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Psychology Ep.02: Cognitive bias

Psychology: Seeing Through The Bullshit.

 

*some paragraphs in this article are inspired from Crash Course & School of Life on Youtube.

Part two of the psychology series, I wasn’t really expecting all this amazing feedback on the previous part of this series as the topic might seem a bit far from what I usually talk about here, glad you guys liked it.

My aim from this whole series isn’t to make you memorize terms or remember random names, neither it is to peak your interest to major in psychology – which is a fairly bad idea, unless you want to go into Psychiatry or Industrial-Organizational Psychology , you will hardly make any money. My aim is to show YOU how to create your own sound judgments about the world and how to better interact with it.

Part one of the psychology series was a standard intro to psychology, the part one will serve as the ground for this and the upcoming episodes of this series, so even though you will still understand the message of this article without reading the former one, I strongly recommend that you go read it first then come back to here.

In this article, I will try to help you better see through the bullshit of this world, whether was it your own bullshit or other people’s bullshit.

First, I am going to talk about how your mind is not that trustworthy, and how it is always tricking you into seeing a skewed version of reality.

In the last article, I was talking about how it’s important to realize that your intuition isn’t always right. In fact, sometimes it is exactly wrong and we tend to grossly underestimate the dangers of false intuition. If you have an idea about a person and their behavior that turns out to be right, that reinforces your trust in your intuition. Like if one of your friends said that Cristiano Ronaldo will score this free kick and he does, he will turn around and say “I FUCKING TOLD YOU SO!“. But if he didn’t score that free kick, your friend probably won’t even think about it ever again.

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The official terminology for this phenomenon is the ‘Hindsight Bias‘ or the “I-Knew-It-All-Along” phenomenon. This doesn’t mean common sense is wrong, it just means that our intuitive sense always describes what has happened rather than what will happen.  

 


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Another reason you can’t blindly trust your intuition is your natural tendency toward overconfidence. Sometimes, you just really, really feel like you’re right about people when actually you’re really, really wrong. Our brains tend to overlook our shortcomings and our wrong doings while focusing on other people shortcomings/bad behavior and then judge them accordingly. That is partly the fault of your intuition and your PERCEPTION. 

Our perception and how we are seeing things at the moment could also be false and that is because our brains do most of the work and not our eyes.

Our perception, or how we order the information we receive through our eyes, is heavily influenced, biased even, by our expectations, experiences, moods, and even cultural norms. We can be pretty good at fooling ourselves.

We perceive the world around us through the five senses, but these senses mean so little without our brain’s ability to organize and translate that raw data into meaningful information. Without perception, you will only see and sense random things devoid of any meaning.

Our perception is the process that allows us to make meaning out of our senses and experience the world around us. It’s what makes life understandable. But also, it means that sometimes, what you see is not actually what is there.

Your eyes can only provide raw data, the color, the depth, the shades and so on, It’s important data, but it isn’t actually what we see. What we see is the making of the mind, not the eye.

From this visual illusion on the left, we see a triangle that in fact, is not there. The triangle is only suggested because of the way the ‘Pac-Man’ shapes are positioned; there appears to be a light-grey triangle on top of three black circles.

Recent theories assume that the brain does not just process/filter external information, but actively interprets it. In the example described above, the brain decides it is more likely that a triangle would be on top of black circles than that three circles positioned in that way.

After all, when we look around, we see triangles and circles more often than Pac-Man shapes.

The unexpected requires more processing.

On the right side of the optical illusion above there is a scan of the brain activity of a subject looking at the optical illusion.

When the Pac-Man shapes do not form a triangle, more brain activity is required. In the above image on the right, we see that the three Pac-Man shapes ‘underneath’ the triangle cause little brain activity (colored blue), but the separate Pac-Man on the right causes more activity (colored red). This also fits in with the theory that perception is a question of interpretation: if something is easy to explain, less brain activity is needed to process that information, compared to when something is unexpected or difficult to account for.

I want you to really focus on the fact that The unexpected requires more processing because most of the bullshit you ‘decide’ to believe comes from this little fact.

You only process what you expect, and dismiss anything that contradicts what you believe in.

That doesn’t only hold truth for shapes, colors, and illusions, it is also applicable on our own beliefs and what we think is true.

Your brain acts like a detective, It responds to cues in the environment and make its best guess about how they fit together.

To take this information and apply it to your reality, consider this example.

A lot of you guys email me about your problems and how they make you unattractive in the eyes of women. Some of you would say that they are short and girls only like tall, puff and rich guys. Now I know that some of you actually believe that. You think that you have seen enough examples in your lives to why this is true, but the matter of the fact that what they “saw” is what they believed in because that’s how your brain works as I explained above.

These guys only see the tall rich dude and think to themselves “SEE I AM RIGHT, THAT’S THE ONLY THING WOMEN WANT”

But when they see a short poor dude with a hot girl, that requires a lot of processing from their brain, and as we know for a fact that we are a species that adores comfort, their brain comes up with a stupid and silly reason for what they are seeing.

They dismiss that observation and just rationalize it with “Oh she is only using him” “he is her gay friend” “he is paying her” etc, that way they save themselves all the processing and the challenge to their perception and go on living in their own delusion.

Your brain is always hallucinating, even without any drugs.

Really.

Take this for example,

You only have high-resolution vision in the very center of your eye—about 0.1 percent of your entire visual field. You are legally blind to objects more than a finger width or two from the center of your vision. But it doesn’t feel that way. Instead, you perceive your entire visual field as a high-resolution and perfectly formed image that is always in focus: a load of pure baloney provided compliments of your brain. In fact, very near the part of your retina where your photoreceptor density is highest lies a region devoid of sensory cells, in which you are completely blind. It is fascinating and counterintuitive.

In short, you only actually see a small part of your field of vision, and everything else you somehow ‘hallucinate’ it 🙂

If your brain does all these things that you are completely unaware of, although it is happening literally right in front of you, then how could you be so sure of how you think the world is running?

It is a fact the world will seem to work the way you assume it to work because that is what your brain will allow you to see.

Your perception isn’t just about funky optical illusions, it’s about how you understand the world and your place in it, both physically and psychologically. Your sensory organs pull in the world’s raw data, which is disassembled into little bits of information and then reassembled in your brain to form your own model of the world. It’s like your senses are just collecting a bunch of Legos and your brain can build and rebuild whatever it likes to ‘perceives’: a party, your crush, fame, money, your limiting beliefs, injustice, victimhood, etc.

In other words, your brain constructs your perceptions.

The least you can is to make sure it will not constructing bullshit.

So far most of what I discussed is more of biological facts than it is psychological facts.

Now let us talk about pure psychological theories that will help you better see through your own bullshit along with the bullshit of the world around you.

There are zillions of ways your mind can trick you and lead you to poor judgments, I will not be able to cover all of them, I will cover the most important and common ones that are really beneficial to you.

70f2aee6c0eb72fc94801ac93d0adb00Let us start with a phenomenon called the Availability heuristic.

An availability heuristic is a mental shortcut that relies on immediate examples that come to mind. When you are trying to make a decision, a number of related events or situations might immediately spring to the forefront of your thoughts. As a result, you might judge that those events are more frequent and possible than others. You give greater confidence to this information and tend to overestimate the probability and likelihood of similar things happening in the future.

Everyone is freaking out about terrorism because it is recent news, it is something we see and recognize vividly from the media, it is a recent STORY that is very easily brought to mind. The US government spends 25 times more money fighting terrorism than fighting something more terrifying and harmful, Cancer.

Cancer kills 2000X more people than terrorism, but Cancer is just viewed in the term of numbers and statistics, it is boring and it is not a STORY we can recall, and that is why we are more afraid of dying from a terrorist attack rather than cancer, even though the probability is insanely different.


The Endowment Effect.

In psychology and behavioral economics, the endowment effect (related to the mere ownership effect in social psychology) is the hypothesis that people ascribe more value to things merely because they own them.

“ Have you ever noticed that their stuff is shit and your shit is stuff? ”
— George Carlin, A Place for My Stuff

This is typically illustrated in two ways. In a valuation paradigm, people will tend to pay more to retain something they own than to obtain something they do not own—even when there is no cause for attachment.

In one experiment, researchers brought to groups of people, gave one group a mug and told them that it is theirs to own, while they did not give the other group anything, then they asked the first group how much money they want to give up and sell the mug, and asked the second group how much they are willing to pay to get the mug, the results came back as that the group that already owned the mug demanded almost twice the price than the price the other group is willing to pay, and no matter how they mixed the groups, the results always came back that the group that owned the mug valued it way more than the group that did not own it.

The other way outside of the economic side of this effect, if we want to see how the endowment effect influences us in ways other than material possessions, think of how you just do not understand how someone believes in a certain thing or does a certain thing, it is the endowment effect at play, he values it because of the sense of ownership and attachment to that idea, and chances are, someone looks at you and can’t understand how you believe in the things you believe in or do the things you do.

We value things highly just because they’re ours.



Confirmation bias

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We tend to search for, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms one’s preexisting beliefs or hypotheses, while giving disproportionately less consideration to alternative possibilities.

I have talked many times about the confirmation bias, it is the main reason we think of good-looking people as also good, funny, rich, etc.

Confirmation bias is also the reason why first impressions are so damn important, the thing is, your brain build up an initial image of someone from their first impression, or even worse, their race, skin color, and gender, and then tries to confirm the image he created about that person, and it will go to insane lengths to confirm it.

So it is important to recognize that we do it to others and others will do it to us.

You can manipulate the confirmation bias to your own in a very nasty and unethical way, many famous people do that.

If you are able to understand what our society values the most, associate yourself with these values and then construct a way to through elements that will confirm these values in you, you will be very rich, very successful and get an incredible sex life, no other tricks or techniques needed.


Misinformation effect

Human memory is not as good as people like to think. There are times when you are 100% confident in your memory of something and the reality is, your memory is wrong. This is often seen in eyewitness testimony situations.

How is it that 10 people witness a crime and when asked, there are 10 different versions of the crime? According to the misinformation effect, when we witness an event and then get some incorrect information about that event, we incorporate that incorrect information (misinformation) into our memory of the event. The result in an altered memory of the event. You may not want to believe this one, but it’s true and we are all susceptible to it.

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This also applies to how we remember our past, you will always find that people will either recall their past as very insanely great, or very insanely shitty, and it will all be dependant on the current information they have.

For example when you are talking with a friend about picking up girls, and he is not that good with it, he will say that back in his day he was a Cassanova and so on, there is a chance that he is lying, yet if he is not a liar, chances are that he is recalling it differently due to the misinformation effect.


These are some of the ways our brain alter and skew our view and perception of reality, having these in mind will help you filter out all the bullshit in your life.

I will write a future article that will also explain how to see through the bullshit in our life, but it will not be based on psychological findings rather it will be just my own observations.

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* not really relted to the topic, nevertheless it is funny.

How do you safely come up with your own conclusions about reality knowing that you have all these things fucking with your perception?

Well, there are many options, but for the sake of this article, let us focus on the scientific method and how it is used in the psychological research.

It is very important to understand how psychologists do come up with the conclusions and findings that we take for granted in order to be able to see through them when they contain bullshit. 

Yea, they throw a lot of false bullshit towards us that we ignorantly swallow. 

It is not really the fault of the psychologists doing the research, but rather the fault of the mainstream magazine that picked up that study and misinterpreted it by changing some small simple words that ended up giving the study a new meaning. 

For example, the myth that says we only use 10% of our brains, I hope you recognize that it is a myth by now.  

Yes, even though Morgan Freeman himself said it, it is definitely a myth.  

 How did the 10% myth get started? One clue leads back about a century to psychologist William James, who once wrote that he doubted that average persons achieve more than about 10% of their intellectual potential. Although James talked in terms of underdeveloped potential, a slew of positive thinking gurus transformed “10% of our capacity” into “10% of our brain.”5 In addition, in calling a huge percentage of the human brain “silent cortex,” early investigators may have fostered the mistaken impression that what scientists now call “association cortex” — which is vitally important for language and abstract thinking — had no function. In a similar vein, early researchers’ admissions that they didn’t know what 90% of the brain did probably fueled the myth that it does nothing. Finally, although one frequently hears claims that Albert Einstein once explained his own brilliance by reference to 10% myth, there’s no evidence that he ever uttered such a statement. 


Let us start talking about psychological research and the scientific method, 

In most ways psychological research is no different than any other scientific discipline, like step one is always figuring out how to ask general questions about your subject and turn them into measurable, testable premises.

You start with a question and a theory. A theory is what explains and organizes lots of different observations, and predicts outcomes.

When you come up with a testable prediction, that’s your hypothesis.

Let us set a hypothesis just to better explain what I am saying.

Let us hypothesize that ‘Girls Only Like Rich Guys’, now the language we used is not really that good, to make it better , we need to define exactly what we mean by “Girls only like rich guys” in our Golddiggers hypothesis, that will allow other researchers to replicate the experiment.

And replication is key. You can watch a person exhibit a certain behavior once, and it won’t prove very much, but if you keep getting consistent results, even as you change subjects or situations, you’re probably on to something.

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This is a problem with one popular type of psychological research: Case studies, which are in-depth investigations of a single person, group, event or community. Typically, data are gathered from a variety of sources using several different methods (e.g. observations & interviews). The research may also continue for an extended period of time, so processes and developments can be studied as they happen.

Case studies can sometimes be misleading, because by their nature, they can’t be replicated, so they run the risk of over-generalizing. Still, they’re good at showing us what can happen, and might help us frame questions for more extensive and generalizable studies. They’re also often memorable and a great story telling device that psychologists use to observe and describe behavior. Like, back to our golddiggers hypothesis, say Christine Had a douchebag of an ex-boyfriend who was rich and she broke up with him and now she promised herself not to date rich guys anymore – which is also wrong on her part – she could be a debunk for the hypothesis. But you would still have to look at lots of other cases to determine that conclusively.  

The case study method often involves simply observing what happens to a single participant or group of individuals (such as a school class or a specific social group), i.e. the idiographic approach. Case studies allow a researcher to investigate a topic in far more detail than might be possible if they were trying to deal with a large number of research participants (nomothetic approach) with the aim of ‘averaging’.

The case study is not itself a research method, but researchers select methods of data collection and analysis that will generate material suitable for case studies. Amongst the sources of data the psychologist is likely to turn to when carrying out a case study are observations of a person’s daily routine, unstructured interviews with the participant herself (and with people who know her), diaries, personal notes (e.g. letters, photographs, notes) or official document (e.g. case notes, clinical notes, appraisal reports). Most of this information is likely to be qualitative (i.e. verbal description rather than measurement) but the psychologist might collect numerical data as well.

Another popular method of psychological research is naturalistic observation, where researchers simply watch behavior in a natural environment, whether that’s chimps poking ant-hills in the jungle, kids clowning in a classroom or drunk dudes yelling at football games. The idea is to let the subjects just do their thing without trying to manipulate or control the situation. So yeah, basically just spying on people. Like case studies, naturalistic observations are great at describing behavior, but they’re very limited in explaining it.

Psychologists can also collect behavioral data using surveys, A survey is a data collection tool used to gather information about individuals. Surveys are commonly used in psychology research to collect self-report data from study participants. A survey may focus on factual information about individuals, or it might aim to obtain the opinions of the survey takers. Surveys are one of the most commonly used research tools and can be utilized to collect data and describe naturally occurring phenomena that exist in the real-world.

Now surveys are used way more often than they should IN MY OPINION, and they can lead to false conclusions, like the findings of the average penis size, researchers found a dramatic difference between the data collected in survey vs the data collected by actually measuring penises – just so you know how much people would do in the name of science. 

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So once you’ve described behavior with surveys, case studies, or naturalistic observation you can start making sense out of it, and even predict future behavior. One way to do that is to look at one trait or behavior is related to another, or how they correlate.

Let’s take another example, imagine I ate some weird mushrooms I found in a bag while at a party in Amsterdam. Suddenly, I start seeing things, pink Elephants flying and Eagles with laser beam eyes.

From here we could deduce that eating unknown drugs predicts hallucination, that’s a correlation. But correlation is not causation.

Yes, it makes sense that eating questionable drugs would cause hallucinations, but it’s possible that I was already on the verge of a psychotic episode, or there could be an entirely different factor involved, like maybe I haven’t slept in 72 hours, or the shitty Skrillex music that the DJ played made me lose my mind and one of those factors caused my hallucinations. It’s tempting to draw conclusions from correlations but it’s super-important to remember that correlations predict the possibility of cause-and-effect relationships, they cannot prove them.

It’s tempting to draw conclusions from correlations but it’s super-important to remember that correlations predict the possibility of cause-and-effect relationships, they cannot prove them.

I will leave discussing Correlation and causation in-depth for another article. 


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We’ve talked about how to describe behavior without manipulating it and how to make connections and predictions from those findings. But that can only take you so far, to really get to the bottom of cause-and-effect behaviors, you’re gonna have to start experimenting. Experiments allow investigators to isolate different effects by manipulating an independent variable, and keeping all other variables constant, or as constant as you can. This means that they need at least two groups: the experimental group, which is gonna get messed with, and the control group, which is not gonna get messed with.

Just as surveys use random samples, experimental researchers need to randomly assign participants to each group to minimize potential confounding variables, or outside factors that may skew the results. You don’t want all grumpy teenagers in one group and all wealthy Japanese surfers in the other, variety within the group is key.

Now sometimes one or both groups are not informed about what’s actually being tested. For example, researchers can test how substances affect people by comparing their effects to placebos, or inert substances. And often, the researchers themselves don’t know which group is experimental and which is control, so they don’t unintentionally influence the results through their own behavior, in which case it’s called, you guessed it, a double-blind procedure.

 

That is how the psychologists ‘mostly’ do it. 

Unfortunately, it takes a lot of time to follow sich methodology every time you have a question. 

So what can you do to come up with a more real and bias free view points on life? 

From a psychological point, the only way I do this is by observation and “Interviews”, and I have put Interviews by quotation because my interviews are nothing but friendly questions. 

Keep a close focus on your own bullshit when you are observing a situation, make sure you are not dismissing a case completely or partially by a make judgment made by your brain. When you reach a complicated case, then interview, approach and ask questions.

How you ask the questions have a huge influence on the answer so make sure to keep your questions without any terms that would favor one answer over the other. Pay close attention to whomever you are asking, see through their bullshit, assess how much social pressure are they under atm? pay attention to how does that person sees you? Are he/she trying to impress you with the answer? avoid straightforward and obvious/autopilot questions, they lead to nowhere. 

It is really pretty complicated to get a clear answer to ever speculation you have in your mind, I know that. 

And I need you to know and understand how complicated it is to know  people, to know people on a deep level. 

I just want you to know that the assumptions you have about the world are filled with bullshit, yours, mine and everyone, especially our assumptions about people and the good vs evil, we tend to suck at those. 

Understand that most of these assumptions are holding you back greatly in life, so you have to invalidate them. 

You have to invalidate them even without sufficient evidence. 

I will drift outside of the scientific psychological script into a motivational and reasonable lesson I want you to take out of this, so If you are here strictly for the psychological lesson, the lesson is over you can stop reading. 


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The most important lesson I want you to take out from this whole article is this, 

Take sometime alone and ask yourself about the things that are holding you back in life, especially when it comes to meeting men/women. KNOW FOR A FACT THAT THERE IS A GOOD CHANCE THAT THESE ASSUMPTIONS RE WRONG. And all this holding you back from meeting women/men is all in your head. 

To finish this article here is the last way I decide if this assumption is right or wrong, 

How will it serve me either way and how will it damage the community and the people around me. 

Let us consider the example of whether women like short men or not, you guys are so tight up on the idea of your height, your looks, your penis size and how much money you have that is why I keep on using them as examples. 

Now, I know for a fact with a 90% chance of it to be right and accurate, that no, women do not care about your height. But I know it will be so damn hard to get this into your head. 

Ask yourself this, what would be the outcome if I believe that the only thing women care about then what will happen? 

You will just lock yourself in a room for the rest of your life angry at the gods for making you this way, life on your life with a 0.01% chance of meeting women? 

Or you take the other possibility? the possibility that maybe, just a slight maybe, women do not give a fuck that much about that, what will happen then? 

You might be wrong, but you won’t lose a thing, and in fact, you will increase your chances of meeting someone awesome insanely, along with learning more about the world and the art of interacting with people. 

Seems like a fair bet to take, what about you? 

I know that a good percentage of my readers think that I either pay money for the girls i get with or I just attract them with my looks or money or fame or etc. 

I realize that, and I don’t want to list all the reasons why this is a very wrong and stupid assumption, but I just want to ask you this, give me the benefit of the doubt. 

Maybe, just maybe John Deus is what he is claiming to be, maybe he is just another guy just like me with nothing special, maybe, just maybe I can do the things he does, maybe I can have a fun lifestyle too, maybe life isn’t as horrible as I think it is or as against me as I think, maybe I just decided to believe that just to protect what is left of my ego. 

What would happen then? 

I realize the advantages I have or to put it in the new trendy way, “My Privilege”

– fucking shoot me –


My fame and money and etc. Damn, my current fat ass get called “Hot and Hansome” all the time, but believe me, most of my interactions go far without me revealing anything about me, it is just me and what I want, without selling points, without bragging. 

So what would happen If I was wrong, what if I make you believe in a wrong? 

Would you get made fun of for believing in yourself despite your shortcomings? 

NO!, FUCKING YES YOU WILL. 

They will ‘try to’ shame you for daring to leave your place and desire to be something more, they need you there in that place, leaving it and having a chance of being something more than they are will keep them up at night.Some people will try to shame you and make fun of you, especially when you fail. 

But you should know that you did something they wish they can ever do, you had bigger balls than they could ever dream of. 

I am not a really humble guy, a lot of people complain about my “ego” and how big it is. I never pride myself of my accomplishment, I realize that some people would think of it as stupid, shallow, douchy, etc. Especially the getting with lots of women thingy. 

I pride myself of my journey, of what I willing to do, of what I am willing to handle to get to what I want. 

Reach a point where when someone tries to shame you for talking to a girl and falling miserably, you just look at them knowing that they might be all that you are not, but they could never put the effort you do. 

As Will Smith said once 

The only thing that I see that is distinctly different about me is I’m not afraid to die on a treadmill. I will not be out-worked, period. You might have more talent than me, you might be smarter than me, you might be sexier than me, you might be all of those things you got it on me in nine categories. But if we get on the treadmill together, there’s two things: You’re getting off first, or I’m going to die. It’s really that simple.

Stop getting all caught up on results and take pride in your journey, fall in love with it, make it define you. 

Go out there detached of whether the fuck you got her or not, go back with a big smile knowing that you want it and went for it. Know that the guy who is trying to shame you has once, or even many times, looked at a girl from afar, imagining how much his life will be better with her, then looked back to his drink and took a sip knowing that he doesn’t have the balls to go there and make it happen, do not let that happen to you. 

At least have a fewer “What If” in your life, get that question answered whenever it pops up. 

-Within the limit of reason and common sense, I can’t believe I had to say that… _ 

Regards,

John Deus

 

6 Comments

  1. Danatralian Danatralian

    Definitely worth the wait! Thanks so much for this!

  2. Anon Anon

    Last paragraph deserve a article on it’s own in my opinion
    Nevertheless amazing work Sir Deus

  3. Anon Anon

    Great read thank you so much john!

  4. Rob Rob

    Fuck. My reality just got kicked in the head

    Hard to read, imo, but damn that shit you wrote is lovely.

  5. Awesome, worth reading, never read something like this, bullshits are the best part!!!!! Keep up the good work!!!!

  6. Stanislav Stanislav

    Great post as always! Thank you for opening my mind for better things.

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