Why the Grass is Always Greener on the Other Side

grassSummer is rubbish for two fundamental reasons. One: wasps set about stinging everything with two legs without doing anything useful with their time like making honey or pollinating stuff. Two: girlfriends always want to go off on picnics. Avoiding having to eat al fresco was the sole reason our ancestors stopped messing about in trees and found some good caves instead. Picnics are inherently stressful; the apple juice invariably leaks into the bag, the Sports section blows away, and it is always always impossible to find a spot good enough to settle down on. The problem is that as soon as you approach that idyllic lush area of grass you spied from afar it starts looking nasty and patchy. The grass really does seem to always be greener on the other side, or at least further away.

But the Null Hypothesis can reveal the facts behind this illusion, and help spare you picnicking anguish. It’s all to do with selective biases, which are also lurking behind other annoyances like always seeming to be in the wrong queue at a supermarket or the slowest lane in a traffic jam on the motorway.

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