Module: Fallacies and biases
Quote of the page
I don’t know what I may seem to the world, but as to myself, I seem only to have been like a boy playing on the sea-shore and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.
- Isaac Newton
Please answer this question first before proceeding
Namibia is a country in Africa. Do you know how big is Namibia's population? Is it above or below 100 million? Before you continue any further, write down your estimate of the population.
In this tutorial we will discuss cognitive biases. These are certain pervasive thinking habits which are likely to threaten objectivity or to lead to errors in reasoning. They are, however, often very common and difficult to get rid of them. Psychologists are interested in cognitive biases because they might tell us about human nature and how our brain is organised. Cognitive biases are obviously also relevant to many other areas, such as economics, management, advertising, education, and politics.
Back to the question about Namibia. Here is the answer:
Notice that a cognitive bias need not be a fallacy. The anchoring phenomenon just discussed does not seem to be a case where we have made an erroneous deduction. It is just that somehow our attempt to make a guess has been unconsciously influenced.
Cognitive biases are certain pervasive thinking habits which are likely to lead to errors in reasoning, but which seem to be a very common part of human psychology. The study of cognitive biases is a very important part of cognitive science and psychology, and relevant to many other areas, such as economics, management and education.
Many cognitive biases are related to judgments and reasoning about probability and statistics. Here are some examples:
Here is a YouTube video about cognitive biases. There are many others in the channel: