The sinking of the Titanic is a tragic example of how things can go wrong when we don’t see the problems in front of us. The iceberg that sank the ship was difficult to spot because most of it was hidden under the water. Similarly, our cognitive biases can be like hidden icebergs that can cause us to make bad decisions without even realizing it.
Our biases are often unconscious, automatic thought patterns that we’ve developed over time. They’re like personal icebergs lurking beneath the surface of our consciousness, driven by our instincts, habits, feelings, perceptions, expectations, and core beliefs. These biases can affect how we think and make decisions without us even realizing it.
For example, confirmation bias is a common bias that can cause us to seek out information that confirms our existing beliefs and ignore information that contradicts them. This can lead us to make decisions based on incomplete or inaccurate information. Another bias is the availability heuristic, which is when we rely on the information that is most readily available to us rather than considering all relevant information. This can lead us to overestimate the likelihood of rare events because they are more memorable.
The problem with these biases is that we don’t always see them coming, just like the Captain of the Titanic didn’t see the iceberg until it was too late. We may think we already know what to do, but this doesn’t guarantee that we’re making the right decisions. In fact, psychologists and sociologists tell us that most of our behaviour is predictable, and it’s only when we become aware of our biases that we can start to think more critically about our lives.
So, what can we do to avoid these hidden icebergs? First, we need to become aware of our biases. We need to question our assumptions and seek out information that contradicts our existing beliefs. We can also seek out diverse perspectives and opinions to broaden our understanding of a situation.
Second, we need to slow down our thinking. When we make quick decisions, we’re more likely to rely on our biases and mental shortcuts. Taking the time to gather information, consider multiple options, and weigh the pros and cons can help us make more informed decisions.
Finally, we need to be willing to change our minds. Sometimes we may make a decision based on incomplete or inaccurate information, and it’s important to be open to revising our decisions as we gather more information. This requires humility and a willingness to admit that we may be wrong.
Just like the Titanic, our lives can be sunk by hidden dangers that we don’t see coming.
Our cognitive biases can be like hidden icebergs that cause us to make bad decisions without even realizing it.
But by becoming aware of our biases, slowing down our thinking, and being open to changing our minds, we can navigate safely through the waters of life and make better decisions.