Why assholes are more likely to be wrong
Sometimes, we form beliefs that we anticipate others will disagree with—from thinking a movie our friends unanimously loved was terrible, to developing a new scientific theory that upsets the current paradigm. Typically, our audience’s first reaction will be to think we’re dead wrong. They might even be offended. And maybe they’re right! In which case, not only did we risk offending friends or colleagues, we also look silly. Is it better to say nothing, then? But what if we are right? We might be depriving others of a great idea, or fail to correct a grave misconception, and pass on a chance to improve our status by doing so (see, e.g., Altay et al., 2020)....
Blatant bias and blood libel
Biases are, arguably, experimental psychology’s best export. Many a psychologist has built a successful career exploring, cataloguing, and attempting to explain the myriad biases supposed to plague human cognition (for a taste, see this Wikipedia list).
This is not a healthy development. It has helped spread a reign of error in psychology, fed by ‘gotcha experiments’ suggesting that humans are broadly irrational and quite a bit dumber than, say, rats. On the contrary, human cognition is extraordinarily efficient and adaptive—not to pat ourselves in the back too much, but, cognitively, we’re pretty dope. With a keen sense of irony, Gerg Gigenrenzer, one of the stalwarts of human rationality, has decried a bias bias that mistakes adaptive heuristics for biases....
Blind imitation or a matter of taste?
***[This post was co-written by Hugo Mercier and Olivier Morin]