Monday, January 24, 2011

A-tacky of the awful bedding

I hate my new bedding.

My old bedding was fantastic. It was super comfortable and, I thought, pretty classy -- homey, but not in a kitschy or overly Southern way. Unfortunately, after nearly a decade of use, it was overdue to be retired. To be loyal, I thought a reasonable solution would be to replace it with what seemed to be a slightly different version of the same thing, from the same company. So I went online and did just that. In the thumbnail, it looked fine.

In person, though, it looks dreadful, in a way this picture doesn't even fully capture. It's shiny and has a leopard quality. I'm fuming mad.

I've never returned anything I've ordered online; actually I'm not sure I've ever returned anything, period. But in this case, given what I spent and given that I'll have to live with this decision for a long time, I've inquired about a return. If they deny my request, which I imagine is possible since I did indeed unwrap it, I will donate it to Goodwill and feel like a hero. This is my fault, anyway, for being lazy and taking the order-online shortcut on an item I really should have shopped for in person. Shopping in person is an arduous prospect, though, in weather like this.

I suppose I just got a bit unlucky. Speaking of luck, and chance, we are discussing these very topics in my favorite class, Behavioral Perspectives on Management. Specifically, we're looking at the proven tendency of people to discount the role of chance in everyday life -- to look for meaning and connections in instances that are more likely to be explained just by chance, which, by nature, sometimes manifests in non-random-looking clumps. As an illustration, imagine you were going to flip a coin 10 times in a row. Before you do, write down a sequence of 10 coin flips that you think looks random. Most people will put something along the lines of H-T-H-H-T-H-T-T-T-H. But if you actually take out a coin and flip it 10 times, you'll almost certainly get a sequence that looks less random. When I did it, I got T-T-T-T-T-T-T-H-H-T.

And that happens. People generally do this. By the same token, they look for cause and meaning when there could be cause and meaning, but when it could just be a coincidence. Examples: Cancer clusters, or cities with abnormally high rates of cancer. When this happens, a lot of money is spent finding a cause, usually something environmental. But, then again, there are many, many cities and towns in the U.S. -- and some of them are going to have higher-than-average rates of cancer, for no reason other than chance. Anyway, it's an interesting phenomenon. We had to do an assignment pointing out real-world examples. I discussed people seeing religious imagery in ordinary objects, like this grilled cheese sandwich with an image of the Virgin Mary. Given how many objects there are a world, it stands to reason that some of them are going to resemble calm, pious-looking faces, which some people are going to interpret as resembling Jesus, the Virgin Mary or some other religious figure. That's not to say that God doesn't send some signals through your lunch -- anything's possible, and who am I to say? But it is to say chance alone would explain such things, regardless of any divine intervention.

What exactly this has to do with business is perhaps somewhat dubious, and still not entirely clear to me, although you can imagine using this kind of inside psychological information to manipulate customers or employees. Not that I'd ever do that.

1 comment:

  1. Oh dear. Hehe. Just kidding, it's really not that hideous! And if it's comfortable, it does exactly what a "comforter" is supposed to do ;p