* This is part two of 059 We believe what we want to believe (1/2).
Our biased tendency of having rigidly fixed beliefs of those which we want to be true are present in all of us due to human error or “just nature things” if you would like to call them that. But understanding the root cause behind the cognitive biases of humans is difficult. It’s hard enough to admit that we’re wrong, and even more so to find out why we went wrong. Yet constant psychological research has allowed us to know more about us, humans, and our complicated ways of thinking now more than ever before. We’re starting to understand and learn more about us. Which I think is more important than anything else and it would be very worthwhile to start teaching simple human psychology to a greater extent in schools from very early on. Because if a child cannot understand oneself first, how is the child even supposed to grow up and understand all these other complex things of the world?
To cut the fat and arrive at the main point of this article then, research has allowed us to see and grasp things about human psychology well.
So; why do we believe what we want to believe?
Here’s the psychological answer:
There’s stuff constantly happening in the brain. Apart from the non-voluntary things, there’s a large amount of activity going on that’s voluntary or even subconsciously conscious (basically, thinking about things). Even right now, while reading this article your mind may well be somewhere else in ten other clouds, which accounts for millions and millions of neurons and much more nervous activity. All this leads to information overload sometimes. And … this is the important part … the brain wants to keep things as simple as possible. So much thinking and nerve activity isn’t good for the brain (given that the human brain is the most powerfully intelligent on Earth and great at it’s job). Therefore, this process of simplifying the information in the brain takes place. This simplifying leads to mental shortcuts of information. And which leads to our biases. Inclinations and biases are caused by our brain trying to simplify information and decision making.
So we believe what we want to believe and only conform to our existing beliefs, disregarding the evidence that does not conform because it’s harder for the brains already wired thinking to allow more information, often the exact contrast of the information which we believed was true. Hence our rejection of other beliefs.
As I said in the first part of this article, the best way to act toward removing such biases that are taking control of our lives is awareness. Keep in mind the next time you hold a strong belief on something. And constantly be thinking about your existing beliefs and evaluating and re-evaluating them. Making certain that your values aren’t influenced by what you want but by the way the world really works. Awareness will lead to intelligence. Never the other way around.
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