Fallacies in Thinking

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Think about the last time you have witnessed a seemingly pointless argument; one where the points being argued were so asinine, or the topic so pointless. Now think of such an argument where you were the one who was so hopelessly wrong. Slightly harder to do? This is a common phenomenon, called the argumentative theory of reasoning, where it is harder to find fault with your own views that it is with others'. Psychologist Hugo Mercier from the University of Pennsylvania claims "It [arguing] was a purely social phenomenon. It evolved to help us convince others and to be careful when others try to convince us. Truth and accuracy were beside the point."

This phenomenon is part of the reason that it is so hard for everyone to admit they are wrong. It is also due in part to this phenomenon that many biases in thinking exist. So if evolution had sculpted our brains with a consistent need to win, regardless of truth, how can we continue to seek and obtain knowledge? It certainly won't be easy, as in the days of our ancestors being wrong meant you were bred out of the gene pool. Being aware of the biases that surround our judgment may well be the first step to working around them. And until we lose this pathological need to win, good experimental design will have to tide us over. This is what psychology has taught me.

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This page contains a single entry by maoxx099 published on December 4, 2011 10:57 PM.

Developmental Psychology was the previous entry in this blog.

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