posted on 2021-09-12

"your mind is a labyrinth of anti-cognitive-bias safeguards, huh?"

a friend, to me

do not form your own opinion

when confronted with an idea, it can be tempting to try to evaluate it. in fact, the brain does this by default.

however, i try to avoid doing this; i tend to dismiss ideas that don't have the approval of the consensus of their respective field of expertise. the reason for this is simple: i don't trust my brain (or most anyone else's) to evaluate the validity of ideas [outside of what they have a profound understanding of (which is itself hard to determine).

this is an idea i learned after getting burned many times by believing even popular things that turned out to be just plainly false. clearly, i must be wrong at determining whether an idea i encounter is true. which made sense once i learned about biases.

brilliant words from renowned philosphers or economists can sound insightful and empowering, but so can new-age nonsense about chakras and astrology; and stepping back from the idea to examine whether it actually provides novel and useful value (rather than just being a template to make your hear whatever you want to hear) is very hard and can require an extensive background in the field in question. even studies picked on their own or entire fields will get things wrong, but in general they're still more likely to be less wrong than you.

so, i tend to go by where a statement comes from. the very same idea phrased in the very same way, i will dismiss if it comes from some random self-help youtuber or therapy book; but if it comes from a philosopher which is still being talked about after centuries or has the agreement of the vast majority of economists, then it's probably not completely worthless.

find trusted sources that seem to respect academic (or rationalist) consensus, and/or are more qualified than you at topics you don't know much about, and in your own communication try to be careful and humble when talking about ideas you don't have profound background knowledge of.

there is room to hear weird ideas, carefully and without falling into easy traps or rabbit holes. in general, just try to constantly keep in mind that the information you're receiving is only the opinion of the person saying it; not particularly more likely to be factual than not, contrary to what your brain is designed to assume.

posted on 2021-09-12

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