The Cognitive Biases That Make Us Terrible People

One of the things we need most right now, as a society, is the willingness to say “I don’t know.” The ability to admit that we aren’t experts on every issue, to recognise that our feelings are often wrong, and to be willing to hear new evidence instead of sticking our fingers in our ears.

Why is this so hard? Because we always think we’re right. In the face of our obvious correctness, under the weight of al of the evidence we feel that we have, how can any other argument possibly hope to stand? And everybody else thinks the same, and nobody ever agrees on anything.

Mark Manson brings us a deep dive on some of the most common biases which lead to this problem. He sums up the entire problem so perfectly in his introduction that I was hooked:

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “How are there so many idiots in the world who can’t seem to see what is right in front of them?” You’re thinking, “Why do *I* seem to be blessed (or cursed) with the ability to see truth through a torrential downpour of bullshit?” You’re thinking “What can I do to make people understand? How can I make them see what I see?”

I know you think this because everyone thinks this. The perception that we understand life in a way that nobody else does is an inherent facet of our psychology. That disconnect we feel is universal.

Discourse is truly a “be the change you want to see in the world” issue. If we want other people to think more deeply, we have to think more deeply. If we want others to listen more, we have to be willing to listen. If we want our perspective to be understood, we have to recognise that there are perspectives out there other than our own.