Cognitive psychology tells us that the unaided human mind is vulnerable to many fallacies and illusions because of its reliance on its memory for vivid anecdotes rather than systematic statistics.
We historians are increasingly using experimental psychology to understand the way we act. It is becoming very clear that our ability to evaluate risk is hedged by all sorts of cognitive biases. It's a miracle that we get anything right.
Flaws in the power of the human brain
Coming at it from a distinct discipline, historian Niall Ferguson, points to the same problem: our mental decision making and our cognitive ability to measure and calculate risk are hindered by biases that prevent us from being objective.
- Without cognitive tools to assist our human brains in piercing a vail of ignorance, humans persist in subjective and prejudiced mindsets.
- Humans have the power to create cognitive tools such as reason, skepticism, and the scientific method to help us critically examine our subjective point of view.
- If we long for critical power in decision making, employing critical cognitive tools such as the scientific method are essential to our success.
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