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How to Make Irrational People Rational

How to Make Irrational People Rational

Are windmills machines used to produce wind? The faster windmills are observed to rotate, the more wind is observed to be. Therefore, wind is caused by the rotation of windmills. [1]

This is an example of reverse causality, which happen when we illogically infer causation from correlation. Often times, we mistakenly imply a strong correlation means causation. Let’s look at another example of this mistake. U.S. spending on science, space, and technology correlates with Suicides by hanging, strangulation and suffocation. [2]

    Let’s start by looking at the definition of both correlation and causation.

    Correlation. In statistics, a correlation is a single number describing the degree of relationship between two variables. [3] The key word here is relationship, where a relationship may exist, but not causation.

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    Causation. If A causes B we have direct causation. Meaning, one event is 100% causing something else. For example, if you stand in the rain, this will cause you to get wet.

      Let’s look at another example, one that might initially confuse you (which demonstrates how easy it is to imply correlation equals causation). Does the following imply causation?

      Statement. If you commit a felony, you will go to jail.

      Answer. This does not infer causation, because you might go to jail if you get caught. Even if you get caught, you could still receive probation or a lesser punishment. Essentially, we can’t say for sure that committing a felony will cause you to go to jail. [4]

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      To avoid falling into this trap, peel back the layers.

      We can use a futures research method that will help us focus on an in-depth analysis of our problem. This method is called Causal Layer Analysis (CLA) and allows us to dig into the layers (or dimensions) of a problem. Let’s see how it works. [5]

        There are four layers of CLA

        • Layer #1 – Litany. This is our day-to-day future where solutions to problems are typically short term.
        • Layer #2 – Systemic Causes. Here we focus on the social, economic, and political issues.
        • Layer #3 – Worldview. This is our big picture paradigm.
        • Layer #4 – Myth or Metaphor. Our deep unconscious stories reside in this layer.

        Using CLA will assist us in getting to the root cause of a problem. Go back to our U.S. spending and Suicide example. Instead of implying causation, we should dig into the root cause of this issue. This example shows a strong correlation, where r = .99. The closer we are to 1, the stronger the correlation. However, we know this is not logical. So, we must gather more data associated to this problem, identify other potential causes, and identify the true root of the problem.

        Let’s look at some techniques we can use for this.

        1. Fishbone Diagram

        The Fishbone Diagram (otherwise known as an Ishikawa or Cause-and-Effect Diagram) is a way to identify as many possible causes for an effect or problem. [6]

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          2. 5-Why

          Here is a technique you mastered when you were a child, yet you forgot when you became an adult. Simply ask why. The 5-Why technique is a powerful tool allowing us to peel back the layers of symptoms and get to the root of the problem. [7]

            3. Apollo Root Cause Analysis

            This is a way to dig deeper into root cause analysis. Here we look for (at least) two causes in the form of an action and condition, then ask why of each answer and continue to ask why of each cause until there are no more answers. [8]

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              4. Pareto Analysis

              The Pareto analysis is where we use the Pareto principle. Here we find that 20% of our work creates 80% of the results… or 80% of our problem comes from 20% of a certain population. This is a powerful and effective technique for quickly identifying a problem area to focus on.

                Can you now see the error when implying correlation equals causation? Once we understand how errors like this occur, we can use powerful techniques to expose them and find the true root cause to the problem. We are blind when we fail to do this. It’s like trying to look into a forest, but you are blinded by the trees; where you know there is a forest in there somewhere.

                Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

                Reference

                More by this author

                Dr. Jamie Schwandt

                Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt & Red Team Critical Thinker

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                1 How To Break the Procrastination Cycle 2 Types of Procrastination (And How To Fix Procrastination And Start Doing) 3 5 Tips for Overcoming Procrastination and Feeling Overwhelmed 4 Why You Procrastinate: 7 Possible Reasons You Can’t Get Anything Done 5 Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

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                Last Updated on March 31, 2020

                How To Break the Procrastination Cycle

                How To Break the Procrastination Cycle

                How often do you find yourself procrastinating? Do you wish you could procrastinate less? We all know how debilitating procrastination can make us feel, and it seems to be a challenge we all share. Procrastination is one of the biggest hindrances to moving forward and doing the things that we want to in life.

                There are many reasons why you might be procrastinating, and sometimes, it is really difficult to pinpoint why. You might be procrastinating because of something related to the past, present, or future (they are all intertwined), or it could be as simple as biological factors. Whatever the reason, most of us follow a cycle when we procrastinate, from the moment we decide to do something to actually getting it done, or in this case, not getting it done.

                The Vicious Procrastination Cycle

                For some reason, it helps to understand that we all go through the same thing, even though we often feel like the only person in the world who struggles with this. Do you resonate with the cycle below?

                1. Feeling Eager and Energized

                This is when you commit to taking a new action or getting something done. You are feeling confident and optimistic that, this time round, you will do it!

                2. Apprehension Starts to Come Up

                The beginning stages of optimism are starting to fade. There is still time, but you haven’t done anything yet, and you start to feel uneasy. You realize that you actually have to do something to get it done, and that good intentions are not enough.

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                3. Still No Action

                More time has passed. You still haven’t taken any action and probably have a lot of excuses why. You start to panic a little and wish you had started sooner. Your panic starts to turn into frustration and perhaps even irritability.

                4. Flicker of Hope Left

                You can still make it; there is a little time left and you ponder how you are going to get it done. The rush you get from leaving your task until the last minute gives you a flicker of hope. There is still time; you can do this!

                5. Fading Quickly

                Your hope starts to quickly fade as you try desperately to understand why you just can’t do this. You may feel desperate and have thoughts like, “What is wrong with me?” and “Why do I ALWAYS do this?” You feel discouraged, or perhaps angry and resentful at yourself.

                6. Vow to Yourself

                Once the feeling of anger or disappointment disappears, you most likely swear to yourself that this will never happen again; that this was the last time and next time will be different.

                Does this sound like you? Is the next time different? I understand the devastating effect that procrastination has on many lives, and for some, it is a really serious problem. You also have, on the other hand, those who procrastinate but it doesn’t affect them in any way. You know whether it is affecting you or not and whether it undermines your results.

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                How to Break the Procrastination Cycle

                Unless you break the cycle, you will keep reinforcing it!

                To break the cycle, you need to change the sequence of events. Here is my suggestion on how you can effectively break the vicious cycle you are in!

                1. Feeling Eager and Energized

                This is when you commit to taking a new action or getting something done. You are feeling confident and optimistic that, this time round, you will do it! The first stage is always the same.

                2. Plan

                Thinking alone will not help; you need to plan your actions. I always put my deadlines one or two days in advance because you know Murphy’s Law! Take into consideration everything that you need to do, how long it will take you, and what you will need to get it done, then plan the individual steps.

                3. Resistance

                Just because you planned doesn’t mean that this time is guaranteed to be different. You will most likely still feel the resistance so expect this. This stage is key to identifying why you are procrastinating, so when you feel the resistance, try to identify it immediately.

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                What is causing you to hesitate in this moment? What do you feel?  Write them down if it helps.

                4. Confront Those Feelings

                Once you have identified what could possibly be holding you back, for example, fear of failure, lack of motivation, etc. You need to work on lessening the resistance.

                Ask yourself, “What do I need to do to move forward? What would make it easier?” If you find that you fear something, overcoming that fear is not something that will happen overnight — keep this in mind.

                5. Put Results Before Comfort

                You need to keep moving forward and put results before comfort. Take action, even if it is only for 10 minutes. The key is to break the cycle and not reinforce it. You have more control that you think.

                6. Repeat

                Repeat steps 3-5 until you achieve what you first set out to do.

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                Final Thoughts

                Change doesn’t happen overnight, and if you have some deeper underlying reasons why you procrastinate, it may take longer to finally break the cycle.

                If procrastination is holding you back in life, it is better to deal with it now than to deal with the negative consequences later on. It is not a question of comfort anymore; it is a question of results. What is more important to you?

                Learn more about how to stop procrastinating here: What Is Procrastination and How to Stop It (The Complete Guide)

                Featured photo credit: Luke Chesser via unsplash.com

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