5 Ways You Lie To Yourself

5 Ways You Lie To Yourself

Check out some of the ways your mind tricks itself.
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Aristotle defined the human as "the rational animal" because our ability to reason distinguishes us from all of the other animals. But that does not mean we always think rationally -- there are plenty of tricks we can pull on ourselves that prevent us from making logical judgments. Here are a few of the biggest ways we lie to ourselves:

1. The Dunning–Kruger effect.

The worse you are at something, the more you will overestimate your competence in that subject. As Charles Darwin said, "Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge." For example, on the subject of cutting-edge physics, a quote attributed to Richard Feynman states that "if you think you understand quantum mechanics, you don't understand quantum mechanics."

2. Hindsight Bias.

After something happens, you overestimate 1) how well you could have predicted it and 2) the probability you could have prevented it if you had wanted to. A lot of times you think that you "knew it all along." For example, in August 2013, the Umpqua Community College shooter wrote an online post about the Vester Flanagan shooting and said that "people like him are all alone and unknown, yet when they spill a little blood, the whole world knows who they are...Seems the more people you kill, the more you're [sic] in the limelight...go on [Y]outube and see the footage of him shooting those people. It's a short video but good nonetheless." Looking back on this, it may seem predictable that he would go on to commit a mass shooting. But no one predicted that he would do it -- or, if they did, no one acted on their prediction.

3. Confirmation Bias.

You overvalue the significance and validity of evidence confirming your beliefs, and you tend to seek that out instead of evidence that might contradict those beliefs. People tend to like news media that is biased towards their own viewpoints -- for example, most Fox News viewers describe themselves as conservative.

4. The Availability Heuristic.

You tend to assume that things you think about are likely and things you don't think about are unlikely. For example, though you are 2200 times more likely to die in a car accident than in a plane accident, many people are still more afraid of flying than driving. After the September 11 attacks on the Twin Towers, flying rates dropped and road use jumped, causing even more deaths than the attack itself.

5. The Fundamental Attribution Error.

You tend to blame external factors for your mistakes and personal traits for others' mistakes. For example, if someone else is acting grumpy, you might call them a grumpy person, but if you are grumpy then it is because you "didn't have your coffee yet" or you "had a rough day" or something like that.

These are only a few of the ways that our perceptions are distorted, but being aware of them can help us to recognize them when they strike and overcome them.

For more information, check out some of the following resources:

Wikipedia: "List of Cognitive Biases"

About Psychology: "What Is a Cognitive Bias?"

Mental Floss: "20 Cognitive Biases That Affect Your Decisions"

io9: "The 12 Cognitive Biases that Prevent You from Being Rational"

Cover Image Credit: GitHub

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An Open Letter to the Person Who Still Uses the "R Word"

Your negative associations are slowly poisoning the true meaning of an incredibly beautiful, exclusive word.
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What do you mean you didn't “mean it like that?" You said it.

People don't say things just for the hell of it. It has one definition. Merriam-Webster defines it as, "To be less advanced in mental, physical or social development than is usual for one's age."

So, when you were “retarded drunk" this past weekend, as you claim, were you diagnosed with a physical or mental disability?

When you called your friend “retarded," did you realize that you were actually falsely labeling them as handicapped?

Don't correct yourself with words like “stupid," “dumb," or “ignorant." when I call you out. Sharpen your vocabulary a little more and broaden your horizons, because I promise you that if people with disabilities could banish that word forever, they would.

Especially when people associate it with drunks, bad decisions, idiotic statements, their enemies and other meaningless issues. Oh trust me, they are way more than that.

I'm not quite sure if you have had your eyes opened as to what a disabled person is capable of, but let me go ahead and lay it out there for you. My best friend has Down Syndrome, and when I tell people that their initial reaction is, “Oh that is so nice of you! You are so selfless to hang out with her."

Well, thanks for the compliment, but she is a person. A living, breathing, normal girl who has feelings, friends, thousands of abilities, knowledge, and compassion out the wazoo.

She listens better than anyone I know, she gets more excited to see me than anyone I know, and she works harder at her hobbies, school, work, and sports than anyone I know. She attends a private school, is a member of the swim team, has won multiple events in the Special Olympics, is in the school choir, and could quite possibly be the most popular girl at her school!

So yes, I would love to take your compliment, but please realize that most people who are labeled as “disabled" are actually more “able" than normal people. I hang out with her because she is one of the people who has so effortlessly taught me simplicity, gratitude, strength, faith, passion, love, genuine happiness and so much more.

Speaking for the people who cannot defend themselves: choose a new word.

The trend has gone out of style, just like smoking cigarettes or not wearing your seat belt. It is poisonous, it is ignorant, and it is low class.

As I explained above, most people with disabilities are actually more capable than a normal human because of their advantageous ways of making peoples' days and unknowingly changing lives. Hang out with a handicapped person, even if it is just for a day. I can one hundred percent guarantee you will bite your tongue next time you go to use the term out of context.

Hopefully you at least think of my friend, who in my book is a hero, a champion and an overcomer. Don't use the “R Word". You are way too good for that. Stand up and correct someone today.

Cover Image Credit: Kaitlin Murray

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Dear America, We Can Step Forward As A Country If We Stop Believing That Only One Belief Is Valid

It's time to promote unity and emphasize our commonalities because only through unity can we step forward as a country.

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Dear America,

2018 was a year of political strife and conflict. The left and the right fought constantly. Republicans and Democrats blamed each other for the tiniest mistakes, and there were only a small number of successful bipartisan deals. Politicians and citizens alike seemed more concerned with sticking to party platforms, even ones they truly didn't believe in, rather than compromising with the other side to improve our society.Yet all this name-calling and hatred — what does it do in the end? What does it accomplish?

We've only seen an increased polarization of American politics and an expanded hostility towards "the other side." We don't consider the well-being of each and every person in America and the bettering of our society, or the building of a stronger world for our children and grandchildren.

We spend so much time insulting each other's political beliefs that we forget probably the most important fact that links us all together: We are all human. We all share the same basic needs, the same struggles, the same moments of happiness and sadness.

And yet we are willing to put our similarities aside and only focus on our differences. We are willing to thrust ourselves into the deep anger and loathing that comes in attacking those different from us. We are willing to parry insults behind the safety of a phone screen and forget all about what makes us alike. And we are willing to gloss over the fact that we have more similarities than differences.

SEE ALSO: Dear Trump, Thanks For Transforming Me Into A Responsible, Educated Citizen

Yes, political beliefs make a person. Political beliefs define the values, ideas and thoughts of a person. But sometimes, we have to reach over those beliefs, as hard as that may be, and focus on the bigger picture at hand. What will insulting someone because of those beliefs do? It definitely won't change their views or make them see things from your point of view.

It's sad and frustrating that this endless fighting doesn't even occur between two countries or two governments or two nation-states. Instead, we see arguments and strife between two family members, two neighbors or even two strangers, all living in the same community and under the same government, all sharing more similarities than differences.

We need to stop focusing so much on singular ideas. We need to stop believing in the close-minded idea that only one thought is the best thought. And instead of wasting energy trying to change other's opinions, we need to use that energy and time to promote unity and emphasize our commonalities.

These past few years have truly divided America. Let's make 2019 a year of unity, because only through unity can we step forward as a country.

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