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Cognitive biases

Posted on August 12, 2022

If you've ever stumbled upon Wikipedia's list of cognitive biases you might feel like you've unlocked the secrets of human psychology. It suddenly provides a rich vocabulary for the entire catalog of your life's poor judgments and all the stupid arguments you've had with friends and colleagues over the years.

At the same time there is a reason these biases exist, and they're not categorically bad. It's what separates us from the robots. On the one hand, I would argue that in our increasingly complex and automated world, the price of making important decisions based on cognitive biases is increasingly costly. It's our feeling/emotional brain in the drivers seat. (Suggested reading: Everything is Fucked)

On the other hand, as humans we are faced with decisions and value judgments every day of our lives, and we simply don't have the time or energy to make a logical thought-out decision or judgment about everything, or the opportunity cost of doing so is just not worth it. (Suggested reading: Blink, Talking with Strangers) Our biases are also evolutionary shortcuts that are good enough most of the time and keep us alive.