Friday, 14 February 2014

Cherry Pancakes (DIY Dress) & Confirmation Biases

Dress is DIY | bag is thrifted | shoes are thrifted | ring is DIY | cherries c/o Sarsparilly

Say hello to my brand new pancake dress! I've been planning this particular dress for months, then spent two days sewing it up all perfect, and right now I couldn't be happier with it! And you'd better believe that I wore it with my pancake-stack ring. You can never have too many pancakes. Only problem with this outfit is that I AM CRAVING FOOD ALL THE TIME. It's basic stimulus and response - I see delicious pancakes all around me, I want to make and eat delicious pancakes. All. The. Time.

I also filmed how to make sleeves and how to make a peter pan collar, the first of which was uploaded to my youtube channel the other night and the latter coming soon!

So you all know how one of my favourite science topics on this blog is the psychology of human perception, and I repeatedly tell you how you can't ever trust that your own brain is giving you an accurate representation of reality (examples here, here, here, here, here and here).
But if it's the case that our perception of reality is actually pretty awful, how is it that we can ever "know" anything? How can scientists, for example, ever "know" that one theory is better than another?

The Scientific Method & Confirmation Bias

An example. One day, your phone is ringing and for whatever reason, what immediately pops into your head is "that must be Gary*". When you answer, you are pleasantly surprised to find out that it is indeed your friend Gary calling you.
"Hey! I knew it was going to be you!" you tell Gary.

The next time your phone rings, you have the same thought: "That's Gary."
And you know who's on the other end of the line? It's your friend Gary again!
"This is getting seriously weird," you think.

A couple of days later, when your phone rings, you immediately "know" that it's Gary calling you. And guess what. It is! "Oh my gosh," you tell Gary, "I don't wanna freak you out, but I think that I'm psychic. I always know when you're calling me".

In fact, it seems like you're always getting it right whenever Gary is calling you. Thus, you develop the theory that you have psychic-phone abilities exclusively for your friend Gary.

But what you actually have is confirmation bias.

It turns out that throughout the past couple of days, other people have also called you. A couple of these times the thought of "Hey, that's Gary!" also crossed your mind, but when you picked up the phone it was actually your mum, and once, a telemarketer. But because these instances didn't confirm the above-mentioned theory, you simply forget about them. This is a case of "counting the hits and forgetting the misses". For each case that confirms your belief, you place a big fat tick against the theory. But you simply ignore the times when that didn't happen. Don't feel bad - we all fall victim to this trap, and it's an extremely human thing to do. And it's yet another reason to always second-guess your own brain.

But how can we make sure that this doesn't happen, for example, in an important scientific experiment? Well, how could we test whether or not you're truly phone-psychic for Gary? This is where the idea of "blinding" comes in.

A "Blinded" Study:
Being keen to get to the bottom of your "psychic" abilities, you invite four of your friends, including Gary, over to your house. Gary and two friends go into a separate room, where you can't hear or see them. They all have their phones with them, and they're going to take turns in calling your phone at random. Another friend sits with you - they're there to make sure you don't cheat. You have a pen and a piece of paper. "I'm ready", you say.

Your phone rings. One of your friends is randomly calling you from the other room. Obviously, you can't see a number or the caller ID. You don't answer. You write "test number one", and then write down whether or not you think it's Gary calling you. Your friends in the other room have also written down "test number one", and written down who has called you.
Your phone rings again. You write "test number two", and again you write down whether or not you think that Gary is calling you.
You repeat this 50 times.

You then meet up with your friends, and compare results.

After a statistical analysis of your results, it turns out that you were actually correct in guessing that Gary was calling you only 14.28% of the time. With these results, you abandon your psychic-phone theory.

And this is how scientists avoid confirmation bias in studies as well. A simple "blinded" test, in which you, the subject, doesn't know which condition they're in (i.e. who is calling them), but is still able to respond, can help to eliminate this very human thing we do called confirmation bias.

Read more about blinding in studies (and double-blinding) here.

*Gary bears no resemblance to anyone I know in real life; I named him after Spongebob's snail.

I hope that you have a great day!

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  1. So awesome! I can't wait to try making my first dress. Oh with a peter pan collar too. :D

  2. I love the dress, so original and cute!
    I'm new in this community so I would appreciate any kind of comment, suggestion or recommendations :)
    Thanks you and have an amazing day!

  3. Oh my word, that dress is just so adorable! I am pancake obsessed and I love it!


  4. I LOVE this dress!! it's amazing! :D

  5. Pancake dress! Ah it's so awesome! What a cool fabric to find and an adorable dress. You're getting so good at making these dresses. I love seeing everything you make. The matching pancake ring is the syrup on top of this awesome outfit.

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  7. aah! I adore this dress! awesome fabric <3

  8. I've been thinking about confirmation bias lately in a very similar way to your example due to a strange phenomenon that has happened to me throughout the years which is that (it seems) that any time someone has forgotten my name (which is Stephanie), the name they default to is Jennifer. It has happened more times than I can count--it happened twice in just the last week--and every time it does happen I wonder what it is that is making people so consistently default to that, like does my face just look like a Jennifer face or is that just a generic enough name that it's what pops into peoples minds or what? It's mostly just funny but it's kind of eery how consistent it seems to be.

    But then I was thinking lately, "Well, do they ALWAYS think it's Jennifer, or is that just that after the second or third time I heard that specific name any time someone says "Jennifer" I latch onto it and ignore every other name?" I am also super into perception psychology these days and am well aware of confirmation bias, so now I'm taking an active effort to try and notice -any- time someone gets my name wrong instead of just when they call me Jennifer and I'm going to keep a tally.

    So we'll see. We'll. See. I think even if people do guess other random names from time to time, Jennifer is probably still going to be the most consistent, but it will still be interesting to see if I've just totally been ignoring instances that don't fall into the Jen-hole.

    1. Hahaha, that's so weird and interesting! I guess that "Stephanie" and "Jennifer" must be quite similar names, or go into the same kind of "category" of names in people's heads? That could also be influencing it. They also have three syllables each, maybe that affects it? And the similar(ish) "n" sound.
      I guess those kinds of things could mean that when people forget your name, choosing "Jennifer" isn't a *totally* a random event, so no wonder it seems eerily consistent ;)

  9. I have a very tight budget for my new dress so this amazing deal on this dress was beyond perfect! Everyone found it stunning, I highly recommend it.

  10. I have found your blog a few days ago, and I traveled throught it since (now that I read it on "paper", it sounds so stalker-ish... I'm sorry!) and I can't say anything but... I LOVE YOUR BLOG! I haven't seen someone so inspiring to me in a loooong time!
    I think your blog (and you, indeed) have all I like, all mixed in a perfect emulsion! I've always liked things that contrasted between them, as dresses and cute styles, japanese culture, cute (too much sometimes, haha!) stuff, kitty cats (who doesn't?) and so, but loved at the same time science (mostly biological and biochemical!), microbiology and etc., fun facts, guns and zombies, and so (geeky, nerdy, things that seem weird to other people sometimes) on!
    What I wanna say is that sometimes finding people with such contrasting interests is difficult, but you are one of them and you express it very well! I admire you :)
    I will keep looking at your future posts, keep the good work!

    1. Ohhhh. Thanks so much for SUCH a lovely comment, you beautiful thing! xxx

  11. I can't get enough of this dress!! I love it!!!
    And that's interesting about the Confirmation Bias. I never thought of it that way (and it's more fun to think you're psychic, right? ^__^)

    1. Nope, it's way more fun to prove that you're not, and be amazed by the ways your brain can trick you, or be tricked, in my opinion ;)

  12. ANNIKA I am SO obsessed with this pancake dress. And you made the ring, too?! You are a kawaii dream here. Where do you find all these perfect fabrics?! You're the DIY queen.

    xox Sammi

  13. Love the dress! But here is something to think about for the next one: it's never good to have a seam in the middle front of the skirt. it looks bad, and also makes a mess of a great fabric! Put to seams on the sides in the front instead, like this (but ofcourse with more volume). If you do it like this you can adjust the fabric and put the print in a perfect position in the front!
    Also, that collor would look amazing with a lace lining around it and it would make it stand out a bit more from the dress!
    Hope you don't mind the comment, just some tips from one seamstress to another! :)

    1. I disagree that it looks bad ;) and with such a full skirt I really don't mind. I had to do this mainly because I was really running low on fabric and couldn't really spare any... But if I had thought about it, I might have been able to adjust the front seam - still, because of the one-directionality of the fabric, it was really hard to try and get the pancakes to be facing upwards most of the way around the skirt, and to match up at each seam (so that where the pancakes are more sideways at the side of the skirt, for instance, the next panel is ALSO sideways).
      So I actually DO have side seams as well because I had to do this (I have a seam down the back, two at the sides and one down the front).

      Hmmmm... Because I made a circle skirt, I had four quarters of a quarter-circle to put together. Which is how I did this.
      So do you think that I could avoid the front-seam if I put it together using 2 quarters at the back, 2 one-eights and one quarter at the front?
      I just am so confused about how I can get the fabric all going the same way. Trust me, I wouldn't have a middle-seam if I wasn't using one-directional fabric!

    2. But if I can figure out how to do it in that way in the future, and have it so the panels next to each other match... I will definitely try not to have a seam in the middle. Thanks! :)

  14. I was actually thinking about Gary the snail when reading this because I showed my class some Spongebob today. I must be psychic ;p

    1. Haha, I think that you must have a psychic connection with The Pineneedle Collective! Psychic blogger skills? ;)

  15. This is by far my FAVORITE of the dresses you've made! It's soooo appetizing ;D

  16. where on earth did you get that fabric????

  17. My favourite thing ever would be if your fashion-y youtube turned into vlogs with educational info like this. While wearing your fab clothes! Xo

    1. *___* thank you!!! I will endeavor to do such a thing!

  18. I seriously love your style! Wacky printed dresses are so the best. I think you did a wonderful job here!


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