No One Fools Us Like Us
When it comes to deciding, we are often our own worst enemies.
Awareness brings us little protection. The most rigorous process falls apart when urgency or emotion presents itself. Intuition becomes the boss.
Confirmation bias finds itself rewarded too.
Sometimes that’s a good thing — and sometimes it isn’t.
We all want certainty in our lives, but few things in life are certain. Deep down we know this. Uncertainty reigns supreme and our minds loathe this fact.
And it’s here we fool ourselves.
It doesn’t happen straight away. But decisions rarely afford us the time to think and consider all the implications. Our fear and loathing of uncertainty attract us to opinions which appear certain. And of course, our biases swell in authority to deliver more certainty.
The urge to act is hard to deny.
In the past, this was with good reason.
But now, life doesn’t come with such risks. But still, we allow ourselves to decide with the speed a life-saving event would need. The fallacy of what is truly urgent gets us all.
Richard Feynman knew it.
His approach led to the sharpest of statements: “You must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool.”
Every belief, every opinion, and every bias — has the capacity to fool us.
Marvin Minsky said that when Feynman faced a problem, he would go back to being like a child. Ignoring others and building his understanding from the ground up.
Maybe we need to all ask ourselves: “What steps am I taking to not fool myself?”