The likelihood of us believing something increases based on the number of other people who believe it. We may think we are making a rational decision, but often we are just jumping on the bandwagon.
I guess we think that the more people
that believe something, the more likely it is to be true. But of course, they may not have thought it through either!
People don’t change long-standing beliefs easily. We are more likely to believe existing evidence that has stood the test of time than we are new and emerging evidence. This is why radical new ideas such as
evolution and germ theory take such a long time to be accepted.
Everyone knows that we are sometimes tempted to bury our heads in the sand rather
than face our problems. In fact, we sometimes completely ignore negative information. Perhaps that’s why people continue to smoke even when they
know it is harmful to their health.
6. The placebo
effect is when thinking something will affect us actually causes that effect. The placebo effect is common in medicine. If a
person receives medication that they think will help them, it often does, even if that medicine turns out to have been just a sugar pill.
There is also an opposite bias called the Nocebo
effect. In one study, in Italy, patients who were lactose intolerance were falsely told they were being given lactose. 44 % of the participants later reported symptoms of gastrointestinal
discomfort even though they had never actually had any lactose.
Survivorship bias or survival bias is when we concentrate on the people or things that made it past some selection process and overlook those that did not. So, for example, we may believe starting a business
is easy because we see many successful businesses around us. However, we do not see the many businesses that have failed.
It is impossible to live and function in the world without occasionally slipping into
distorted thinking. However, being aware that these biases can occur enables us to think more critically and avoid them when making important
decisions. It is always worth working on ourcritical
thinking skills so that we don’t slip into distorted ways of thinking.
Kirstie works as a writer,
blogger and storyteller and lives in London with her family of people, dogs and cats. She is a lover of reading, writing, being in nature, fairy lights, candles, firesides and afternoon tea. Kirstie
has trouble sitting still which is why she created www.notmeditating.com to share techniques and practices for tuning out the busy mind. She is also the author of Not Meditating: Finding Peace, Love and Happiness Without Sitting