You see, we like to think of ourselves as rational. We like to think we make decisions by gathering facts, weighing them carefully, and choosing the course of action that’s likely to produce the most favorable outcome. But nothing could be further from the truth.
In reality, we’re just a collection of biases and preconceptions. We all live in a mythological world of our own making. We’re not even aware of the nagging bits of information that contradict our mythologies and threaten to shatter everything we believe. Researchers have documented a number of distinct cognitive biases that influence the way we judge. For example,
- Selection Bias
- The tendency to disregard information which contradicts our existing beliefs.
- Confirmation Bias
- The tendency to be more accepting of information that confirms our beliefs.
- Enhanced Negation Effect
- The tendency to be skeptical of information presented in a very emphatic or extreme way (unless you’re a Tea Party member.)
- The G Spot
- The tendency to react to any mention of guns, gays or God with partisanship and insularity.
- The Trump-It Sound
- The tendency to emit large gusts of wind, despite the risk of mussing one’s hair.
- The tendency to think that wealthy people are more American than others.
- Santum Santorum
- The tendency to abandon human reason in favor of divine authority.
- Burning Bush Effect
- The tendency to believe that one family was annointed to hold power in government.
- The persistent belief, despite all evidence, that we have a say in determining our government and policies, when, in fact, at best we have some sway over which group of corporate power mongers hold sway for a few years.