Thinking skeptically

I went to Carol Tavris’ lecture at CFI West’s Winter Session last night.  She spoke about bias and cognitive dissonance.  I’ll give a brief summary of the main points I picked up.

Everyone has two biases: One, that they are not biased (and everyone else is), and two, once a person makes up her mind about something, she begins to rationalize it, and often ends up being guilty of confirmation bias.

Cognitive dissonance is often seen when a person’s self-image (public or private) is challenged by evidence to the contrary; when her perception of herself as a good, kind, thoughtful, intelligent, capable person runs up against evidence that she has lost her temper, said something stupid, or made a great error.  She will often rationalize whatever it was that caused the dissonance: someone else started it; I didn’t have all the facts; someone else didn’t do her job properly. 

The best way to resolve cognitive dissonace is… well, not to resolve it.  You don’t want to be guilty of doublespeak, but in essense, you realize, “I am competent, I made a mistake, and here is how I am going to fix it.”

I wonder if the third option is to change your self-image and start thinking you are stupid.  Possible but hopefully not likely, I guess.

More on Carol Tavris here.

Tonight, John Shook speaks on being good without god!  Tune in tomorrow morning as I slack off work for another thirty minutes.  I do it for science.



One Response to “Thinking skeptically”

  1. coogan607 Says:

    Of course, making mistakes isn’t the same as being evil. I make all kinds of mistakes, but all I can do is apologize, make amends, and try to do a better job the next time. I suppose I “rationalize” my behavior as not being evil because I try to do the good, right thing. Then again, I was taught that intentions don’t count, but if trying to do right doesn’t “count,” then what’s the point of trying? By that definition we’re all evil and we might as well enjoy it.

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