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5 Ways We Lie to Ourselves

lying

Confirmation Bias: We look for evidence that confirms what we already believe and we discount that which makes us uncomfortable. Related to the Belief Bias; evaluating information not on the worthiness or credibility of the source but more upon how we feel (i.e. our beliefs) about the issue at hand.

Framing Bias: aka Blinders Effect: We define a problem or situation too narrowly, we laser in on certain aspects (often the most emotional or dramatic) to the determent of other, more salient aspects.

Self-Serving Bias: The tendency to see success as due to our ability/efforts, failures due to bad luck or outside influences; based upon a need to maintain our self-image/self-esteem and protect our egos. Success has a thousand fathers, failure is an orphan; in any success in which multiple groups/individuals participate, each tends to ascribe the lion’s share to themselves.

20/20 Hindsight Bias: aka “I knew it all along”. We forget the uncertainty that existed before the event, now see what happened as predictable, much more inevitable. This bias undermines our future decision making ability and greatly hinders our ability to learn from events.

Attribution Effect: We tend to judge ourselves by our good intentions (internal), others by their behavior (external) or even by the outcome of their actions/behavior whether intended or not. Worse, our fears often lead us to attribute negative motives to what may be benign motivation or unintentional/unforeseen. Or as the cynical saying goes: “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence.”

Closing Quotes:

“The path of least resistance and least trouble is a mental rut already made. It requires troublesome work to undertake the alternation of old beliefs.” – John Dewey, 1859-1952, philosopher, psychologist, educational reformer

“Your job as a scientist is to figure out how you’re fooling yourself.” – Saul Perlmutter, b. 1959, astrophysicist, professor of physics, Berkeley

“Men judge things according to the disposition of their minds, and had rather imagine things than understand them.” – Baruch Spinoza; 1632-1677; Ethics, appendix to book I 

“When a man finds a conclusion agreeable, he accepts it without argument, but when he finds it disagreeable, he will bring against it all the forces of logic and reason.” – Thucydides, 460-395 BC

As always, I share what I most want/need to learn. – Nathan S. Collier

 

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