We want to see ourselves in a positive light so we see our own ideas as more important than the ideas of others. We notice our own work. We don’t notice the work of others.
Here’s another example. People are good at noticing that conflicts of interest exist in the world, but when they are the one that has the conflict of interest they basically believe that they’re immune. They believe that they’re immune because they’re honest people. But the problem is that when people have a desire to see the world in a certain way that often blinds them from evidence that would be inconsistent with the preference that they hold.
So the doctor who is working with a pharmaceutical firm comes to honestly believe that the drug from the pharmaceutical firm that he or she is connected to is better than the competitor. And it’s not that they are intentionally acting against the interest of their patient, rather that they have a systematic belief that leaves them to be affected by their conflict of interest.
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In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think’s studio.