in Cognitive Wisdom, Thought Catalog

Focusing illusion

Nothing in life is as important as we think it is.

It’s our preoccupation with selective thoughts that makes it important especially when we are thinking about it.

The narrower we choose to focus on a particular aspect of our life, the greater it’s apparent influence.

Knowledge illusion

We think we understand most of the things reasonably well until we are forced to explain them. Only then we realize gaps in our own knowledge.

Unfortunately, we are not the independent thinkers we’d like to imagine we are. Instead of reading books on the topic or consulting experts, there is a tendency on our part to adopt the opinions of our peers. We treat our opinions like our clothes, preferring to wear whatever’s in fashion among our peers.

Introspection illusion

The mistaken belief that we can learn what we truly desire through sheer intellectual contemplation.

Introspection is nothing but a job interview with yourself —— highly unreliable.

What you should be exploring is your past. What are the recurring themes in your life? Examine the evidence, not your subsequent interpretation of it.

Illusion of Pundits

Our tendency to construct and believe coherent narratives of the past makes it difficult for us to accept the limits of our forecasting ability.

The illusion that we understand the past fosters overconfidence in our ability to predict the future.

Everything makes sense in hindsight, a fact exploited every evening by financial pundits as they offer convincing accounts of the day’s events.

Illusion of control

We focus on what we know and neglect what we don’t know, which makes us overly confident in our beliefs.

Inadequate appreciation of the uncertainty of the environment inevitably leads us to take risks they should avoid.

Although unbiased appreciation of uncertainty is a cornerstone of rationality, extreme uncertainty is paralyzing under dangerous circumstances.

The admission that one is merely guessing is especially unacceptable when the stakes are high. Acting on pretended knowledge is often the preferred solution.

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  1. Brilliant Article. We all pass through these illusions in our daily lives. But what if someone despite knowing some subject quite in depth feels that he doesn’t know much….!

    • Let me try to address this through the concept in psychology known as the Dunning Kruger effect.
      It is a cognitive bias wherein people of low ability suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly assessing their cognitive ability as greater than it is. And conversely, people with some experts consider themselves inadequate.
      Even Socrates knew this very well when he said, ”I know one thing that I know nothing.”