Useful Perception is More Important than Accurate Perception
We need to search for disconfirming evidence to correct mistakes.
Matthew Hutson is a science journalist and the author of The 7 Laws of Magical Thinking: How Irrational Beliefs Keep Us Happy, Healthy, and Sane. Hutson is a former editor at Psychology Today, has a B.S. in cognitive neuroscience from Brown University and an M.S. in science writing from MIT. He has written for Wired, Discover, Popular Mechanics and The New York Times Magazine.
It’s more important to have a useful perception of reality than an accurate perception of reality. But of course, in many cases, an accurate perception of reality is a useful perception of reality. And so it’s important to try to figure out what reality actually looks like and to try to cut through the illusions and to try to cut through your biases and make sure that you’re not confusing correlation for causation. If it looks like A caused B, did A really cause B or is there something else that may have caused both? Try to think of other hypotheses.
Another mistake that we tend to make is to selectively look at evidence or to use motivated reasoning. So if you cherry-pick things in your environment that pop out at you and tend to support things that you already believe or things that you want to believe, then maybe you should try to find disconfirming evidence.
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