We don’t always know what we believe we know. Allow me to explain.
In 2002, Daniel Kahneman was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics. He did so by exposing a number of biases and errors in the logic and reasoning that underpin many of our decisions during the course of his career.
His book Thinking Fast And Slow lays out all of his results in detail, with examples and questions that lead us to make the same mistakes we’re reading about.
A simple arithmetic issue illustrates this: If a bat and a ball cost $1.10 together, and the bat costs $1.00 more than the ball, how much does the ball cost?
Our system one, like Kahneman, refers to it — our quick, intuitive, preconscious intellect – yells out a $0.10 answer. Our system two, or consciousness, the slow but analytical problem-solving self, needs to step in and tell us that answer is incorrect. $0.05 is the correct answer.
Our minds are perpetually in a cycle of forecasting the future and comparing it to the present. This goes unnoticed because it is a system one act. The only time we are aware of the forecasts is when they prove to be incorrect.
When your system one needs assistance comprehending what’s going on, it alerts you, the system two. A loud noise, a bright light, and an explanation that doesn’t make up all result in pleas for assistance.
The slowness and energy consumption of system two are the main reasons we don’t utilise it all of the time. Your intuition is far faster, but it does it by using shortcuts and heuristics. Consider that, while you may have figured out the proper answer to the bat and ball dilemma, it took you more time and effort to come up with the incorrect one.
That quick mode of thought isn’t all bad: it allows us to read a person’s body language in a split second, gauge traffic flow and anticipate where everything will be in the next moment, and, most significantly, it frees up the powerhouse system two to deal with more difficult problems.
The illusions provided here are the result of system one’s failures; they take advantage of the shortcuts that it relies on In order to slip by unnoticed.
“To recall clearly is to observe attentively.” — Poe, Edgar Allan
1. The Influence Of Story
Our perception of the world is impacted by a desire for a storey that stems from our dissatisfaction with ambiguity and random happenings.
Make Your Point Stick
Our entire lives are a single narrative. We perceive it as the past, present, and future, with our objectives and wants acting as the narrative’s driving forces.
It’s no surprise that we enjoy this style of presentation.
We only employ Broca’s and Wernicke’s areas in the brain, which are associated with language, when we read or listen to something that isn’t a storey. We release oxytocin when we become engrossed in a tale because our sensory cortex and insula light up, areas associated with sensations, emotions, and self-awareness.
“Nostalgia is like a grammar lesson: you find the present tense, but the past perfect.” – Owens Lee Pomeroy
It’s practically impossible to avoid making decisions based on personal experience.
Make Your Point Stick
The narrative’s cohesion is very crucial. Overhearing two sides of a conversation is less distracting than hearing only one side, according to one study. The authors of Make It Stick suggest that we are compelled to infer the missing half of the dialogue because of our narrative-seeking imaginations.
This is related to the fluency effect: if we get more engaged with stories and these stories are simple to digest using system one, we may perceive them to have far more truth than they actually do. The intelligent marketers that use storytelling have a definite advantage.
2. The Sense of Fluency
Because we take in information faster when we’ve been prepared for it, the speed with which we absorb it shows us how well-predicted it was.
When one item influences the awareness of another, this is known as the priming effect.
Those who have already read the word “tea” will read the word “coffee” faster. When the environment is predictable and can be predicted based on previous events, things operate smoothly.
“Memory is the diary that we all carry about with us.” – Oscar Wilde
When the information we consume is fluid and simple to absorb, we don’t need system two as much. When our processing fluency is low, our analytical selves get more involved, making us more adept at detecting information flaws.
The relative easiness gives no hint that extra thought is required, therefore the absence of disruption to processing is mistaken for truth. That which is simple to comprehend is frequently regarded as beautiful, and that beauty is perceived as more familiar, even when it is our first interaction with it.
3. Implantable Memory Devices
A memory is reopened for change every time we recall it. The flexible nature of our memories when they’re fresh in our minds is similar to a word document on your computer; the text may be readily changed each time it’s opened.
The new memory is saved until it is opened again, at which point the alterations begin anew.
Later in life, this cycle can rise to some strong but demonstrably false memories.
Elizabeth Loftus conducted a study in which participants were asked to recall as many details as possible about a series of childhood memories.
Loftus had specified the events to be documented after learning about them from the participants’ families. One incident, however, was entirely made up, despite being packed with places or people familiar to the participant: being lost in the mall at the age of five.
Even after being told there was an impostor, 6 of the 24 people engaged indicated they remembered the phoney event, and 5 of them failed to recognise it as the odd one out.
“You don’t always realise how valuable a moment is until it becomes a memory.” Dr Seuss –
4. The Wisdom Constraint
Empathy’s power comes from being able to inhabit another person’s emotional and mental state of mind. The curse of knowledge implies that attempting to assume the mental state of someone less intelligent, even if that person is your prior self, can be difficult.
The curse, coined by economists Colin Camerer, George Loewenstein, and Martin Weber, is applied to those who are more well-informed, preventing them from seeing things from the perspective of someone with less experience. We overcompensate our ability to learn from and forecast other scenarios due to the curse of information.
The consequence of believing that an event was predicted only after it happened is known as hindsight bias. When something occurs, our minds weave a coherent narrative around it. We offer ourselves a fluent and captivating narrative that we believe was and is absolutely predicted by creating this scenario. Normally, it was everything but, but our faith in the storey encourages us to believe that the future will be predictable as well.
“Your memories form your self, and your mental habits develop your memories.” Rick Warren (Rick Warren.com)
5. Memories That Spread
You may be beginning to doubt how many of your recollections are accurate representations of your own experiences, but it turns out that some of your memories may be accurate representations of someone else’s experiences.
When two people who witnessed the same event get together to discuss it, the result can be a mash-up of memories, leading both persons to believe they had witnessed some aspects from the perspective of another person.
In the same way that people’s behaviour changes in groups, so may their memories. The ramifications are far-reaching in the legal world, casting doubt on eyewitness statements and testimony.
After an event, Elizabeth Loftus discovered that even minor changes in the leading question might modify people’s perceptions of what happened.
“Leave a lasting impression.” Bruce Lee –Remember
Without our memories, we wouldn’t be able to travel very far.
They aren’t just there to offer us something to reflect on; they also assist us in forecasting the future, learning new languages and talents, and reminiscing. Memories may appear pliable, and the illusions that come with them may put our faith in them in jeopardy, but they are what define us. Without memory, our entire life storey would be meaningless.
However, be sceptical of what you believe; don’t accept anything as true just because you remember it; instead, consider where that memory originated from and whether it was affected.
Incorporate system two, the analytical and forceful self, from Kahneman’s book.
We’ll be less affected by illusions and more secure in what we know if we increase our awareness and insight. Are there any memories from your past that you’ve questioned?