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Title: Get Rid of Your Thinking Errors
Source: [None]
URL Source: [None]
Published: Jan 7, 2016
Author: Joachim I Krueger Ph.D.
Post Date: 2020-04-08 12:51:37 by Gatlin
Keywords: None
Views: 78
Comments: 2

Get Rid of Your Thinking Errors
Lift the veil of illusion and live well.

You think poorly. This is the message that has emerged from decades of research in cognitive and social psychology. The honing and tuning of this message owes much to Danny Kahneman who tirelessly professes not wanting to denigrate human intelligence only then to proceed to do just that. His 2011 book Thinking, fast and slow was a whopping success. Why? Part of the reason is that Kahneman writes well, so well that your cognitive illusions he wants you to know about leap from the page. You do not need to deploy statistical or logical reasoning to understand his point that you stink at statistical and logical reasoning. The ploy of showing you your cognitive illusions and making you pay for it has become a fabulous business plan. Dan Ariely, Dan Gilbert, and Marzu Bánaji, among others, have made handsome profits from telling you how dense you are. Their success proves them right, not just pragmatically, but literally. Another reason for the message’s popularity is your psychological masochism. It hurts so good when your stupidity is exposed and you are led to imagine how awesome your life will be when your rationality is unleashed. A less appetizing possibility is that you appreciate the message of stupidity, but think it applies to others out on the street, but not to you. This would be an example of self-enhancement or overconfidence, phenomena that feature prominently on the list of cognitive sins. Many people are happy to believe that others are biased or otherwise cognitively compromised but they themselves are surely not. So there’s a market.

Along comes Rolf Dobelli, a Swiss novelist and amateur psychologist who published Die Kunst des klaren Denkens (2012), translated as The art of thinking clearly (2013) in our language. Rolf’s book is a list. Can you believe it? The book is a list of 99 thinking errors, each described vividly on a couple of pages and accompanied by an admonition not to make it. 99! He couldn’t think of a hundredth? The book is literally a list. It has no narrative arc, though there is an informative epilogue. Each item/thinking error was published previously in a periodical; the book is a collection. There seems to have been no editing, not even an attempt to give some structure to the material. One could have sorted the material so that the social (e.g., conformity, authority, perceived similarity), the statistical (e.g. regression, selective sampling, base rates), and the egocentric errors (e.g., introspection, affect, dissonance) come in thematic sections. No such luck. Dobelli imposes on you the burden of categorization. Given what he says about your ability to do that, he was apparently not assuming you would.

So what is Dobelli trying to accomplish besides making money by insulting the audience? The meta-message he wants to convey more im- than explicitly is that there is no positive theory of how to think well – or else he would tell you about it – being an honorable man. No, according to Dobelli and his intellectual ilk (Gilbert, Ariely, Banaji et alii), there is only a science of poor thought, and to think well is to not think poorly. It is a negative definition of thinking. You’ll be fine if you don’t commit any of the 99 fallacies that are waiting for you. “Eliminate” – Dobelli writes – “the downside, the thinking errors, and the upside will take care of itself. This is all we need to know” (pp. 299-300). But how do we know when there is an error in need of elimination? Dobelli himself talks about chauffeur knowledge in chapter 10 (Don’t take news anchors seriously), asking you to distinguish ‘real’ knowledge from ‘chauffeur’ knowledge. “Do not,” he oracles, “confuse the company spokesperson, the ringmaster, the newscaster, the schmoozer, the verbiage vendor, or the cliché generator with those who possess true knowledge” (p. 48). How can you tell the difference? Dobelli claims – with categorical certainty – that true knowledge comes with an admission of uncertainty, whereas chauffeur knowledge is expressed (over)confidently. Oy, there’s a grain of truth there, but that’s about it. Some true knowledge is certain (the square root of 49 is 7) and some chauffeur knowledge is dressed up with rhetorical hesitation. It only takes a clever chauffeur to do that. In other words, Dobelli gives you just another heuristic, a rule of thumb that often works, but also brings forth 99 errors in the process.

I sympathize with the negative definition to some extent. It works well in ethics. Rabbi Hillel cast the golden rule in negative terms. Do not do unto others what is abhorrent to you. Hewing to this rule goes a long way to make you ethical without giving you a positive theory of ethics. For the study of rational thinking, however, a blanket call to stay away from making mistakes tells us very little about what rational thinking is. Dobelli’s book has been misnomed.

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#1. To: Gatlin, trumpkin canary TDS (#0)

The TDS trumpkin nation.

Ron Paul - Lake Jackson Texas Values

Hondo68  posted on  2020-04-08   15:24:54 ET  (1 image) Reply   Trace   Private Reply  

#2. To: Hondo68 (#1)

Hondo, where oh where did you get the picture of Gatlin ??

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"If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went." (Will Rogers)

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Stoner  posted on  2020-04-08   18:48:02 ET  Reply   Trace   Private Reply  

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