Why you shouldn’t believe everything you think . . .

July 21, 2006 | By | 2 Replies More

I’m halfway through a brand new book by psychologist Thomas Kida, titled Don’t Believe Everything You Think. Kida does a good job of collecting and summarizing a huge number of cognitive traps and frailties that afflict humans. The book focuses on the following six categories of cognitive traps:

  • We prefer stories to statistics
  • We seek to confirm, not to question, our ideas.
  • We rarely appreciate the role of chance and coincidence in shaping events.
  • We sometimes misperceive the world around us.
  • We tend to oversimplify our thinking.
  • We have faulty memories.

The Notes section of the book annotates the examples well, complete with citations to original studies and additional material.

Kida cites a poll showing that 41% of Americans believe in ESP, yet no study has ever substantiated such an alleged power. He notes that the CIA spent $20M on its Stargate program, which attempted to use psychics to investigate phenomena hundreds of miles away.

I’m going to keep this book handy as a reference. It’s easy to read and a good value in paperback. This book provides a good reason to each of us to be humble about our perceptions and beliefs.



Category: Psychology Cognition

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (2)

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  1. Ricky Koppel says:

    Lately I've been thinking that the tendency to defend our views and ideas is a defense mechanism, and I'm curious as to whether this has anything to do with our knowledge of mortality. Its often said that man is the only known animal which can perceive his inevitable end.

    It makes sense that the inevitability of death would cause us to more firmly establish ourselves, in pursuits of purpose. I believe that humans are primarily motivated by desires and goal-satisfaction. If this is true, it is possible that these goal-desires are another defense mechanism, all of which serve to partly displace our attention from our impending demise.

  2. Erika Price says:

    Sounds like an excellent read. It frustrates me to know that many people think they have carbon-copy memories uninfluenced by perception. Those same people often believe in "resurfacing" memories that have long gone forgotten, which all psychological evidence argues can't possibly exist.

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