Bias and fools

Two heuristics. The first is simple: 

The attempt to be unbiased in your thinking is itself a bias. 

Because we’re humans with a fallible brain, a mind concocted of story upon story, we don’t know what it means to be unbiased, impartial. So attempts to be unbiased are attempts to assume a state we have no true knowledge of. It’d be the same as telling myself to think like a woman. I’m a man, and while I can imagine how a woman would think about a particular scenario, my imaginings themselves are based on a flawed understanding of how the average women thinks.

Second heuristic. This one concerns “epistemic peers”, which Sarah Perry—in Every Cradle Is a Grave—defines as the people whose opinion we have faith in. An “epistemic peer” is someone who can cause us to evaluate our perceptions just by disagreeing with us or posing difficult questions. The heuristic: 

Don’t trust someone who doesn’t think, nor someone who thinks too much. The former is a fool, and the latter is likely fooling himself.

The absence of thought, obviously, is a dangerous thing. But so too is over-thinking. Decisions made without thought are driven by emotion, impulse, instinct. Decisions made after long deliberation are driven by the rational mind, and the rational mind is biased, flawed, and way too sure of itself, and so likely to tie itself in a knot.