For example, “Violinist linked to JAL crash blossoms”.

The author’s intended interpretation is that the violinist who blossoms was linked to a plane crash (by her father having been on the plane). However, the sentence can also be interpreted to mean that the violinist was linked to something called a “crash blossom”.

Other Examples:

Dutch military plane carrying bodies from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crash lands in Eindhoven.

Squad Helps Dog Bite Victim

Red Tape Holds Up New Bridge.

And More


Rev Ferrett

Originally heard on the TV Show ‘Press’ (previous post).

Reverse ferret is a phrase used predominantly within the British media to describe a sudden reversal in an organization’s editorial or political line on a certain issue. Generally, this will involve no acknowledgement of the previous position.

The term originates from Kelvin MacKenzie’s time at The Sun. His preferred description of the role of journalists when it came to public figures was to “stick a ferret up their trousers”.

This meant making their lives uncomfortable, and was based on the supposed Northern England stunt of ferret-legging (where contestants compete to show who can endure a live ferret within their sealed trousers the longest).

However, when it became clear that the tide of public opinion had turned against the paper’s line, MacKenzie would burst from his office shouting “Reverse ferret!”



John Cowperthwaite, a young British colonial officer was sent to Hong Kong in 1945 to oversee the colony’s economic recovery. “Upon arrival, however,” said a Far Eastern Economic Review article about Cowperthwaite, “he found it recovering quite nicely without him.”

Cowperthwaite took the lesson to heart, he strictly limited bureaucratic interference in the economy. He wouldn’t even let bureaucrats keep figures on the rate of economic growth or the size of GDP.

The Cubans won’t let anyone get those figures, either. But Cowperthwaite forbade it for an opposite reason. He felt that these numbers were nobody’s business and would only be misused by policy fools.

Cowperthwaite has said of his role in Hong Kong’s astounding growth: “I did very little. All I did was to try to prevent some of the things that might undo it.”

He served as the colony’s financial secretary from 1961 to 1971.
In the debate over the 1961 budget, said:

In the long run the aggregate of decisions of individual businessmen, exercising individual judgment in a free economy, even if often mistaken, is less likely to do harm than the centralized decisions of a government; and certainly the harm is likely to be counteracted faster.

Even Newsweek has been forced into admiration: “While Britain continued to build a welfare state, Cowperthwaite was saying ‘no’: no export subsidies, no tariffs, no personal taxes higher than 15 percent, red tape so thin a one-page form can launch a company.”

During Cowperthwaite’s “nothing doing” tenure, Hong Kong’s exports grew by an average of 13.8 percent a year, industrial wages doubled, and the number of households in extreme poverty shrank from more than half to 16 percent.

extracted from ‘Eat the Rich’ by P. J. O’Rourke


Dud Pen

Evil Guy #2

Pendleton Dudley (September 8, 1876 – December 10, 1966) was an American journalist and public relations executive. Once considered the “dean of public relations”, he is best known as the long-time outside publicity counsel to AT&T and as a founder of the predecessor organizations to the Public Relations Society of America and the Institute for Public Relations.

He was the father of the choreographer Jane Dudley and was the husband of the motorist Hermine Jahns.

Ivy Evil

Evil Guy #1

Ivy Ledbetter Lee (July 16, 1877 – November 9, 1934) was an American publicity expert and a founder of modern public relations.

Lee is best known for his public relations work with the Rockefeller family. His first major client was the Pennsylvania Railroad, followed by numerous major railroads such as the New York Central, the Baltimore and Ohio, and the Harriman lines such as the Union Pacific.

He established the Association of Railroad Executives, which included providing public relations services to the industry. Lee advised major industrial corporations, including steel, automobile, tobacco, meat packing, and rubber, as well as public utilities, banks, and even foreign governments

Lee pioneered the use of internal magazines to maintain employee morale, as well as management newsletters, stockholder reports, and news releases to the media.

Nazi Germany

Ed Bern

#1 Public Relations Enemy

Edward Louis Bernays November 22, 1891 − March 9, 1995) was an Austrian-American pioneer in the field of public relations and propaganda, referred to in his obituary as “the father of public relations”.

Bernays was named one of the 100 most influential Americans of the 20th century by Life. He was the subject of a full length biography by Larry Tye called The Father of Spin (1999) and later an award-winning 2002 documentary for the BBC by Adam Curtis called The Century of the Self.

This is the guy that ‘sold’ the Nazi solution of creating a stable state to the Americans in the 1920. He had no faith in humans, espousing the view that a ‘ruling elite’ should use propaganda techniques to  ‘manage’ the masses. An authoritarian to the core, he seems to have been the person who changed politicians view of people from citizens to consumers.

Bernays’ client, George W. Hill, president of the American Tobacco Company, had asked him: ‘How can we get women to smoke on the street. They’re smoking indoors. But, damn it, if they spend half the time outdoors and we can get ’em to smoke outdoors, we’ll damn near double our female market.

Bernays began to ponder. How best to employ the theories which had already proven so effective in his public relations campaigns: Gustave Le Bon’s principles of mass psychology, Wilfred Trotter’s herd instinct theses and, above all, the hidden drives of human beings that Sigmund Freud – Bernays’ ‘Uncle Sigi’ in Vienna – spoke about?

Bernays needed advice and consulted the psychiatrist A.A. Brill, who had been one of Freud’s pupils. ‘What’, he asked Brill, ‘is the psychological basis for a woman’s desire to smoke?’ ‘Cigarettes which are equated with men’, came the reply, ‘become torches of freedom.’ That was Bernays’ inspiration. His campaign? To get young feminists to light up cigarettes – torches of freedom – in public as an act of emancipation during New York’s Easter Parade. This, he believed, would make its way into the nation’s newspapers.

Trek Zero

46 Things that never happen in Star Trek

1) The Enterprise runs into a mysterious energy field of a type that it has encountered several times before.

2) The Enterprise goes to check up on a remote outpost of scientists, who are all perfectly all right.

3) The Enterprise comes across a Garden-of-Eden-like planet called
Paradise, where everyone is happy all the time. However, everything is soon revealed to be exactly as it seems.

4) The crew of the Enterprise discover a totally new life-form, which later turns out to be a rather well-known old life-form, wearing a silly hat.

5) The crew of the Enterprise are struck by a strange alien plague, for which the cure is found in the well-stocked sick-bay.

6) An enigmatic being composed of pure energy attempts to interface to the Enterprise’s computer, only to find out that it has forgotten to bring the right leads.

7) A power surge on the Bridge is rapidly and correctly diagnosed as a faulty capacitor by the highly-trained and competent  engineering staff.

8) A power surge on the Bridge fails to electrocute the user of a
computer panel, due to a highly sophisticated 24th century surge
protection feature called a ‘fuse’.

9) The Enterprise ferries an alien VIP from one place to another without serious incident.

10) The Enterprise is captured by a vastly superior alien intelligence
which does not put them on trial.

11) The Enterprise separates as soon as there is any danger.

12) The Enterprise gets involved in an enigmatic, strange, and dangerous situation, and there are no pesky aliens they can blame it on in the end.

13) The Enterprise is captured by a vastly inferior alien intelligence
which they easily pacify by offering it some sweeties.

14) The Enterprise is involved in a bizarre time-warp phenomenon, which is in some way unconnected with the 20th century.

15) Somebody takes out a shuttle and it doesn’t explode or crash.

16) A major Starfleet emergency breaks out near the Enterprise, but fortunately some other ships in the area are able to deal with it to everyone’s satisfaction.

17) The shields on the Enterprise stay up during a battle.

18) The Enterprise visits the Klingon Home World on a bright, sunny, day.

19) An attempt at undermining the Klingon-Federation alliance is
discovered without anyone noting that such an attempt, if
successful, “would represent a fundamental shift of power
throughout the quadrant.”

20) A major character spends the entire episode in the Holodeck without a single malfunction trapping him/her there.

21) Picard hears the door chime and doesn’t bother to say “Come.”

22) Picard doesn’t answer a suggestion with “Make it so”!

23) Picard walks up to the replicator and says, “Coke on ice.”

24) Counsellor Troi states something other than the blindingly

25) Mood rings come back in style, jeopardizing Counselor Troi’s position.

26) Worf and Troi finally decide to get married, only to have Kate Pulaski show up and disrupt the wedding by shouting, “Did he read you love poetry?!  Did he serve you poisonous tea?! He’s MINE!”

27) When Worf tells the bridge officers that something is entering visual range, no one says “On screen.”

28) Worf actually gives another vessel more than 2 seconds to respond to one of the Enterprise’s hails.

29) Worf kills Wesley by mistake in the holodeck, (pity this wasn’t
done in “Deja Vu” then we could have seen it 5 times without
rewinding the tape).

30) Wesley Crusher gets beaten up by his classmates for being a smarmy git, and consequently has a go at making some friends of his own age for a change.

31) Wesley saves the ship, the Federation, and the Universe as we
know it, and EVERYONE is grateful (including the Net).

32) The warp engines start playing up a bit, but seem to sort
themselves out after a while without any intervention from boy genius Wesley Crusher.

33) Wesley Crusher tries to upgrade the warp drive and they work better than ever.

34) Beverly Crusher manages to go through a whole episode without having a hot flush and getting breathless every time Picard is in the room.

35) Guinan forgets herself, and breaks into a stand up comedy routine.

36) Data falls in love with the replicator.

37) Kirk (or Riker) falls in love with a woman on a planet he visits,
and isn’t tragically separated from her at the end of the episode.

38) The Captain has to make a difficult decision about a less advanced people which is made a great deal easier by the Starfleet Prime Directive.

39) An unknown ensign beams down as part of an away team and lives to tell the tale.

40) Spock or Data is fired from his high-ranking position for not
being able to understand the most basic nuances of about one in three sentences that anyone says to him.

41) Kirk’s hair remaining consistent for more that 1 consecutive episode.

42) Kirk gets into a fistfight and doesn’t rip his shirt.
(Or even, Kirk DOESN’T get into a fistfight…)

43) Kirk doesn’t end up kissing the troubled guest-female before she doesn’t sacrifice herself for him.

44) Scotty doesn’t mention the laws of physics.

45) Spock isn’t the only crew member not affected by new weapon/attack by alien race/etc!! due to his “darn green blood” or “bizarre Vulcan physiology” and thus he cannot save the day.

46) The episode ends without Bones & Kirk laughing at Spock’s inability to understand the joke, and he doesn’t raise his eybrow.