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Subliminal 10: Self



How our ego defends our honor. . . why schedules are overly optimistic and failed CEOs feel they deserve golden parachutes

Best chapter in the book. Basically covers cognitive dissonance, and pretty much every example Mlodinow has in here applies to human beings as a whole, not just some subgroup of people (liberals, the religious). Most pertinent chapter to rationality the theme of the project.

Kindle Notes:

Ironically, people tend to recognize that inflated self-assessment and overconfidence can be a problem—but only in others.14 That’s right, we even overestimate our ability to resist overestimating our abilities. What’s going on? (3483)

Note: Busted.

As the psychologist Jonathan Haidt put it, there are two ways to get at the truth: the way of the scientist and the way of the lawyer. Scientists gather evidence, look for regularities, form theories explaining their observations, and test them. Attorneys begin with a conclusion they want to convince others of and then seek evidence that supports it, while also attempting to discredit evidence that doesn’t (3512).

“causal arrow” in human thought processes consistently tends to point from belief to evidence, not vice versa (3523).

The little research that has been done by scientists on scientists shows that it isn’t uncommon for scientists to operate as advocates rather than impartial judges, especially in the social sciences, in which there is greater ambiguity than in the physical sciences (3594).

Recent brain-imaging studies are beginning to shed light on how our brains create these unconscious biases. They show that when assessing emotionally relevant data, our brains automatically include our wants and dreams and desires (3616).

the U.S. General Accounting Office estimated that when the military purchased equipment involving new technology, it was delivered on schedule and within budget just 1 percent of the time (3715).

The results showed that when the male applicant had the streetwise résumé, the participants decided street smarts were important for the job and selected him, but when the male applicant had the sophisticate’s résumé, they decided that street smarts were overrated and also chose the male. They were clearly making their decisions on the basis of gender, and not on the streetwise-versus-sophisticated distinction, but they were just as clearly unaware of doing so (3730).

In fact, studies show that the people with the most accurate self-perceptions tend to be moderately depressed, suffer from low self-esteem, or both.48 An overly positive self-evaluation, on the other hand, is normal and healthy (3832).

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