One of my favorite professors keeps classes lively by interspersing presentations of cognitive biases into his lectures on propositional logic and analytical philosophy. So far this semester he has expounded on:

  • the framing effect – drawing different conclusions from the same information, depending on how that information is presented.
  • the conjunction fallacy – a tendency to assume that specific conditions are more probable than a more general version of the same conditions.
  • The Dunning-Kruger effect – the tendency for the unskilled to overestimate and for experts to underestimate their respective abilities.
  • belief bias – evaluating the logical strength of an argument based on the believability of the conclusion.

To date my favorite is the Dunning-Kruger effect. I especially like the what prompted the initial research: a bank robber who rubbed lemon juice on his face believing it would make him invisible to security cameras.

Do you have a favorite cognitive bias? Leave a comment.

5 thoughts on “To err is human

  1. I also like Dunning-Kruger, but another interesting one is the endowment effect, whereby you’re more likely to keep an object you already own than to acquire it if you don’t own it. People value their possessions more highly simply because they are “theirs.” It’s good to remember this one if you’re trying to downsize your stuff: “Would I buy this now?” If the answer is no, maybe you shouldn’t keep it.

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