You as a citizen
Clear Thinking (Avoid Fallacies)
Can you think clearly about important decisions related to American democracy and America? Ongoing research in neuroscience suggests it is highly unlikely that you can in all cases (cognitive bias). Clearly, an effective democracy requires clear thinking.Wikipedia describes the social significance of cognitive bias:
- “Many social institutions (e.g. American Democracy) rely on individuals to make rational judgments.
- The securities regulation regime largely assumes that all investors act as perfectly, rational persons. In truth, actual investors face cognitive limitations from biases, heuristics, and framing effects.
- A fair jury trial, for example, requires that the jury ignore irrelevant features of the case, weigh the relevant features appropriately, consider different possibilities open-mindedly and resist fallacies such as appeal to emotion. The various biases demonstrated in these psychological experiments suggest that people will frequently fail to do all these things. However, they fail to do so in systematic, directional ways that are predictable.
- Cognitive biases are also related to the persistence of superstition, to large social issues such as prejudice, and they also work as a hindrance in the acceptance of scientific non-intuitive knowledge by the public”
Rolf Dobelli in “The Art of Thinking Clearly”, 2013 lists 99 unconscious biases (e.g. “Survivorship bias”, “Swimmer’s body illusion”, “Clustering illusion”). Identifying these in yourself and guarding against them will allow you to be a better citizen and give you a “leg up” in your pursuit of the American dream.
Think this is “poppycock? Note that Nobel prizes are being awarded to researchers who are identifying biases in thinking. (e.g. Daniel Kahneman)
DEMOCRACY-CENTRAL plans to bring you a set of fun interactive exercises to train and test you on common fallacies. STAY TUNED!