Who Could Ask For Anything More?

 Everything begins with belief. What we believe is the                                                                 most powerful option of all. Norman Cousins

I’ve got beliefs, and I believe they may be one of the most important parts of me. They are key ingredients of my cognitive tool box. Maybe also the most important part of my decision making skills and my behavioral repertoire. That sounds important to me.

But beliefs are subjective and subject to cognitive biases. Beliefs are not all the same; they vary in certainty. I believe there is a belief continuum.  Dogmatic beliefs at one end, tentative beliefs at the other end. Dogmatic believers believe their belief is the absolute truth, no questioning. Tentative believers believe their beliefs are hypotheses, open to questioning. Other people don’t think much about what they believe and don’t want to bother questioning. These are Passive believers, somewhere in the middle of the continuum.

I favor tentative believers; they investigate the origin and utility of their beliefs. They seek evidence to support or revise their belief; this is being open-minded. Of courseall beliefs are clearly not hypotheses. We all have beliefs that bind us and blind us. And we all have built-in biased mechanisms for believing that our beliefs are true and other’s beliefs are false (cognitive biases). The first step toward illumination is admitting that we have these biases. And acknowledging that they may not be the truth. Next step is a process of investigating and understanding the cognitive biases behind our beliefs.

Today cognitive biases is the hot topic in the popular decision making literature. It is also big news in political news reporting. My blog writing has been promoting a collective worldview that is open-minded and inclusive. Open-mindedness and inclusiveness are two deterrents to cognitive biases. A belief that is open-minded is not certain or dogmatic, and can be changed. A belief that is inclusive is not subject to tribalism. Political decision making today is clearly mostly biased. So is personal and organizational decision making. Can this be overcome by getting acquainted with and identifying cognitive biases? Maybe we should practice by getting acquainted with the cognitive biases by starting with the most common cognitive bias, the Confirmation Bias. Stay tuned.

Confirmation bias, also called myside bias, is the tendency to interpret new                            evidence as confirmation of one’s existing beliefs or theories. Itis the tendency to             search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms one’s preexisting beliefs or hypotheses.When people would like a certain idea/concept to be true, they end up believing it to be true.







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1 Response to I’VE GOT BELIEFS

  1. Eugene Unger says:

    An interesting walk down the belief path. But. I don’t know what you believe. Do you believe all that you wrote? You are what you believe, yes? Who are you? I believe am still here, your friend. Miss our time together



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