Category: cognitive biases
I enjoyed this primer on super-stimuli by Gregory Ciotti, titled “Is Your Brain Truly Ready for Junk Food, Porn, or the Internet?” Super stimuli, featuring the work of Niko Tinbergen. He discovered that we can hijack animal’s instincts beyond their evolutionary purpose.
We don’t always remember how things were, but how we need them to be. Here’s new evidence reported by NPR, titled, Our Brains Rewrite Our Memories, Putting Present In The Past”:
Think about your fifth-birthday party. Maybe your mom carried the cake. What did her face look like? If you have a hard time imagining the way she looked then rather than how she looks now, you’re not alone.
The brain edits memories relentlessly, updating the past with new information. Scientists say that this isn’t a question of having a bad memory. Instead, they think the brain updates memories to make them more relevant and useful now — even if they’re not a true representation of the past.
I’ve written a lot more about memory research here.
Here are twenty things mentally strong people don’t do. I do like this list- go to the article to read more. Many of these have to do with worrying about what others would think.
1. Dwelling On The Past
2. Remaining In Their Comfort Zone
3. Not Listening To The Opinions Of Others
4. Avoiding Change
5. Keeping A Closed Mind
6. Letting Others Make Decisions For Them
7. Getting Jealous Over The Successes Of Others
8. Thinking About The High Possibility Of Failure
9. Feeling Sorry For Themselves
10. Focusing On Their Weaknesses
11. Trying To Please People
12. Blaming Themselves For Things Outside Their Control
13. Being Impatient
14. Being Misunderstood
15. Feeling Like You’re Owed
16. Repeating Mistakes
17. Giving Into Their Fears
18. Acting Without Calculating
19. Refusing Help From Others
20. Throwing In The Towel
This Huffpo article presents ten important psychological studies, many of them counter-intuitive, at least to those of us who aren’t yet familiar with these studies. Here are some defining traits of human animals:
We all have some capacity for evil.
We don’t notice what’s right in front of us.
Delaying gratification is hard — but we’re more successful when we do.
We can experience deeply conflicting moral impulses.
We’re easily corrupted by power.
We seek out loyalty to social groups and are easily drawn to intergroup conflict.
We only need one thing to be happy.
We thrive when we have strong self-esteem and social status.
We constantly try to justify our experiences so that they make sense to us.
We buy into stereotypes in a big way.
This article at Paleolibrarian makes the argument that religion is a classic Hobson’s Choice.
If you are unfamiliar with Hobson’s choice it is essentially the option of no options. It is the illusion of fair and free choice set within only one possible outcome. So if you’re offered just one option and you’re told you can take it or leave it, is that really a choice?
How many religions have urged that they would encourage you to engage in free thinking, as long as you come up with the right conclusions? Stir in threats of ostracizing those who come up with the wrong conclusion combined with the fear of hell, and many a believer has been convinced to draw the curve before plotting the data. All of this is compliments of the confirmation bias, the cognitive bias that causes us to seek evidence that leads us where we want to go and blinds us to conflicting evidence. Thus, many people “choose” religion after asphyxiating their own thought process. But it feels as though one is thinking freely all the way to the preordained conclusion that embracing one’s religion–usually the religion one was taught as a child–is logical.
Why would someone invent a god? There are lots of conceivable reasons. One might be lonely, scared or feeling lost, and belief in could provide comfort. Two books I’m reading have provided a different but consistent perspective on this question of why people invent gods. One of the books, Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel […]
In his new book, psychologist Matthew Hutson has documented many instances in which all of us latch onto what he terms “magical thinking.” Hutson argues that this is not necessarily a bad thing–we do it to keep our sanity in this crazy dangerous world, in which our final destiny is certain death. Nor is magical thinking aways a good thing. Hutson’s book is an excellent read full of intriguing and often counter-intuitive observations, many of them based on rigorous experiments.
Hutson is also authors a blog at Psychology Today. In a recent post, he notes that even scientists are susceptible to “magical thinking,” which often takes the form of teleological thinking:
Over the years, a number of psychologists have suggested that we are promiscuously teleological. Telos is Greek for end or purpose, and teleology is the belief that an object was created or an event occurred to fulfill some purpose. You believe there’s not just a how but a why to its origin, that there’s a mind with intentions behind it. And when an event seems especially meaningful (such as a hurricane destroying your home) or an object seems especially complex (such as the human body) the prospect of a designer appears all the more likely. Some things really are designed—watches do come from watchmakers—but most of the universe isn’t.