Why Is That Boat Sinking // Confirmation Bias Study

Why Is That Boat Sinking // Confirmation Bias Study, Why Is That Boat Sinking // Confirmation Bias Study

Confirmation bias is the tendency to interpret new evidence as confirmation of one’s existing beliefs or theories. For instance, in a recent sailing class, my Canadian student saw a big hairy mammal in the marina. He immediately alerted the student at the helm – “Neutral! Harbor Seal! Neutral!” It was a manatee. He was using new evidence – hairy mammal in the marina – to confirm his existing belief – harry mammals in marinas are harbor seals. Well, that’s a stretch, but you see where I’m going with this. Our preconceived notions can be confirmed, but incorrectly. Let’s look at a sinking boat example.

Why Is That Boat Sinking // Confirmation Bias Study, Why Is That Boat Sinking // Confirmation Bias Study

93% of Vessels Shipwreck on the Lee Shore

“Why did that boat sink?” I hear this question whenever we see sunken vessels – and I never have the right answer.

About the only totally correct answer I can muster is “She has failed to continue to displace water.” Other than that – it’s all conjecture unless I was on the boat or heard from primary sources.

Why Is That Boat Sinking // Confirmation Bias Study, Why Is That Boat Sinking // Confirmation Bias Study

Really Strange Incident

After the Monkey’s Uncle offshore race, we gathered at the St. Augustine Yacht Club to congratulate the winners.

I saw one boat off in the municipal mooring field not following the prevailing wind and tide pattern. It was odd, so I pointed it out to my table mates. “Look at that! Weird!”

And the conjectures began. “It’s sinking!” “It’s anchored from the stern.” “It’s aground.” “It’s on a rock.”

We were all wrong. Well, one of us was really close – the flight mechanic in my class who suggested the stern anchor.

Why Is That Boat Sinking // Confirmation Bias Study, Why Is That Boat Sinking // Confirmation Bias Study

What Really Happened

The boat’s mooring line was wrapped around their prop.

So, that’s why all the guesses that involved sinking felt so strange. Sinking at the stern? Not listing? Why would a boat sink just at the stern – water finds its level – why is the stern so low?

So, the flight mechanic who suggested stern anchor, which we knew is a really bad idea and fairly unlikely, was closest to being right. The vessel was, in a way, anchored from the stern, but not purposefully.

The final question would have to be why such a long pennant on the mooring. We may never know.

Why Is That Boat Sinking // Confirmation Bias Study, Why Is That Boat Sinking // Confirmation Bias Study

Further Details Because Inquiring Minds Always Want to Know

Several area boaters alerted St. Augustine Cruiser’s Net so the owner might see their vessel’s predicament.

This supposedly is the police boarding and checking for people in danger or sinking. They left. Looks more like a pleasure pontoon boat to me.

The owner declined emergency Sunday night towing service or for a diver to clear the prop that evening. I know this directly from the diver.

Why Is That Boat Sinking // Confirmation Bias Study, Why Is That Boat Sinking // Confirmation Bias Study

Race Hosts: the Monkey’s Uncle Crew

You can win the party – or win the race. Monkey’s Uncle crew usually does both.

Thank you MU crew for hosting the 29th Annual Monkey’s Uncle Race.

The weather was beautiful, and sailors saw a turtle, Man-O-War, and dolphins.

Why Is That Boat Sinking // Confirmation Bias Study, Why Is That Boat Sinking // Confirmation Bias Study

How My Students Performed in the Race

It’s called “DFL.” Yes, our boat came in dead f-ing last. BUT we sailed the entire course, we rounded all marks correctly, we saw some awesome spinnaker sets and some tangles. Also, we weren’t last across the finish line. But we lost on phrf; which is completely fair.

Everyone held a course for more than ten minutes, everyone experienced set, drift, weather helm, lee helm, tacks, gybes, and different points of sail – all while watching other beautiful boats do the same.

Why Is That Boat Sinking // Confirmation Bias Study, Why Is That Boat Sinking // Confirmation Bias Study

Pity Award

Yes, we were awarded quite the pity trophy. And it’s joined the other trophies on my racing shelf. It’s a great reminder to show up, enjoy, appreciate, and learn.

Sometimes we don’t know what we don’t know, and sometimes we apply the wrong knowledge to a situation. So, I’m not going to obsess over why we lost.

There could be more factors than I even understand. One, of course, would be that it was my crew’s third day EVER on a sailboat. Another could be stress, confusion, tired, overwhelmed, or instructor failure.

Whatever the reason we came in last; I’m still counting it as a huge win, and another sailing experience.

Why Is That Boat Sinking // Confirmation Bias Study, Why Is That Boat Sinking // Confirmation Bias Study

I Don’t Go Anywhere Without:

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