Personal observations on life

Errors in thinking – Part 8

The contrast effect

Human beings have difficulty in thinking in absolute terms. We judge things by contrast. Something looks ugly, cheap or small if it is sitting next to something beautiful, expensive or large. The positive qualities of something is felt only when it is compared to something less positive. Your house is big if all the other houses in the lane are smaller. If all the houses in your lane are big, then you are living in an average house. If all the other houses are bigger than yours, you feel that you are living in a hut!

Availability bias

We create a picture of the world in our minds using the examples that most readily come to mind. In other words, we decide things on the basis of available information. The problem is, just because some information is available to us, it need not be all that there is to reality. Because of availability bias, we go through life with an inadequate list of guidelines. For example, a girl who has been born into a highly intellectual environment and is not exposed to anything else believes that the world is made up of only intellectual people, and is unpleasantly surprised when she meets someone who cannot discuss Plato or Aristotle. The only way to combat the availability bias is to be exposed to ideas and people who are different from what you already know.

Personal observations on life


Loneliness is the sinking feeling that there is no human breath around

It is a terribly cold feeling; one could freeze to death

due to loneliness.

The mind talks to itself, but tires of it after a while,

Then stops talking, and there is deafening silence.

Loneliness is this deafening silence inside and around you.

sleep is a respite from loneliness

at least your dreams keep you company

and there are people in your dreams.

Someone to hug, and someone to talk to

someone to understand, and someone to hold my hand

that is what I long for, please.

Personal observations on life

Errors in thinking – part 7

Authority bias

Most of us are in awe of authority, and we blindly obey them, often to disastrous results. The immediate rewards of obeying authority is being in their good books, and and that you stand more of a chance to land the next promotion. However, are all authorities good for you? Think back in your life and pick out instances when commands from authority have been good in taking decisions. Start with your own family. Did your father want you to pursue a career that you did not want to? Even if you did not want it, did you bow to his authority and pursue it any way?

Whenever you are about to make a major decision in life, take the advice from authorities as just a suggestion. The final decision should be yours, after carefully studying the issue, and weighing the pros and cons. Never take decisions just to please authorities if your gut feeling is against it.

Human behaviour, Personal observations on life

Errors in thinking – Part 6

The mother of all misconceptions is the confirmation bias. What is confirmation bias?

Confirmation bias is the tendency to interpret all new information in such a way that it is compatible with our existing beliefs. It is the filtering out of information that contradicts our existing beliefs, assumptions and theories.

Imagine that you contact the Corona virus and become infected with Covid 19. You have to attend an interview, but since you are sick you cannot go for the interview. If you are an atheist, you might interpret this as an example of the randomness of life, a proof that there is not intelligent being or God controlling man’s life. However, if you are a theist, you might say that you were likely to do badly in the interview and God saved you from the embarrassment of doing badly at interview. Such is confirmation bias

Personal observations on life

Errors in thinking -part 5

The trap of reciprocity is an error in thinking. Humans like to give back once they receive something. We don’t like to be in another person’s debt. Give and take is a natural instinct.

It is this reciprocity is that is exploited by business organizations when they give free dinners. Imagine that a furniture company invites you for dinner. The next time you want to buy furniture, you will choose your old host, as a token of appreciation for the dinner invitation, even if you don’t really like the furniture that they make. The only way to escape this is to not accept the invitation for a free dinner in the first place.

The ugly side of reciprocity is retaliation, where revenge breeds counter-revenge in a never-ending cycle. It is very difficult to not take revenge because the pull of reciprocity is so strong.

The moral of it all it just this: don’t accept free gifts.