Rare Things happen all the Time – Another Example of Deception

Rare Things happen all the Time - Another Example of Deception

Introduction

Far from the intent of teaching deception, I’m writing this to bring awareness to some of the practices of dubious entities towards the gullible masses. Most of what you’re going to read is not my original thought. It is from a recent book that I read. I will do my best to add some personal interpretation whenever I find it appropriate.

The Priming Effect – Your Thoughts, Friends, Environment = Future You

The Priming Effect - Your Thoughts, Friends, Environment = Future You - 2

Introduction

With my head stuck into Thinking Fast and Slow, the voluminous book by Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman, I started becoming more familiar with the field of behavioral economics. Kahneman discusses extensively about cognitive biases and automatic (unconscious) mechanisms that drive human behavior (unconscious to you and me of course – unless you are actively aware of them).

Such mechanisms may allow deceitful/scheming/manipulating entities to exploit us for different purposes.

Other biases may provide rationale behind personal development babble. One of them, the focus of this write-up, is the priming effect. It caught my interest and it made me read a few scientific papers about it. Over the last few decades the priming effect has received a cocktail of appraisal and criticism on behalf of the research community.

In short, “priming is an implicit memory effect in which exposure to one stimulus (i.e., perceptual pattern) influences the response to another stimulus.” (more)

How to Manipulate Statistics in Research – A Short Guide to Bad Science

How to Manipulate Statistics in Research - A Short Guide to Bad Science

Introduction

Today I’m not gonna teach you how to deceive. But, I’m gonna show you how statistics can be deployed for wrongdoing. In particular, I’m going to discuss a few methods that are often applied to research studies so that desired results are more easily attained.

The untrained eye (at least 90% of us) is unaware of such practices, mostly because of the lack of education in critical thinking, logical fallacies, math, and statistics. Hopefully, this will help.

I have learned about these strategies while reading Bad Science, a sobering and, at the same time, funny work by Ben Goldacre [1].

Goldacre shoots at the field of ‘nutritionism’ (or: over-complication of simple and sensible dietary advice) and at those who package sophisticated strategies – such as complex diets, detoxes, light therapies, the worship of one food or another, promotion of, so called, super foods, etc.

If you want to improve your health, things should be fairly simple: eat clean, exercise, sleep. This will get you at least 80% closer to your end goal. Then, you can use other fancy strategies to get even closer.

Step-wise Approach to Improve your Thinking Skills – 7 Books

Stepwise Approach to Improve your Thinking Skills - [7 Books]

Most of us assume we are reason-driven creatures; we assume we hold the power to each and every decision we make; we assume we are highly cognitive. I know I lived my life with these automatic assumptions until not so long ago. But as I learned more about the way our brain works physiologically and as I became aware of its inborn flaws and fallacies I gradually stepped away…

Daily life is mostly driven by habits. Little consideration is put to active, careful decision making. Metacognition (thinking about thinking) is something that mostly nobody is familiar with. Logical fallacies rule our lives. No, this is not the most pessimistic scenario I’m trying to paint here. This is something that we must be aware of.

For now, I’ve put up a list of seven books that should initiate you into the process of becoming a better thinker, of improving your cognitive abilities. These books help me tremendously; and I have a feeling they may serve you to the same purpose. This list is not exclusive as I may add more titles in the future:

Self-Deception – How to Fight your Brain’s Inborn Flaws and Biases [S. Novella]

Self-Deception - How to Fight your Brain's Inborn Flaws and Biases [S. Novella]

Introduction

Few years back, after getting my hands on Charles Duhigg’s life-changing book The Power of Habit, I became more interested in studying the intricacies of the human mind. Specifically, I wanted to familiarize myself with the logical flaws and fallacies we tend to fall prey to. This is how I found out about Prof. Steven Novella of Yale University, a clinical neurologist and an inborn skeptic.

Your Deceptive Mind was the first work of Prof. Novella that I voraciously digested. I listened and relistened to the program a number of times over the past few years. Then I got the companion book for this program – a course about the tricks our brains play on us, along with fight-back strategies to help improve our critical thinking abilities.

Since I read interactively, I collected about 70 quotes, notes, and take-away messages from this course book. I will share some of them here in the hope that it may help you as it has, so profoundly, helped me.

Not only do I better understand myself in terms of susceptibility for self-deception, but I am also more aware of the fallacies of folks around me and also the flaws of research studies and the cognitive biases of the researchers – atop of the financial implications and their conflicts of interest.

Exercising Caution – Confirmation Biases, Cognitive Dissonance and More [Diet Context]

Exercising Caution - Confirmation Biases, Cognitive Dissonance and More [Diet Context]

Intro

I often urge people to exercise caution when making claims for such and such. We know too little about everything, yet we rush into dangerously simplifying concepts and trying to transform decent correlations into large causations. Mike Eades has a clue about this.

What’s even worse is that we have to fight our minds because once we believe something is true, we may do everything possible to hold those beliefs even in the face of shocking disapproval.

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