We all make mistakes. We all hold false opinions. And we all perform mental gymnastics to hold onto false facts and reject true facts. Why does this happen?
(Sorry for the headline, hopefully you will forgive me as this is an introduction to a series on cognitive biases!)
The human brain has carried mankind to extreme heights, from (allegedly) landing on the moon to the iPhone. Often, along the way, we make shortcuts to be able to compile and parse hordes of information. This is mostly for our benefit! Nobody has the time, attention span or need to deeply investigate every topic to its bare details. Cognitive biases reveal how we carry a belief and why we may clutch onto it so tightly.
Fake News, Conspiracy Theories, and Sinbad as Shazam
This topic is particularly poignant recently given the unyielding barrage of information and unending battle to define a narrative in a political context. But the underlying flaws in human discernment has always existed. Roughly 1 in 4 Americans believe that the Sun orbits the Earth. We surely have met people who believe the Earth is flat, that 9/11 was staged and that J Edgar Hoover worked with the KGB to raise a false flag with the Commie-sympathizing Lee Harvey Oswald.
There is a bit of condescension or mocking in evaluating some of these facts but the conceit lies in the “intelligent” reader. While many of these theories may be mocked and laughed at, every single reader of this is currently holding a false belief in their head (besides the writer of this article obviously). What is most interesting or perhaps dangerous is why and how we choose to cling onto these beliefs.
What Is Our Goal in Writing This?
Bias. Propaganda. Marketing. Many people compete for your time (like the greedy DQYDJ), your attention and your money. These agents (unlike the greedy DQYDJ), however, may not have your best interest at heart. The only antidote to this may be in understanding why and how we form our opinions. Why, of the many alternative facts that we are bombarded with to develop a narrative, do we gravitate towards one?
We plan on a loose structure for the writing of this series but are planning on writing 10-15 articles on different cognitive biases and how it may crop up in your day-to-day life and linking back to this article. We will continue to publish personal finance articles as well so consider this a supplement that will come alongside the other articles.
Table of Contents
“Lying to ourselves is more deeply ingrained than lying to others.” – Fyodor Dostoevsky