Sunday, September 28, 2014

A List Of Psychological Biases That Humans Have

I'm always baffled when I hear theists make the Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism (EAAN), where they argue that naturalistic evolution would make our beliefs fit for survival, and not for truth, but somehow think that with god's guidance our brains were designed for truth. Below I have a list of some of the biases that affects virtually every human being taken from Michael Shermer's book, The Believing Brain. So the challenge to theists who hold to the EAAN is this: if god guided our evolution so that our brains would hold beliefs that are true, why do we have so many psychological biases that prevent us from the truth that appear to be the product of that very evolutionary process?

Confirmation bias: the tendency to seek and find confirmatory evidence in support of already existing beliefs and ignore or reinterpret disconfirming evidence.

Hindsight bias: the tendency to reconstruct the past to fit with present knowledge.

Self-justification bias: the tendency to rationalize decisions after the fact to convince ourselves that what we did was the best thing we could have done.

Attribution bias: the tendency to attribute different causes for our own beliefs and actions than that of others.
  • Situational attribution bias: we identify the cause of someone's belief or behavior to the environment.
  • Dispositional attribution bias:  we identify the cause of someone's belief or behavior in the person as an enduring personal trait.
Sunk-cost bias: the tendency to believe in something because of the cost sunk into that belief. (Hanging onto losing stocks, unsuccessful relationships, etc.)

Status quo bias: the tendency to opt for whatever we are used to, that is, the status quo.

Endowment effect: the tendency to value what we own more than what we do not own.

Framing effects: the tendency to draw different conclusions based on how data are presented.

Anchoring bias: the tendency to rely too heavily on a past reference or on one piece of information when making decisions.

Availability heuristic: the tendency to assign probabilities of potential outcomes based on examples that are immediately available to us, especially those that are vivid, unusual, or emotionally changed, which are then generalized into conclusions upon which choices are based.

Representative bias: an event is judged probable to the extent that it represents the essential feature of its parent population of generating process.*

Intentional blindness bias: the tendency to miss something obvious and general while attending to something special and specific.

Bias blind spot: the tendency to recognize the power of cognitive biases in other people but to be blind to their influence upon our own beliefs.

*Defined by psychologists Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman

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