How well does your thinking match with reality? You might be surprised!
People who have trained themselves to think rationally in one area (that’s practically all of us) may not have trained themselves to do so in all areas of life. If you’re like this (and practically everybody is), it doesn’t mean that you’re insane. But it also doesn’t mean that you’re doing just fine. Rather, it means that there’s still room for improvement in your mental skills and knowledge. The good news is that practically anybody can make these improvements, and they don’t depend on having a high IQ.
If you’re like most people, you tend to be lazy and inconsistent in the way you think–at least on some topics. In certain areas of life–or on certain kinds of problems–you may be highly rational, while in others, you may think, decide, and believe in certain ways that don’t jibe with realityWhen we say reality, we mean: the state of things as they actually exist, as opposed to an idealistic or notional idea of them.. These departures from reality lead to problems, both small and large. The more important the issue, the more regrettable is an error in thinking about it.
The great news, however, is that we can learn to avoid a great many of the mental errors we make. The common causes of our mental errors are simple and, well, ….quite common! Almost every thinking error can be explained by one or more of these causes:
- Perhaps you are typical of what scientists call a “cognitive miserCognitive Miser -- Just as a regular miser resists spending money, the cognitive miser resists spending effort on sound and thorough thinking. Science has demonstrated very well that all humans easily TEND to be cognitive misers, and this sometimes gets us into trouble when the right answers to life's (large and small) problems require some deeper thinking than what is usual and convenient.“.
- Perhaps you need to get a little firmer grasp on some basic thinking skills that the scientists call “mindwareMindware -- This includes some basic knowledge in how the mind works, as well as the basics of logic and probability. Just like good software is required for a computer to run well, good mindware helps the mind to operate well.“.
- Perhaps you have one or more “cognitive biasesCognitive Bias -- Any of a number of schemes, patterns, or methods of thinking that regularly lead to bad conclusions, decisions, and beliefs. Examples: 1) Everyone who disagrees with me is just jealous of me. 2) All people of that skin color are thieves. 3) Any problem that requires math is not worth trying to solve.” in play.
- Perhaps you are a “moral miserMoral Miser -- Like a cognitive miser won't spend enough effort on thinking, the moral miser won't spend enough effort on correcting himself when he discovers he is wrong. Whether it's about major things or minor things, we can easily be moral misers when we don't stop to correct ourselves.“, and just don’t care to correct yourself when you are wrong.
Most of us mess up here and there in all these ways, and we pay the price for it—-sometimes little, and sometimes big! The great news is that with a fairly modest level of learning, and with developing some good habits in mental alertness and diligence, we can improve our thinking and our lives considerably.
Let us show you what we’re talking about. Please begin by taking the short quiz here. It will put your thinking to the test and it will serve as a short set of examples to consider together as we tell you about Reality-Based Thinking and what it can do to make your life better! The correct answers will be revealed and explained when you’re done. (No email address or registration is necessary.)