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Scope Neglect in "This Is Spinal Tap"

by Charity-Joy Acchiardo

In a mockumentary film about a fictional band “Spinal Tap”, the lead guitarist Nigel Tufnel explains the importance of number 11 on the amplifier. Scope neglect refers to a cognitive bias which makes people incapable of properly understanding proportionality in the size of a problem. More explicitly, the extent of the problem is not valued in relation to its size - exponential increases in scope create linear increases in the willingness-to-solve it. When asked by the interviewer, “why don’t you just make 10 louder, make that be the top?” Tufnel fails to understand the basic proportionality that an increase of 1 on a scale from 0-11 has its equivalent on a scale from 0-10.

Scope Neglect in "This Is Spinal Tap"

The guitarist of a fake band explains the importance of number 11 on the amplifier, failing to understand that an increase of 1 on a scale from 0-11 has its equivalent on a scale from 0-10: a case of scope neglect in understanding proportionality.

from This Is Spinal Tap (1984)
Creator: Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, Rob Reiner and Harry Shearer
Distributor: Embassy Pictures
Posted by Charity-Joy Acchiardo
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