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How “Science Says” Blinds Human Brains From Thinking Clearly

How “Science Says” Blinds Human Brains From Thinking Clearly

“Lies, damned lies, and statistics!” Have you heard this phrase before? It demonstrates how people can use statistics to strengthen arguments, specifically weak arguments.

    This simple comic demonstrates a logical fallacy we often fall for. We have all deferred to an expert or a position of authority before, yet how do we know they were accurate? This is called Authority Bias. Let’s take a look at how this works:[1]

    1. Person X is an authority in a particular field.
    2. Person X says something about a topic in their respective field.
    3. Person X is probably correct because they’re an expert.

    Another form of bias we typically fall victim to is Confirmation Bias. This occurs from the direct influence of desire on our beliefs. If we wish a certain idea or concept to be true, we end up believing it to be true. This leads to completely ignoring or rejecting information because we have already formed and embraced a specific belief. [2]

    We can never be 100% confident.

      A skeptical mind is a good thing. We can be 100% confident that we can never be 100% confident!

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      Let me show you what I mean through the use of hypothesis testing. What comes to mind when you hear a “not guilty” decision? Do you think there is any chance the person could have actually been guilty? A “not guilty” verdict could mean different things. For example, it could mean the jury was absolutely sure the person didn’t commit the crime (still we can never be 100%) or they were pretty sure the person didn’t commit the crime and had a reasonable doubt.

        If a jury were to convict an innocent person, this would be a Type I Error. Alternatively, by not convicting a guilty person, this would be Type II Error. Hypothesis testing reminds me of a quote from Benjamin Franklin,

        “It is better to let 100 guilty men go free than to convict one innocent man.”

          So, what can we do to overcome bias? Let’s look at a couple techniques… but first, let me ask you a simple question.

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          Knowing that we can never be 100% confident, could Einstein have been wrong? The answer is a profound yes. In fact, scientists behind a theory that the speed of light is variable, and not constant as Einstein suggested, have made a prediction they plan to test. [3] So, if one of the smartest people in history could have been wrong, this should demonstrate that anyone can be wrong.

          Always try to prove yourself wrong.

          What would happen if we always tried to prove ourselves wrong? Typically, we accept the hypothesis. If we try to look for evidence, the natural course for us is to seek out evidence confirming the hypothesis. Yet, by doing this, we ignore the fact that the evidence could provide us a different explanation. [4]

          “We are trying to prove ourselves wrong as quickly as possible, because only in that way can we find progress.” – Richard Feynman

          Use the rule of 3.

          Another powerful technique is the Rule of 3. Here you identify three potential causes for each issue. A study published in the Journal of Accounting Research revealed that auditors who develop three hypotheses are actually more efficient at identifying misstatements through the use of analytical procedures. [5]

          Let’s take a look at how Andy Snyder recommends using the Rule of 3 tactic. [6]

          • Train yourself to understand that what you first believe is not necessarily right or wrong. It is likely somewhere in the middle.
          • Create 3 distinct hypotheses as you work to discover the truth. By tracking 3 distinct ideas, it forces us to go beyond right or wrong. It forces us to explore the gray areas.
          • Strive to update your beliefs and reward yourself when you do. Snyder says this is the hallmark of a finely tuned mind.

          I also have another unique way to attack this issue. Let’s take a look.

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          Blinded by Numbers + Bias = Hypothesis

          Your hypothesis becomes the outcome.

          Here’s my Hypothesis for bias (using deductive reasoning)

          • Premise #1: People are easily convinced by statistics.
          • Premise #2: Statistics are difficult to understand, so people fail to question them.
          • Premise #3: People fail to question the experts.

          Conclusion: Therefore, people blindly defer to the experts.

          So, what can you do? Follow my winning formula Solution – Hypothesis = New Outcome.

          My Solution for overcoming bias:

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            • Step #1: Become aware of your bias.
            • Step #2: Remember your purpose or objective. Numbers are only indicators, so let them only serve as such and not your conclusion.
            • Step #3: Use a technique to develop your hypothesis (i.e. Prove Yourself Wrong or the Rule of 3)
            • Step #4: Use Argument Maps.

              Lastly, let’s end by looking at a famous parable – The Blind Men and an Elephant. This is the story of a group of blind men and their first encounter with an elephant. They learn how to conceptualize the elephant by touching it. They each feel different parts of the elephant’s body (each man only feels one part). They then describe the elephant to each other based on their partial experience. They argue as each description is in complete disagreement with one another. [7]

              The moral of the story is the following: We all have a tendency to project our own experiences; however, we project them as the entire truth. We should strive to consider that we might be partially correct, yet we only have a small chunk of the whole. We must become aware of the bigger picture, not just our chunk of information.

              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

              10 Hacks to Increase Your Brain IQ, Focus and Creativity 9 Game Changing Tips on How to Write Goals (and Reach Them!) Creative Brain Test: 10 Best Ways To Test Your Creative Intelligence How to Be a Maverick and Develop a Maverick Mindset Being Self Aware Is the Key to Success: How to Boost Self Awareness

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              Last Updated on December 7, 2018

              10 Steps For Success: Applying The Power Of Your Subconscious Mind

              10 Steps For Success: Applying The Power Of Your Subconscious Mind

              How big is the gap between you and your success?

              What is the difference between successful people and unsuccessful people?

              It is as simple as this: successful people think and talk about what they are creating, and unsuccessful people focus on and talk about what they’re lacking.

              So how do you bridge that gap between wanting success and having your success? Let’s make an important distinction. You see, there is a big difference between “Wanting” and “Having” something.

              Wanting: means lacking or absent. Deficient in some part, thing or aspect.

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              Having: means to possess, to hold, to get, to receive, to experience.

              You can have one OR the other, but not both at the same time with any particular object of your desire. You either have it or you don’t.

              When it comes to your subconscious, if you’re focusing on the “wanting”, i.e. the not having, guess what, you will build stronger neural networks in your brain around the “wanting.” However, through the power of your subconscious mind, you can focus on the “having” as if it has already happened. Research has shown that your brain doesn’t know the difference between what you’re visualizing inside your mind versus what is happening out there in your reality.

              This is a regular practice of elite athletes. They spend as much timing creating the internal mental imagery of their success playing out as they do actually physically practicing. This helps create both the neural pathways in their brain and the muscle memory to consistently deliver on that success.

              Here are 10 “brain hack” steps for success that you can take to create your version of a happy life. Make these steps a regular habit, and you will be astonished at the results.

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              Step 1: Decide exactly what you want to create and have

              This is usually the biggest problem that people have. They don’t know what they want and then they’re surprised when they don’t get it.

              Step 2: Write down your goal clearly in every technicolor detail

              A goal that is not written down is merely a wish. When you write it down in full detail, you signal to your subconscious mind that you really want to accomplish this particular goal.

              Step 3: Write your goal in simple, present tense words

              …that a three year old can understand on a three-by-five index card and carry it with you. Read it each morning after you awake and just before you go to sleep.

              Step 4: Backwards planning

              See your goal achieved and identify all the steps required that it took to bring it to life. Making a list of all these steps intensifies your desire and deepens your belief that the attainment of the goal is already happening.

              Step 5: Resolve to take at least one step every day from one of the items on your list

              Do something every day, even if it is just one baby step, that moves you toward your goal so you can maintain your momentum.

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              Step 6: Visualize your goal repeatedly

              See it in your mind’s eye as though it were already a reality. The more clear and vivid your mental picture of your goal, the faster it will come into your life.

              Step 7: Feel the feeling of success as if your goal were realized at this very moment

              Feel the emotion of happiness, satisfaction, and pleasure that you would have once you have achieved your goal. Visualize and feel this success for at least 20 seconds at a time.

              Step 8: “Fake it till you make it!”

              Confidently behave as if your subconscious mind was already bringing your goal into reality. Accept that you are moving toward your goal and it is moving toward you.

              Step 9: Relax your mind

              Take time to breathe, pray or mediate each day. Disengage the stress response and engage the relaxation response. A quiet state of mind allows your brain to access newly formed neural pathways.

              Step 10: Release your goal to your subconscious mind

              When you turn your goal over to the power of the universe and just get out of the way, you will always know the right actions to take at the right time.

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              Starting today, try tapping into the incredible power of your subconscious mind.Start with just one goal or idea, and practice it continually until you succeed in achieving that goal. Make it a game and have fun with it! The more lightly you hold it, the easier it will be to achieve. By doing so, you will move from the “positive thinking” of the hopeful person to the “positive knowing” of the totally successful person.

              Hit reply and let me know what you’re creating!

              To your success!

              Featured photo credit: use-your-brain-markgraf via mrg.bz

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