Cognitive Bias

Sunday, December 15, 2019
First Aired:
Sunday, July 16, 2017

What Is It

Aristotle thought that rationality was the faculty that distinguished humans from other animals. However, psychological research shows that our judgments are plagued by systematic, irrational, unconscious errors known as ‘cognitive biases.’ In light of this research, can we really be confident in the superiority of human rationality? How much should we trust our own judgments when we are aware of our susceptibility to bias and error? And does our awareness of these biases obligate us to counter them? Debra and Ken shed their biases with Brian Nosek from the University of Virginia, co-Founder and Executive Director of the Center for Open Science.

Part of a six-part series onIntellectual Humility.

Listening Notes


Ken and Debra welcome Brian Nosek, co-founder and Executive Director of the Center for Open Science, to the show. Nosek offers that cognitive biases often arise in scientific research. For example, some scientists may hope to achieve results that are better suited for publication than achieve results that are mundane or ordinary. He goes on to argue that cognitive biases are part of our design: they are not defects of human evolution but have evolutionary value. According to him, cognitive biases are rooted in ordinary operations of the mind and are meant to make the world easier for us to function in.虽然,例如,确认偏误可能会导致政治领域的两极分化,但它也使我们能够一遍又一遍地挑选相同的健康食品。

Brian further explains that cognitive bias is not gendered. Debra cautions against using evolutionary arguments to explain difference in gender today. This, in turn, leads Brian to name a new bias—the "narrative bias." This brings them back to the idea that awareness of these biases may be necessary but is not sufficient to dispel them completely. Ken offers that perhaps one needs a degree of intellectual humility to help protect against such bias. Ultimately, Brian thinks that the biggest danger of cognitive bias is overconfidence and that perception is filled with cognitive bias.

  • Roving Philosophical Reporter(寻找时间到6:40):Holly McDede采访了杜兰大学教授Daniel Mochon,关于诸如宜家效应、禀赋效应、确认偏差、内隐自我偏差和韵律作为原因效应等偏见。
  • Sixty-Second Philosopher(寻求46:39):伊恩·肖尔斯(Ian Shoales)研究了对前总统巴拉克·奥巴马(Barack Obama)和民主党当选总统希拉里·克林顿(hillary Clinton)的辱骂,以及这种辱骂是如何起到启发作用的。



Harold G. Neuman's picture

Harold G. Neuman

Friday, July 28, 2017 -- 9:57 AM

Ok. We have cognitive biases.

Ok. We have cognitive biases. That makes us irrational and Aristotle was wrong? Hmmmm. Well, seems to me that if we did NOT have cognitive biases, we would still be irrational beings, based on the notion that cognitive bias is the outcome of a rational psyche and sentience? Let's take the matter one step further into absurdity: animals are irrational because they do not possess sentience and/or consciousness. What would it mean if we could somehow measure animal behavior(s) in such a way as to show, at least superficially, that they actually are rational when compared to our cognitively biased selves? Perhaps OUTCOME, as used above is too strong a word. I'm just thinking out loud. So, what if there were a way for us to erase our cognitive biases? Would we? Could we? All right, you can't compare animal behavior to human behavior. I get that. But where, when and why does cognitive bias emerge? Socialization and acculturation appear to be likely precursors. We TEACH cognitive bias, don't we? Well, if that were true, we certainly would not be very rational. And, on the basis of that argument, I guess we are not... (I was wearing my sociologist's cap for this one.)

Tim Smith's picture

Tim Smith

Friday, December 13, 2019 -- 11:30 PM

These are good thoughts. I

These are good thoughts. I would answer them but your thought continues below and gifted a year plus worth more thinking. Let's just skip to that since that is where you are now.

Harold G. Neuman's picture

Harold G. Neuman

Sunday, November 24, 2019 -- 11:04 AM

See also: my remarks on

See also: my remarks on Comedy and the Culture Wars...(scheduled for December 8, 2019) I still believe cognitive bias is largely a learned behavior. And, perhaps moreover, irrationality is a defense mechanism? Mindfulness, then, only attains within those who attain mind it all connected with Searle's notion about direction-of-fit?

Tim Smith's picture

Tim Smith

Friday, December 13, 2019 -- 11:29 PM




RepoMan05's picture


Monday, December 2, 2019 -- 4:40 PM

Its so politically incorrect

Its so politically incorrect to suggest diferences between the sexual dimorphism. Its just like if someone made the existence of time into a political issue. On one hand, you can obviously eat a plate of french fries without suffering from the exotoxins of mold spores but then you also cant explaine the incorporeality that lets you do it.

Obviously there's a difference between the sexes you can discuss but you have to entertain legitimacy for the fallacy of statistics and averages to do it. A very unpopular fallacy to entertain when it doesnt suit you.



psconrad's picture


Tuesday, December 17, 2019 -- 11:43 AM

I have a bias against using

I have a bias against using Greekesque plurals for words with no Greek root. I can almost tolerate biases being pronounced as "biaseez", but processes is definitely not "processeez", any more that fortresses is "fortresseez" or caresses are "caresseez". Biases and processes were so much a part of this otherwise enjoyable and interesting podcast that it was quite maddening.

Tim Smith's picture

Tim Smith

Wednesday, December 18, 2019 -- 6:06 AM

这不是偏见。It is a

There is no natural kind to grammar. Grammar is constructed as was this show. The fact that a group of minds constructed language does not give language a natural kind status.

Tim Smith's picture

Tim Smith

Wednesday, December 18, 2019 -- 11:05 PM

This show danced around truth


The human mind is constructed. The brain and human body is a tool for this mind to find truth. Along the way we bounce from breast to tombstone on a cascade of necessity and vice. Very very rarely do we actually find truth.

I lost it... let me start again.



Ken hit a very deep point early on that was glanced a few more times in the discussion and, I think, might put light to the darkness that is cognition falsity.

Ken playfully called Debra Dorothy to allude to Dorothy's awakening or delusion to find Oz and the Lollipop Guild. This is the deep. This is the point where bias becomes bias. You are not you. The mind is not the brain though it sprouts from it.


But what is real? What is cognitive bias? I think Nosek confuses the issue by not laying out his concept of construction to begin. It is "the" deepest confusion in Science and thought today. Drop your avatar when finding truth unless that avatar is the problem all along. It is.

什么是真的?...我不知道。但我喜欢各种口味的棒棒糖。是一根味道很差的棒棒糖。我认为没有。Oz是真的吗?Certainly not.


Harold G. Neuman's picture

Harold G. Neuman

Thursday, January 2, 2020 -- 12:36 PM

An essay I have been

An essay I have been developing:

Cognitive bias and the role of form vs. substance

Cognitive bias, which I have called learning-driven, gets additional impetus from the form/substance dichotomy. Form dictates procedure, process and rules of propriety. Basking in its self-importance, it allows for substance (if any ensues) only as an incidental by-product.(It is worth noting here that in law, fairness entails two levels of due process: procedural and substantive. The procedural aspect deals with the form a process may take, The substantive, as that name suggests, concerns the matter of substance.) Rules of order are the quintessential manifestation of this phenomenon: the most important outcome is not an effective, substance-laden investigation of evidence and facts. The outcome (if it may be called such) is merely an assured and orderly procession, dotting the ii's and crossing the tt's, with form collapsing under the weight of its' own immensity. The inability of meetings to generate substantive change and improvement reliably and consistently demonstrates itself. Organized chaos is not simply a humorous quip. It is an apt description of what causes organizations to fail and otherwise-competent executives to leave, be expelled or commit suicide. Chaos, by any appellation, is still chaos. For many of us, this is a lesson learned over the course of a lifetime and one from which few profit. A fortiari, for some there have emerged new models, rejecting the burdens of form and embracing open-ended, substance-seeking approaches By encouraging results-oriented methods, obstructive effects of cognitive bias can be reduced. Japanese auto makers.pioneered this notion and other segments of society are catching up. As Ryle noted, problems are not always questions. It is helpful, however, when solutions can be found...

Harold G. Neuman's picture

Harold G. Neuman

Sunday, January 5, 2020 -- 11:27 AM

Cognitive Bias, Part Two

Cognitive Bias, Part Two
(I actually have re-written the first portion of this essay. Much of what was shown above on January 2, 2020 got severely edited and substantially re-organized)

Is it the case, though, that cognitive bias, in all its disguises, is an inescapable contingency? May it be surmised this has always been so? In so far as there are beliefs about most anything and a plenitude of unprepared, undisciplined minds holding those beliefs, the answer, I think, must be yes. Presence-of-mind requires effort and practice: few of us can be bothered with Zen gymnastics or anything of the sort. Thinking harder is not in the playbook. Those who lack a coherent playbook, or worse, see no need for one, are blissfully ignorant of their limitations and most certainly condemned to their own cognitive bias., 'until some cro mag steals the BMW'. They have not a bare notion that providence smiles on determination and purpose (PSDP), let alone the claim: chance favors the prepared mind.

有人可能会问:有没有什么不可避免的意外事件?如果是的话:认知偏见是否必然是其中之一?我认为,信念和精神纪律的缺失在很大程度上是认知偏差的原因。然而,人们得出的结论是,人类的思想是多层次和复杂的。我们个人在社会结构中的定位至关重要;我们希望确保和保持身份;派拉蒙。即使是那些与我们格格不入的人,不管他们多么古怪、多么疏离,都保留着某种身份感;对归属感的渴望。认同和归属需要适应和妥协。利益集团和更紧密的意识形态实体既不改革也不符合潜在成员的愿望:潜在的追随者必须符合、接受、接受、支持和捍卫群体的认知偏见。 The bias, a fortiari, is self-perpetuating, not subject to change, failing advent of some paradigm shift. such shifts, other things equal, do not command support and defense of cognitive bias. Reasons may be manifold, but, at bottom, there were not enough turtles...

Harold G. Neuman's picture

Harold G. Neuman

Tuesday, January 7, 2020 -- 12:13 PM

CB, Part Three:

CB, Part Three:

这样看来,你们是得着好消息了。坏消息和最好被认为是不确定的消息。认知偏差是感知的一部分——这是人类状况的一部分。它促进和/或增强了我们的身份和归属感。只有精神疾病或伤害才可能改变、损害,甚至在极端情况下,摧毁它。它可以通过镇定、决心和目的(或者说是意志力)来引导和操纵,但人们不太可能避免它。即使是在修道院隔离也不行。(这类静思被注入了本文所讨论主题的一种特殊变体:一种认知共鸣。That is fuel for another essay regarding the relationship between religion and magic, currently in first draft format.)

A final note, and by no means axiomatic: those who value form over substance may suffer disproportionately with cognitive bias. I am uncertain as to why, but, it appears to have something to do with getting one's ducks where they are supposed to be.


Harold G. Neuman's picture

Harold G. Neuman

Thursday, January 9, 2020 -- 12:15 PM

Another take on form,

Another take on form, substance and living in the real world, and again, this is just for fun:

Process implies form, but form does not guarantee substance. Consider, if you will, the current state of government: hire a clown, expect a circus. Hire a troop of clowns, expect the Greatest Show on Earth.

Harold G. Neuman's picture

Harold G. Neuman

Wednesday, January 15, 2020 -- 12:25 PM

Re-write and addition(s) to

Re-write and addition(s) to Part Three, from the sentence which reads: ...That is fuel...currently in first draft format.):

Due, in pertinent part to the inerrant need for identity and belonging, and, notions fired by the PROCESS of socialization begun in childhood, human beings cannot help but become cognitively biased. The direction and scope of that enterprise depends upon how they are parented; general and specific influences emerging therefrom; and, personal interests attending growth and maturity. Form, it would seem, ought to channel interest toward substantive matters. Yet, it is seen that ALTHOUGH FORM IMPLIES PROCESS, IT DOES NOT GUARANTEE SUBSTANCE, EVEN WHEN PROMISING TO DO SO. If, in Sellars' intonement, these 'things' were able to 'hang together' (inerrantly), a perfection of that human condition would more affirmatively present itself. He probably had some intuition of this, with or without a definitive notion thereof. As we see, perennially, promises are as ephemeral as individuals seeking public office, who also make them, perennially.


Harold G. Neuman's picture

Harold G. Neuman

Thursday, January 16, 2020 -- 10:56 AM

In further editing of the


Harold G. Neuman's picture

Harold G. Neuman

Monday, January 20, 2020 -- 11:16 AM

Last comment on this topic (I

Last comment on this topic (I promise):


mrjames5214's picture


Friday, February 7, 2020 -- 9:32 AM

Where can we find a *biggest

我们在哪里可以找到一个“最大的清单”(她说“接近200个”!)的认知偏见??'s picture


Sunday, May 3, 2020 -- 7:03 AM

Rightly said. Knowing

Rightly said. Knowing cognitive biases can really help us understand ourselves better and improve decision making.

I have a 10,000+ worded article that covers 20 biases in-depth, with infographics, examples, and ways to overcome them - It might be a great addition to your readers.

But anyway, great article.

Nick Drury's picture

Nick Drury

Sunday, September 19, 2021 -- 8:18 PM

I am interested in natural

I am interested in natural occurring cognitive biases in nature. The closest example I've found is the American groundhog - which supposedly emerges from its burrow where is has been hibernating - but if it is cloudy - it concludes that winter is not over (I know a bit of anthropomorphism) and goes back into its burrow again for another 6 weeks. A human equivalent is Aristotles error, shared by many, and is "intuitive", but was corrected by Galileo's experimental proof, is that heavier bodies fall faster than light ones.

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