The last post functioned as a light introduction to the field of heuristics and biases. To reiterate, a cognitive bias is any systematic deviation from optimal reasoning. The human brain is a tangled mess of spaghetti code with a long history of cognitive systems (such as a network of neurons) being re-purposed for some new and unrelated function. Knowing this, we should not be surprised to find a great number of errors and biases in our calculations and judgements. While any deviation from optimal reasoning is cause for some concern, some biases weigh much more heavily on our judgements than others. One especially virulent strain of bias is known as Motivated Cognition, a technical term for any tendency to bias our interpretation of facts to fit a conclusion that we wish to be true. There are several forms of this bias, all intimately connected. They are motivated skepticism, wishful thinking, rationalization and confirmation bias, and learning to recognize and correct for them is one of the most important and potentially life changing challenges to overcome.
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