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-Through my eyes-

20 February 2006

Mental fallacies

salience effects - the one strongest reason or most familiar item etc will have disproportionate impact on our thinking about something. From a list of ten options, we will find it easy to choose the best and worst, and will do so for one "salient" consideration rather than deliberating toward an on-balance conclusion.

- first answer rationalization - whatever you come up with first (for reasons of salience above, say) you will then start gathering evidence to support, so everything will look like it points toward your first answer

- early narrowing - when brainstorming is required and you should be generating many options, you'll often briefly consider than dismiss 2ndary choices without giving them a multi-aspect analysis

- connecting dots - if you get lots of details confirming a hair-brained proposition, you start believing it -- even when it is ruled out decisively by a negative fact or not confirmed at all. For example, people who hear that Melissa is a lawyer rule this sentence, "Melissa is a feminist", more likely to be true than this one: "Either Melissa is a feminist or she eats meat". The latter is more likely, since it's a disjunction. But people like connecting the woman + lawyer = feminist dots. You do too, I bet.

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