Useful Perception is More Important than Accurate Perception

We need to search for disconfirming evidence to correct mistakes. 

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.

60 Second Reads is recorded in Big Think's studio.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

China’s artificial sun reaches fusion temperature: 100 million degrees

In a breakthrough for nuclear fusion research, scientists at China's Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) reactor have produced temperatures necessary for nuclear fusion on Earth.

Credit: EAST Team
Surprising Science
  • The EAST reactor was able to heat hydrogen to temperatures exceeding 100 million degrees Celsius.
  • Nuclear fusion could someday provide the planet with a virtually limitless supply of clean energy.
  • Still, scientists have many other obstacles to pass before fusion technology becomes a viable energy source.
Keep reading Show less

Project 100,000: The Vietnam War's cruel and deadly experiment

Military recruits are supposed to be assessed to see whether they're fit for service. What happens when they're not?

Flickr user Tommy Truong79
Politics & Current Affairs
  • During the Vietnam War, Robert McNamara began a program called Project 100,000.
  • The program brought over 300,000 men to Vietnam who failed to meet minimum criteria for military service, both physically and mentally.
  • Project 100,000 recruits were killed in disproportionate numbers and fared worse after their military service than their civilian peers, making the program one of the biggest—and possibly cruelest—mistakes of the Vietnam War.
Keep reading Show less

Here's how diverse the 116th Congress is set to become

The 116th Congress is set to break records in term of diversity among its lawmakers, though those changes are coming almost entirely from Democrats.

(Photo: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Women and nonwhite candidates made record gains in the 2018 midterms.
  • In total, almost half of the newly elected Congressional representatives are not white men.
  • Those changes come almost entirely from Democrats; Republican members-elect are all white men except for one woman.
Keep reading Show less