Posts Tagged ‘Bias’

255- The Urgency Instinct

The rule of thumb when making an irreversible decision with long-term consequences is to take our time.

That time is necessary to look at the situation from different perspectives, consult the various stakeholders, and consider any unintended consequences that may arise from the decision.

But when we’re surprised with an emergency, a feeling of urgency takes over and overrides our ability to reason and make good decisions.

Advocates and activists can sometimes fall into the trap of being blinded by that same urgency for a cause they feel passionate about.

Being in a state of chronic urgency is a recipe for disaster. Breathe and take small consistent steps.

ht: Hans Rosling – Factfulness – #Bias #10: The Urgency Instinct

254- The Blame Instinct

In science, there is a concept known as “simultaneous invention” – where certain discoveries happen entirely independently of one another, almost as if they were inevitable.

Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace both discovered evolution. Newton and Leibniz both discovered calculus. Oxygen was discovered by Joseph Priestley and by Carl Wilhelm Scheele.

When things go right, history likes to look for heroes that battled against all odds to bring something to life that would have never existed without them. When things go wrong, history hunts for scapegoats to blame.

But the real opportunity for innovation lies in looking around the individuals and paying attention to the invisible systems that had to be in place for success or failure to occur.

Very rarely is a single individual to credit or blame for a changing world.

ht: Hans Rosling – Factfulness – #Bias #9: The Blame Instinct

253- The Single Perspective Instinct

In the creative world, we’re often encouraged to become a master of one single medium.

Being a jack of all trades makes it very hard to stand out in an endless sea of content creators – but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t explore other modalities of storytelling.

The more tools and techniques we acquire in our career, the more options we have when trying to tell a story.

Different mediums come with different methodologies which inform how we plan, create, and share those stories. More importantly, it changes how we see the world and its possibilities.

A toolbox is always going to be more valuable than a hammer. Don’t over-estimate the value of your tool simply because it’s the one you master.

ht: Hans Rosling – Factfulness – #Bias #8: The Single Perspective Instinct

252- The Destiny Instinct

Today’s existential global issues can often feel so daunting that it fills us with a sense of dread, misery, and powerlessness.

Slow and steady change often feels insufficient relative to the scale and scope of the challenges we face – but if we look at history to see the challenges that our grandparents’ generation managed to overcome, we can see that incremental change compounds over time.

Large institutional systems and processes might look too big to change, but they’re constantly in motion – adapting to the changes in technology, culture, and religion – often for the better.

Most global issues solved by previous generations must have felt equally insurmountable. To gain perspective, study the history of systemic changemaking and internalize how we have the power to shape our own destiny.

ht: Hans Rosling – Factfulness – #Bias #7: The Destiny Instinct

251- The Generalization Instinct

Our brain loves to slot information into broad, sweeping categories to quickly navigate and make sense of the world.

We judge people based on labels like Rich and Poor, Christian and Muslim, Capitalist and Socialist – as if these labels alone could predict behaviors, thoughts, and actions.

But if we take the time to break these broad categories down into narrower sub-groups, we can start breaking down our biases.

How might a Rich Muslim Socialist think? What drives the Poor Christian Capitalist?

For activists and advocates looking to change hearts and minds, overgeneralizing by putting the audience into broad categories of “us” vs. “them” is a recipe for disaster.

Assume that every person has a reason for thinking the way they do. Curiosity to understand the other is key to keeping us from overgeneralizing.

ht: Hans Rosling – Factfulness – #Bias #6: The Generalization Instinct

250- The Size Instinct

When marketing their sustainability initiatives, big corporations like to throw big numbers around to talk about the positive impact they’re having on the world.

They’ll brag about how many tons of CO2 they’ve helped to sequester, millions of pounds of plastics removed, or tens of thousands of trees planted to impress the consumer.

But we need to be suspicious of big numbers, especially when they exist in isolation.

To get a real sense of impact or lack thereof, find something to divide those numbers by. Amounts and rates tell a different story.

Suppose a company generates millions of tons of plastics. In that case, a recycling program that captures thousands of pounds is not worth celebrating.

ht: Hans Rosling – Factfulness – #Bias #5: The Size Instinct

249- The Fear Instinct

Everybody knows that diet matters.

What we eat affects our sleep, weight, and energy levels.

The same is true of our information diet.

Unfortunately for us, media – whether mainstream or social – combined with our own attention bias – naturally pushes us to focus on fear. This bias leads us to believe that the world is scarier than it is.

In those moments, it’s essential to pause and wait for the fear to subside.

Risk is the combination of danger multiplied by exposure. Our fear has zero effect on the actual risk it poses.

ht: Hans Rosling – Factfulness – #Bias #4: The Fear Instinct

248- The Straight-Line Instinct

If you zoom in far enough, every growth or decay curve will look and feel like a straight line.

But as you zoom back out, the shape and nature of the curve will lead to very different destinations, even if they began with overlapping straight lines.

When we think of the near future, whether in relationships, careers, or finances, we tend to think about progress or regress in straight, consistent, and gradual lines.

But real life is anything but linear. Just look to the past for proof and see how much it zigs and zags unexpectedly.

When trying to predict the future, never think in straight lines. It’s guaranteed to be wrong.

ht: Hans Rosling – Factfulness – #Bias #3: The Straight Line Instinct

247- The Negativity Instinct

When the stock market tanks suddenly, it can be hard not to feel a sense of anxiety.

But what matters is not how low the market currently is, but at what price you got into the market because things can be both bad and better at the same time.

The market can be down, but you can be doing better than you were when you first got in.

We have a bias towards negativity. Continuous and gradual improvements never make the news, while the occasional dip receives all the attention.

When assessing a situation, differentiate between the level (i.e. bad) and the direction of change (i.e. better).

ht: Hans Rosling – Factfulness – #Bias #2: The Negativity Instinct

246- The Gap Instinct

Imagine you were a giant staring down at the world.

The taller you are, the harder it is to distinguish between the height of different objects when looking down.

Similarly, if you find yourself in the top 1% of the world’s wealthiest people – it’s hard to distinguish between the range of struggles, hopes, and dreams encountered by the bottom 99%.

To be a part of the world’s top 1%, you only need to earn more than $34,000 a year. To be part of America’s top 1%, you need to make more than $500,000 a year.

Our environment wildly distorts our worldview.

When trying to make sense of the world, look towards the global majority, not just the majority we see.

ht: Hans Rosling – Factfulness – #Bias #1: The Gap Instinct