A master lesson in priming, courtesy of The Daily Show [Updated, 4/3]

Let’s talk about priming. It’s the linguistic/psychological phenomenon that explains why someone who has been exposed to a specific stimulus will sometimes respond to subsequent stimuli differently than someone who has not.

Or if you prefer to speak academic, “Priming refers to facilitation in performance that is attributable to prior study of a particular set of target items; priming need not and frequently does not involve any conscious recollection of the targets or the study episode in which they were encountered.”

Priming can have complex effects, as in one study that showed that the temperature of the subject’s drink affected his or her opinion of the interviewer, or another that found subjects’ exposure to words associated with old people (like Florida, forgetful, and wrinkle) caused them to subsequently walk more slowly than did controls.

But priming can also have more subtle impacts, as demonstrated in a recent episode of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (you need to specify now). In the segment, Stewart lambasted the Department of Veterans Affairs for its rule determining veterans’ access to medical services using a measure of distance “as the crow flies”:

jon stewart crow jon stewart crows 2

The Daily Show also flashed the VA’s logo several times onscreen:

jon stewart eagle

All this to say nothing of what Trevor Noah would probably refer to as Mr. Leibowitz’s “beak”.

And so with all those birds appearing in such a short order, it’s no surprise that the person in charge of closed captioning couldn’t get avians out of his or her head:

jon stewart flamingo

I’m literally about to fly (like a bird) to the Iberian Peninsula, and so will hopefully get a chance to investigate this “flamingo” music soon.


Update, 4/3: Almost literally the first building I came across in Cascais, Portugal:

Flamingo

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