Resonance

Cognitive Bias: How to Avoid Unnecessary Assumptions & Self-Deceptions

The brain was primarily designed to create, not store. Our thought stream is so amazing that we can think about and come up with assumptions on any random thing at any time at all. The speed of thought is so fast that I can travel to Jupiter and back in just 7 seconds. However, our brain has the power to focus our line of thinking. In order words, despite all the random thoughts, we choose which thought to pick and ponder on. Since our brain is not primarily about storing, we forget some thoughts as fast as we get them.

See your stream of thoughts like search results. Our brain draws thoughts to our attention based on what we have previously fed it. Everything is mathematical in nature. Without self-consciousness, our brain picks data, derives meaning, makes analysis and draws potential conclusions without us even voicing it out. However, most of these “mathematical equations” in our brain don’t always draw the right conclusions.

It’s like solving an MSQ math question, seeing our answer in the options and still getting it wrong. Our brain had all the needed data to put in but still produced a misconception. This is so dangerous to the extent that most of what we know to be true could just be lies assumed to be true. Let’s dive in.

The first influences the rest

One’s first thought concerning a particular and specific matter, aspect, facet, situation, field or even circumstance – be it truth or deceit – will affect the build-up of ideas that comes afterwards pertaining to that area. A foundation of truth is, therefore, essential. Building incorruptible on the corrupt results in deception. That is why it is very important to renew our minds in our new life in Christ.

We don’t have the luxury of hitting the reset button for our minds. How you were brought up to perceive something and how you were conditioned to think about any particular thing will always influence your thoughts, opinions, ideas, concepts, philosophy and mindset. Since you initially didn’t know anything concerning let’s say thermodynamics, your very first knowledge of it is likely to become your absolute truth. You’ll swallow it hook, link and sinker.

Any further knowledge you have about it will be believed only if it’s in line with prior knowledge or any already believed knowledge in another field. Speaking of the latter, let’s talk about our ability to believe something we know nothing about when it’s related well with something we already know;

It is easy to agree with opinions in line with our thinking

If you have no clue in a particular area of study, one can relate it with an area of study you are already conversant with so as to make you understand better. Thus, you now understand because it’s in line with your thinking. This is brilliant and dangerous at the same time. Transfer of knowledge is not always accurate. In many cases, it’s not.

Having had the wrong conception as a foundation, any deception in line with it will easily be treated as truth. Any simple logic that may be true in a particular context can be transferred to fit into another unrelated context just to add up to our made-up fact. This is one concept of deception. Another concept is adding a pinch of lie to a wholemeal truth. When deception is built on a misconception that is already in line with one’s stream of thought, it is difficult to convince the person otherwise.

Sometimes we don’t need a third party to deceive us. Our brains can draw its own conclusions and conceive lies based on truth. This is the concept of misconception. For instance, some whites think it’s the scorching sun that burnt our skin black. You’ll find some blacks who think this way. No one told them. It’s just their own theory they came up with based on the truth of skin burn, the hot sun around the equator and black skin. Their brain took the right equation and still came up with a misconception. Our skin actually produces melanin to protect us against the sun, not that the skin burnt it black.

Assuming less and making decisions better

It will amaze you the kind of funny misconceptions you have in your mind about stuff. So weird and “unthinkable”. So how do we avoid making unnecessary assumptions that make us look paranoid when our weird assumptions come out untrue?

1. Ask

Stop wasting energy that could be used for a productive thought process on an area where you can simply ask to confirm and affirm. If you don’t know, ask. You may realize that the issue is not in the direction of your assumptions at all. If it is, hallelujah. That leads me to my next point;

2. Being right is not a trophy

The reason why we may like assuming is that we find pleasure in being right. We have lots of theories and make baseless assumptions which could still come to pass due to the unpredictability of life. Okay, your assumptions were right. Now what? Should we carry you on our shoulders?

3. Keep your assumptions to yourself

Truth is, we can’t stop our brain from analyzing and coming up with possible explanations for issues we experience. We don’t even need to stop our brain. We need that drive, that curiosity. When there’s a problem, we need to come up with possible solutions. We need to make decisions based on predictions. So don’t stop assuming. It’s not something bad. Rather, keep most of your assumptions to yourself.

This is a good read. I know you just read only the words in the pictures. Please go back to the top and read every word. You’ve probably had this idea of cognitive biases before. I’ve now articulated into words, so read and understand. This last paragraph is intentionally full of assumptions so you’d have a good laugh. Where’s my “my assumptions were right” trophy?

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