Cart Before Horse

If the goal is to make less mistakes, then we ought to first understand how we make mistakes. Because if we don’t understand how we make mistakes, we will continue making the same mistakes, even worse, not know until it’s too late.

Before you read another book, or read the Bible, or make another decision, or voice an opinion on social media — you ought to consider reading The Undoing Project. If you do not have time to read the entire book, I suggest reading Chapter 6 The Mind’s Rules and you will quickly realize the importance of reading the rest of the book.

The point remains that people do not follow the correct rule, when left to their own devices.
— The Undoing Project

Last I checked, The Bible explains why the above quote happens, but I’ll leave that for another post.

There are two errors when it comes to understanding how we make judgments and decisions. One is to believe we understand how our mind works. The other is to believe we understand, and to not feel a need to question what we believe. Considering we use our minds everyday, we ought to understand how the mind works. It should come before anything else. We need to be careful we are not putting the cart before the horse.

The Internet is the most insidious source of bullshit and misinformation in human history. The book captures nicely how we deceive ourselves without knowing through the mysteries of the mind.

Following is an example of something I took away from the book.

What happened to Jane was serious. Jane committed to a biblical worldview in which Jane’s interpretation of the Bible made sense, and that afternoon Jane saw the appeal of another worldview in which Jane’s interpretation of the Bible looked silly. Jane wonders how she could have made such a silly mistake.

Something can make perfect sense to Jane, at the same time, be completely wrong. Everything we do and believe can be traced back to one thing, how we think.

Two Choices

An example of why we need to question our intuition.

Imagine a Y in the road ahead. We have two choices, ( a ) go left, or ( b ) go right. One is a choice based on how we feel (gut instinct). The other is a choice knowing which way to go.

There will be two different destinations ahead depending on which way we turn (two different outcomes). One will take us to our destination, the other will take us to an unknown destination.

Do not trust anyone, including yourself, to tell you how much you should trust their judgment.
— Daniel Kahneman Ph.D., Psychology

The driver has GPS and knows going left is correct, but the passengers intuition says go right (not knowing the driver has GPS). The drivers decision was strategic from the start. Having a strategy helps make sure we hit the target. We need to choose our paths carefully. This is why we get lost and stop to ask for directions. We use GPS because we know our intuition or (gut feelings) are not always right.

It’s Not Red

We all know someone who enjoys arguing, but for the wrong reason. We could be holding a STOP sign and they’ll argue it’s not red. It can be a mind-blowing experience. We become frustrated and confused by why they fail to see things for what they are. Perhaps we need to be reminded of what the good book says. “Do not speak in the hearing of a fool, For he will despise the wisdom of your words.” Proverbs 23:9

The purpose of argument should not be victory, but progress.

It reminds me when Yuri Bezmenov said, “Exposure to true information does not matter any more. A person who is demoralized is unable to assess true information. The facts tell nothing to him. Even if I shower him with information, with authentic proof, with documents, with pictures, even if I take him by force […] he will refuse to believe it.”

The power of deception is fascinating!

Good Reads

How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading (A Touchstone book) Revised Edition
Mortimer J. Adler

Tales from Both Sides of the Brain: A Life in Neuroscience Reprint Edition
Michael S. Gazzaniga

Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge Reprint Edition
Edward O. Wilson

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking
Malcolm Gladwell

Work Rules!: Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead
Laszlo Bock

M. Mitchell Waldrop

So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love
Cal Newport, Ph.D.

Think Twice: Harnessing the Power of Counterintuition
Michael J. Mauboussin

Intuition: Its Powers and Perils (Yale Nota Bene)
David G. Myers

God’s Debris: A Thought Experiment
Scott Adams

Bright-Sided: How Positive Thinking Is Undermining America First Edition
Barbara Ehrenreich

Research Methods and Statistics: A Critical Thinking Approach 5th Edition
Sherri L. Jackson

Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration
Ed Catmull

Daniel C. Dennett

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference
Malcolm Gladwell

Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business
Charles Duhigg

Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future
Peter Thiel , Blake Masters

You Are Not So Smart: Why You Have Too Many Friends on Facebook, Why Your Memory Is Mostly Fiction, and 46 Other Ways You’re Deluding Yourself
David McRaney

The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds
Michael Lewis

Power of Deception

The greatest thing preventing the truth from revealing itself to you is, believing you already discovered it. We need to be carful not to hold so tightly to any belief in place of new evidence. Our beliefs should always be in flux because we are constantly learning; basically how science works. People often have difficulty changing their beliefs. We can witness the struggle by how people handle new evidence. Rather than accepting new evidence, they’ll often argue in favor of their false beliefs.

People tend to deceive themselves because they lack the necessary knowledge or discipline required to discover the truth. It could be the Bible, a product, a conspiracy theory, whatever. No one who is deceived believes they are deceived and no one is exempt from being deceived. Deception is in full-force all of the time. It’s everyone’s problem.

The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool.
— Richard Feynman

Surely you’ve heard, “the devil is in the details.” It simply means the details of a matter are its most problematic aspect. Once we understand the details, only then we discover truth. Few people bother searching for the truth. Information today is too readily available and easily acquired without questioning it. People dislike discovering when they are wrong because discovering the truth requires facing a reality of deception.

When the mind of a person under strong deception is called into question, they often turn to an attitude of resistance, name calling, and sometimes anger. It becomes difficult acknowledging they have been deceived, either by their own doing, or by something learned elsewhere. The truth about their situation becomes that much more painful. It should not be about being right or wrong, it should be about discovering and knowing the truth.

Can I Be Wrong

One of the things I find most interesting about what I do is discovering the insignificance in what others do or teach. It’s not an intentional endeavor, rather the result of a natural process. Elon Musk also touched on this area in an interview with Khan Academy.

You can sit through countless seminars, read books, studies and academic papers all you want, but if what you’re consuming doesn’t matter, you’re wasting your time. We need to be able to trace back to the root of things to get a clearer picture and better understanding of what is important, what is not, and where our focus should be.

People act on their priorities. Observe closely.
Paul Carrick Brunson

We tend to go through a process in our mind called confirmation bias where we search for things that support what we believe rather than searching for things to disprove what we believe. If all we ever do is search for things to support our beliefs, we ignore all of the things to validate their significance. We ignore the inconvenient truth. It is a type of cognitive bias and a systematic error of inductive reasoning.

By definition, its wrong.

We need to be able to look at our presuppositions then probe our presuppositions for coherence. Once we impose a systematic treatment of our beliefs with a specific eye, we take-away a different parsing of how we look at things. There is nothing so useless as wasting time on meaningless things.


Insightful thinking

I was reading an article on Psychology Today about insightful thinking and came across this…

I focus on what the author did not say.

Focusing on what wasn’t said helps us stimulate the mind to seek other possibilities. In my case, I am looking for more and more causes and sources behind the details of something that apply to what I’m working on. One example was this past election. During the debates, I focused on what wasn’t being said (reading between the lines) so-to-speak rather than focusing on meaningless things.


Changing Your Mind

Let me paraphrase a world-renowned Stanford University psychologist in the fields of personality, social psychology, and developmental psychology.

Books with titles such as Seven Secrets of Successful People often contain disconnected pointers such as “Take more risks” or “Think Positive”, “Believe in yourself”, “Work Smarter” and just about every other successpiration you’ll see online, but its never clear how these things connect, not to mention, how to become that way.

So, you may feel inspired for a hot minute then you’re right back to your normal-self all-the-while successful people still hold their secrets.

Whatever it is that you want to call success, it begins with changing your mind.

Success is a state of mind, not an adjective. The ability to change your mind is probably one of the best life skills to develop. We should never hold any position so closely that we aren’t willing to change it.