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Daily Decisions making

naive realism: I’m right, you’re wrong.

sculpture by: joriswegner.de

Everyone is influenced by ideology and self-interest, except for me. I see things clearly.

It’s a quote from one of my favorite books; The happiness hypothesis. It made me once again realize that we, in most cases, don’t understand our brain, the thing that controls our life. We are not aware of all the (self) biases we experience. The first sentence is a painful realization of that.

Haidt thinks the most prominent obstacle for ‘world peace and social harmony’ is naive realism, which grows easily from the individual, to the group level, as he describes in his book:

My group is right because we see things as they are. Those who disagree are obviously biased by there religion, their ideology, or their self-interest. Naive realism gives us a world full of good and evil, and this brings us the most disturbing implication of sages’ advice about hypocrisy; Good an evil does not exist outside of our beliefs about them’.

In most cases, we look in a rose-colored mirror. We are aware of everything we do but are not aware of all the things others do. We judge others on the things we find important ourselves. We are self-righteous in setting up the accounting categories.

We are constantly comparing ourselves to others and spin the comparison to our favor. Unconsciously people look for related self-perceived strengths and look for evidence that it makes sense we have that strength.

Ask people who drink coffee to read a study that drinking coffee is unhealthy, and they will do their best to find flaws in the study to support their current and preferred beliefs. A journey of constantly looking for clues that we are right.

According to a Harvard psychologist, thinking, in general, uses the ‘make sense’ stopping rule. People take a position, look for evidence that supports it, and then we find it and stop the thinking process; we settle for the ‘pseudo evidence’ instead of the facts. We don’t look for opposing evidence to our initial positions.

People don’t believe they are doing anything wrong. This is true from people cutting you off on the highway to people with the most absurd conspiracy theories. It’s because we don’t see what we do. A mirror could fix that. Research shows that when people literally see that they cheat in a game they stop. Without a mirror, they don’t.

It is easy to see the faults in others, but difficult to see one’s own fault. One shows the faults of others like chaff winnowed in the wind, but one conceals one’s own faults as a cunning conceals his dice — Buddha.

First, see the log in your own eye, to become less inclined toward arguments and conflict.

Nir Eyal mentioned in a blog post: Identifying the triggers that made you feel bad in the first place requires self-exploration. When you notice yourself feeling distracted, pause and ask yourself what you’re feeling. Are you worried? Are you afraid? Then go one step deeper. What caused the sensation? How does it feel in your body?

For our thoughts, curiosity might be the mirror. Be self-aware about all the self-biases, be curious about why you think/feel certain things, and deploy this habit on other people’s ideas as well.

Walt Whitman says it best: Be curious, not judgmental.

And maybe, we are both right.