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Brainhack by Neil Pavitt

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12 Don't Be Biased

“The human understanding when it has once adopted an opinion (either as being the received opinion or as being agreeable to itself) draws all things else to support and agree with it.”

Francis Bacon

How biased are you?

You might think you're not that biased, but you are, we all are.

Cognitive bias is the way our mind skews our thinking or decisions. If you look up cognitive bias on Wikipedia, there is a list of over a hundred. There is even one called “the IKEA effect: The tendency for people to place a disproportionately high value on objects that they partially assembled themselves, such as furniture from IKEA, regardless of the quality of the end result”.

Some social psychologists believe our cognitive biases help us process information more efficiently, especially in dangerous situations. The trouble is these biases still happen when we're not in danger and can often lead to serious errors in judgement (like buying furniture that you have to assemble yourself!).

Often, the more experienced you are in a field, the more biased you become. A classic example of this created the central premise for the book and the film Moneyball. It showed the collected wisdom of baseball insiders (including players, managers, coaches, scouts, and the front office) over the past century is subjective and often flawed. Statistics such as stolen bases, runs batted in and batting average typically used to gauge players, are relics of a 19th-century view of the game and the ...

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