4 2010

You Are Not So Smart

The Misconception: You are a rational, logical being who sees the world as it really is.

The Truth: You are as deluded as the rest of us, but that’s OK, it keeps you sane.

You Are Not So Smart is a blog devoted to self delusion and irrational thinking.

And it’s great.

The latest post is about on Subjective Validation, “a fancy way of saying you are far more vulnerable to suggestion when the subject of the conversation is you.”

The tendency to believe vague statements designed to appeal to just about anyone is called the Forer Effect, and psychologists point to this phenomenon to explain why people fall for pseudoscience like biorhythms, iridology and phrenology or mysticism like astrology, numerology and tarot cards.

The last was on Confirmation Bias, which explains the success of political echo chambers and why racism and xenophobia will always be with us; humans are wired to ignore evidence outside their preconceived beliefs.

In the last few years I’ve been taking stabs at my own confirmation bias, seeking out the best arguments and evidence from those I might be inclined to disagree with. While there are a tremendous number of pundits making baseless assertions, especially on the radio and television—mastery of confirmation bias is a winning strategy—there are just as many great writers and thinkers across the political spectrum with worthwhile arguments.

Other great posts:

  • The Just-World Fallacy – People don’t “get what they deserve”
  • Fines – The effect of removing the social cost of undesired behavior

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