Thursday, January 10, 2013

George Dvorsky - The 12 Cognitive Biases that Prevent You from Being Rational

This is a cool article from the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies (IEET), featuring George Dvorsky, the Chair of the IEET Board of Directors and who also heads their Rights of Non-Human Persons program. Dvorsky produces the Sentient Developments blog and podcast.

I have included the introduction and the list of the 12 cognitive biases - if this is interesting to you, please follow the title link to read about each of the biases.

The 12 cognitive biases that prevent you from being rational

George Dvorsky

Posted: Jan 10, 2013

The human brain is capable of 1016 processes per second, which makes it far more powerful than any computer currently in existence. But that doesn't mean our brains don't have major limitations. The lowly calculator can do math thousands of times better than we can, and our memories are often less than useless — plus, we're subject to cognitive biases, those annoying glitches in our thinking that cause us to make questionable decisions and reach erroneous conclusions.

Here are a dozen of the most common and pernicious cognitive biases that you need to know about.

Before we start, it's important to distinguish between cognitive biases and logical fallacies. A logical fallacy is an error in logical argumentation (e.g. ad hominem attacks, slippery slopes, circular arguments, appeal to force, etc.). A cognitive bias, on the other hand, is a genuine deficiency or limitation in our thinking — a flaw in judgment that arises from errors of memory, social attribution, and miscalculations (such as statistical errors or a false sense of probability).

Some social psychologists believe our cognitive biases help us process information more efficiently, especially in dangerous situations. Still, they lead us to make grave mistakes. We may be prone to such errors in judgment, but at least we can be aware of them. Here are some important ones to keep in mind.
  • Confirmation Bias
  • In group Bias
  • Gambler's Fallacy
  • Post-Purchase Rationalization
  • Neglecting Probability
  • Observational Selection Bias
  • Status-Quo Bias
  • Negativity Bias
  • Bandwagon Effect
  • Projection Bias
  • The Current Moment Bias
  • Anchoring Effect
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