Reading Notes & Thoughts from…

“Elon Musk Thinks Every Child Should Learn about these 50 Cognitive Biases” 

By Jessica Stillman , Inc Magazine

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“Whatever you think of Elon Musk’s many Twitter scandals, sometimes odd public utterances, and past tax bills, one thing is for sure. The guy is clearly able to achieve the near impossible when it comes to engineering and innovation.

It’s a skill he himself attributes to clear thinking. While others look around and see what other people are trying, or assume they can move the status quo only so much, Musk is a firm believer in what he calls “first principles thinking,” or focusing solely on the basic truths and constraints of whatever field he’s working in, and building up from there.

Thinking like this might come relatively easily to a mind like Musk’s, but according to an absolute avalanche of psychological research, the rest of us often struggle to be as clear-headed. We get emotional, fear others’ judgment, or simply screw up our mental math thanks to the brain’s many inherent bugs and biases. Could we all get a little more Musk-like in our thinking if we learned about the quirks that often trip us up as kids?

Musk appears to think so. He recently took to Twitter to declare that cognitive biases “should be taught to all at a young age.” His post included a (not super easy to read) graphic laying out 50 common biases, thinking errors, and irrational human tendencies that kids should be alerted to, which I’ve laid out in list from below.

Do you agree that we’d all be a little better prepared for life if we learned them all in school? “

Moral Luck. Assuming winners are morally superior. Though, ironically, many people have the exact opposite.   In assuming that consistent winners are ‘cheating’.

False Consensus. Causes people to overestimate how much others are like them, in terms of sharing things such as their beliefs, values, characteristics, experiences, and behaviors. Essentially, this means that the false consensus effect leads people to assume that others are more similar to them than they actually are.

For example, the false consensus effect can cause someone with extreme political beliefs to incorrectly assume that the majority of the population agrees with them and shares those beliefs, even though most people don’t.

Curse of Knowledge. Assuming everyone else knows what you know once you’ve learned something.   Because everyone reads my blog, right?   RIGHT?!

Spotlight Effect. Overestimating how much other people are thinking about you.

Availability Heuristic. Why we worry more about rare airplane crashes than objectively much deadlier road accidents. People make judgments based on how easy it is to call an example to mind (and plane crashes are memorable).