Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Post hoc fallacy - you are now less dumb

And speaking of my favorite thought leaders, David McRaney just posted a new video based on his new book "You are Now Less Dumb."  I strongly recommend his podcast interview series.  This new video is on the post-hoc fallacy. 

Behavioral science in the mass media

It is rare that I see a really good overview of cognitive or behavioral science in the general public mass media.  They usually oversimplify the concepts to the point where they are too easily misapplied and misused.  I always worry that they do more harm than good in these situations.  My recent posts on Facebook and loneliness (here and here) come to mind (probably through recency bias!!). 

So it was gratifying when I saw this pretty extensive summary in Fast Company magazine - not exactly a repository of cognitive expertise.  The article describes research from some of my favorite thought leaders: Dan Ariely, Daniel Kahneman, David McRaney, I have subscribed to Fast Company for years, in part because of my consulting with startups and in part because I can use frequent flier miles to pay for it (the power of "free"). 

I don't like to use the pejorative term "bias" to describe these - I prefer "heuristic". But you can think in whichever term you prefer.  To encourage you to click through, it covers:
  • confirmation heuristic
  • consistency and commitment
  • selection bias in sampling
  • availability heuristic
  • cognitive dissonance
  • post-hoc rationalization
  • anchoring
  • the A' effect
  • the power of free
Quite a litany.