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VIII. Misinterpret

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In Chapter 5, To Err is Human, Norman discusses how humans tend to “misinterpret” or not connect certain clues to certain scenarios. For example, in the beginning of the paragraph, Norman quotes a reformed thief who claims that if he got 100 dollars every time he heard a dog’s owner telling their dog to shut up, he’d be rich (Norman 127). Norman claims that we often don’t pay attention to the “minor” things such as a dog barking randomly or a car making funny noises. We don’t pay attention to these things because they have just become the social norms in our society. We as human beings have concluded that these situations are normal and happen by chance all the time. “Norman also brings up an interesting point that if a disastrous event takes place, people’s explaining away the signs of impending disaster always seem implausible to others” (Norman 128). He then gives the example of the Three Mile Island incident and Chernobyl. While people tend to throw the blame all on the engineers, Norman reasons that each error was logical and understandable. This then relates to Norman’s thought that human error stems all from bad design. I agree with Norman that everything can simply just be linked to a bad interface. As humans we make mistakes and shrug off small signs that may seem like warnings but aren’t too suspicious because we believe that it’s too “normal” to link these things to disasters. For example, I don’t find it odd or unusual to see a dog barking while no one’s around because I’ve connected this event to being part of the everyday life. I’ve noticed that people don’t seem to notice the “little things” until something goes wrong. It’s like the famous saying, “you don’t know what you have until it’s gone”.  A dog owner isn’t going to pay attention to every single dog bark and find it unusual unless he gets robbed or something happens. I’ve noticed that people don’t react unless something negative happens. Also, I find it funny that if people tend to pay attention to every little detail, then others would see that person as a paranoid individual. Well maybe being this “paranoid” or careful individual will end up leading a more successful life in the end or they’ll just end up being a social pariah.


Written by minjikwon

September 30, 2009 at 3:30 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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