Emotional Competency

Explore the Logic of Passion


Distortions
Our minds are wired to select and interpret evidence
sustaining the essential belief: “I'm OK”

Our minds are wired to select and interpret evidence supporting the hypothesis “I'm OK”. A variety of mechanisms: conscious, unconscious, and social direct our attention to ignore the bad and highlight the good to increase our hope and reduce our anxiety. We work hard to retain the belief that “I'm OK” even when faced with significant losses. Self-justification is deeply ingrained in each of us. Mental schema make it easier for us to perceive information that supports what we already know or believe.  Unfortunately we often get it wrong.

High and LowOur thinking is the result of our own perception, judgment, experience, and bias. Our brain distorts reality to increase our self-esteem through self-justification. People perceive themselves readily as the origins of good effects and reluctantly as the origins of ill effects. We present a one-sided argument to ourselves.

Confirmation biasExternal Link is the strong human tendency to dismiss or distort evidence contrary to our beliefs and readily seek out evidence that supports our views.

Humility reduces our need for self-justification and allows us to admit to and learn from our mistakes. It can help us overcome many of these distortions.

People suffering from depression often reverse this bias and interpret evidence to support their fears they are not worthy.

During times of stress, overload, or threat, we often resort to a simplistic form of thinking, called primal thinking, that incorporates many of these fallacies. For an accurate appraisal it is important to reassess the situation using effortful, valid, thoughtful, and accurate analysis that properly allows for the complexities we face. Employ critical thinking and work to understand what is.

Styles of Distorted Thinking

In addition to the logical fallacies that can misrepresent or misuse evidence, here is a list and short description of several common forms of distorted thinking. 

Filtering (selectivity): This is a failure to consider all the evidence in a balanced and objective assessment. We go where our attention is, and our attention is inherently limited. Selectivity is a failure to consider a neutral, or balanced, point of view. It can have two basic forms. The first is considering only the negative details and magnifying them while filtering out all the positive aspects of a situation. The second is taking the positive details and magnifying them while filtering out all the negative aspects of a situation. In any case evidence that supports your bias is selected, favored, or weighted more heavily than evidence contrary to your bias. Find the realistic balance between the optimistic and pessimistic points of view. Seek out, carefully consider, and assimilate all the evidence.

Overgeneralization: It is incorrect to arrive at a general conclusion based on a single incident or piece of evidence. This is a common example of the more general fallacy of basing a conclusion on unrepresentative evidence. Consider a broad range of representative evidence before drawing a conclusion. Consider systematic evidence, and dismiss anecdotal evidence.

The parable of the blind men and the elephantExternal Link illustrates the dangers in generalizing from unrepresentative evidence. What each person experienced was a true portion of the elephant, but taken individually each sample was unrepresentative of the entire elephant. Each blind man extended the evidence gathered only from his limited point of view to incorrectly conclude he understood the whole of the elephant. Each sample can be accurately interpreted only when all the samples are integrated to create a representative whole.

Polarized Thinking (false choice, dichotomy, primal thinking, false dilemma, black and white thinking): This is the fallacy of thinking that things are Hueeither black or white, good or bad, all or nothing. This fallacy can lead to rigid and harmful rules based on primal thinking when it is efficient to compress complex information into simplistic categories for rapid decision making during times of stress, conflict, or threat. Polarized thinking can also lead to unhelpful forms of perfectionism. The reality often lies in the sizeable middle ground between these extreme poles. Recognize and reject the false dichotomy. The words “either / or” are a reliable signal alerting us to a false dichotomy. Find other alternatives that provide a constructive solution.  Dialogue is a powerful tool for moving beyond a false dichotomy. A clever Zen master teaches his students to reject a false dichotomy and go beyond polarized thinking with the following challenge. He places a cup of tea before the student, then says “If you drink that cup of tea, I will beat you with a stick, and if you don't drink that cup of tea I will beat you with a stick.” The student has to reject the false dichotomy, recognize options other than the two presented, and create other alternatives, such as offering the tea to the instructor, or asking his advice, to avoid punishment.

Face VaseSome phenomenon are intrinsically dual. Consider the image on the left, known as the Rubin vase / profile illusion. Do you see a vase or two human profiles looking at each other eye to eye? An optical illusion—demonstrating a surprising feature or limitation of our visual perception system—causes us to see either the vase or the faces at any one time. This is determined by perceiving either the black as the foreground and the white as the background, or vice versa, at any instance. This perception easily flips as our attention shifts and we see the other image. We cannot see both at once and we can voluntarily see either one at a given time. What we see is an image that can be perceived as either at any particular instance. Arguing for vase vs. face misses the point; the image is intrinsically both. Focusing on the false dichotomy of face or vase distracts us from understanding the intrinsic duality of face and vase. Quantum physics elegantly describes how light is both wave and particle. Asking if Barack Obama is black or white, if you are liberal or conservative, republican or democrat, with us or against us, scientific or religious, can obscure a grander unity.

Everyday language includes many subtle false dichotomies. Asking “do the ends justify the means” focuses on a false choice between these ends and those means. It dismisses the important possibilities of achieving important goals by other, less destructive means. Asking “whose fault is this” encourages us to choose a single person to blame. Justifying actions by saying “I had no choice” falsely dismisses the many alternatives that were not imagined and not chosen. Asking if a particular behavior results from “nature or nurture” distracts us from recognizing that most behavior results from a combination of both. Concluding “you get what you pay for” dismisses the possibility of market inefficiencies or breakthroughs in product design, manufacturing techniques, or discovering new value and new types of value in unusual places.

False dichotomies are harmful because they distract us from the many alternatives that could provide creative solutions or help us constructively resolve conflict. Consider the distinction between the false dichotomy of “black or white” and the accurate dichotomy of “black or non-black”. Non-black includes a vast range of colors spanning shades of gray, the colors of the rainbow, and the infinite shades of colors in between. Yet all of these rich and varied possibilities are dismissed when we accept the false dichotomy of “black or white”.  The red rose, green grass, blue sky, and golden sunshine all disappear when we focus narrowly on “black or white” rather than “black or non-black”.

False dichotomies confuse complements with opposites. The complement of black is non-black, which includes a wide range of colors. The opposite of black is anti black, which is the single color we call white.

Using the phrase “I think of this somewhat differently . . .” can create a useful transition when you are confronted with a false dilemma or a question based on false assumptions. It creates space for introducing an alternative viewpoint and moving the conversation in a more constructive direction.

Mind Reading: You conclude, incorrectly and without considering other alternatives or testing your assumptions, that you understand how another person is thinking and what their reasons and motives are for taking a particular action. This is an example of the Fundamental Attribution Error where you incorrectly attribute an action or intent to an agent. One example of this is drawing a negative conclusion in the absence of supporting information. Focusing only on evidence that supports a negative position, while neglecting to consider alternative positive explanations is the fallacy of not considering representative evidence. It is false to conclude the “he must hate me because he didn't say 'hi' to me.” There are many plausible explanations for why he neglected to say “hi”.

Personalization (Egocentric bias, self-reference): This is the fallacy of incorrectly thinking that everything people say or do is a reaction to you. It is an egocentric viewpoint where you attribute personal meaning to everything that happens. Face it, you are not really that important nor influential. This point-of-view often causes the predator to view himself as the true victim; their cause is just and is not to be thwarted. It also often results in a set of self-centered rules.

Attribution Errors: It is a fallacy to believe you can correctly know a person's intent for behaving as they do. Their actions may or may not be deliberate. The person may not even be aware of what they are doing. Their actions may or may not be directed at you. Their actions may have unintended consequences or may result from an accident or chance. We judge others based on behavior and we judge ourselves based on intent. It is difficult to determine cause when only effect can be observed. This error is so common and so misleading it has been named the Fundamental Attribution Error (FAE).

Intentional Stance: A class of attribution errors based on the belief that outcomes only result from an agent's intent, and that bad things are the result of intentional evil. One example is attributing natural disasters such as drought, floods, and hurricanes to the revenge of supernatural forces. Personal examples, such as attributing the difficulties faced by the Nazis to the “diabolical Jew”, quickly provide a basis for distrust and hate. Intent cannot be reliably inferred from behavior.

Pattern Discernment: We may think we see a pattern that isn't there; the outcomes are simply the result of random events. Or we can think we recognize a pattern that is different from what we actually see. We may also fail to recognize a pattern that is present.

Catastrophizing: You anticipate an unreasonable disaster based on a small problem. Every scrap of bad news turns into an inevitable tragedy. It is the error of using a personal, pervasive, and permanent explanatory style despite contrary evidence. This is another example of the more general fallacy of basing a conclusion on unrepresentative evidence.  Consider a broader range of representative evidence before drawing a conclusion. Strike a realistic balance between optimistic and pessimistic views. Skip the histrionics.

Control fallacies: It is a fallacy to mistake what you can change for what you cannot change. Do not underestimate the degree of control you have for your own actions. You are not helpless, powerless, nor perpetually a victim. Examine the alternatives you have for taking action and  responsibly for your life. Also do not overestimate your responsibility for the happiness and pain of others. Be realistic in evaluating the power and influence you do and do not have over yourself and others.

Fallacy of Fairness: Your sense of justice may not be shared widely and is certainly not shared universally. The world may not be fair, or at least it may not always work according to what you feel is fair. Examine your own sense of justice and continue to reconcile it with what happens in the world.  The principle of empathy is a good basis for justice. Anger is the emotion that urges us to act on our sense of justice. Choose your battles carefully to make the most constructive use of your limited time, energy, and other resources. Don't harbor resentment at every injustice you perceive, and examine your feelings of self righteousness. Gather evidence to make an informed decision.

Outward Causes: We are biased to think that basically we are all right and that therefore our difficulties are caused by outward causes. This leads us quickly to blame others for our difficulties. It also opens the door to hating others because we blame them for our difficulties. This fallacy describes an inappropriate external locus of control.

Blaming: Do not be quick to hold others responsible for your pain. Do not blame yourself unjustifiably for the failures of others. Consider a broad range of representative evidence, including the likelihood that there are many causes contributing to each outcome, before drawing a conclusion. See disproportionate responsibility, below.

Disproportionate Responsibility: (Single causes) Generally many causes contribute to each result, outcome, event, or incident. For example, the causes contributing to an automobile accident can include: design of the automobile, manufacture of the automobile, maintenance of the automobile, design of the road system, weather conditions, driver training, driver preparation, driver attention, choice of vehicle, choice of route, choice of time and schedule, passenger behavior, pedestrians, obstacles, traffic signals, other cars and drivers on the road, and other factors. Be objective when assessing blame or taking credit. Divide the responsibility for the good or the bad result proportionality among each of the contributors, based on how their actions or inactions affected the result. Perhaps you deserve some of the credit or must take some of the blame, but it is unlikely you or they are solely responsible. Don't make the mistake of polarized thinking when assessing responsibility. Don't attribute undue blame to a scapegoat.

Should (counterfactual thinking, imperatives): Don't get angry every time someone does not act according to your ideal. The word “should” is a plea to behave according to a particular (often implicit) set of values and beliefs. Examine those beliefs, and decide if they really do apply to the person or situation that is irritating you. What is the evidence? What can you change and what can't you change? It is unreasonable to expect that others will act according to your ideal vision of their behavior or role, especially when your preferences are unstated. See the fallacy of change, below.

Fallacy of Change: It is unrealistic to believe you can change other peoples' nature, personality, deeply ingrained habits, or strongly held beliefs. Be realistic about what you can change and what you cannot. Do not depend unrealistically on others for your own well being.

Ignorance: Choosing to ignore or dismiss relevant information, choosing a narrow worldview; refusing to inquire, examine, study, and learn; rejecting alternative viewpoints before examining or considering them; ignoring or denying evidence; choosing to stay unaware; and holding desperately to your limited beliefs are all ways to choose ignorance over wisdom and more carefully considered evidence. Blind faith, forgetfulness, and lack of introspection are also forms of ignorance. When coupled with your attachment to an idea, belief, someone, or something, ignorance can surface as pretention, deception, shamelessness, lack of rigor, inconsideration and disrespect of others, and distraction.

With nearly three million Wikipedia articles to study, millions of books to read, more than six billion people to meet, and new discoveries being made every day, no one can know it all. We are all ignorant. In addition, we sometimes choose to ignore readily apparent information that contradicts our beliefs. Avoid this form of deliberate ignore-ance. Stay curious.

Emotional Reasoning: We decide with both our heart and our head. Continue to improve your emotional competency and ensure a healthy and constructive balance of both passion and reason. Identify and verify the assumptions that are being made. Carefully consider the evidence before deciding.  Exercise impulse control while enjoying the constructive passions of life.

Being Right (denial): Dogmatically holding onto an opinion, belief, or defending an action can be a destructive result of stubborn pride. Denial is a failure to acknowledge evidence. Even if you believe you are right, decide if you would rather be right or be happy. Don't waste time pursuing the fallacy of change described above. Examine your sense of justice and the assumptions you are making. Gather evidence to make an informed decision, but even if you are right, it may not be a battle worth fighting. How is this working for you now?

Cognitive Dissonance: Tension between thoughts and actions inconsistent with those thoughts. A tense and uncomfortable contradiction exists unless your actions support your thoughts and beliefs. To close the gap and relieve this tension humans often revise their thoughts to support their actions. People who cannot stop smoking convince themselves that smoking is good. They highlight the relaxation, autonomy, sophistication, weight control, and maturity symbolized by smoking. They certainly don't emphasize the health risks, expense, and filth created by the habit they cannot escape. Irrevocable bad decisions are similarly defended. People who bought the wrong car, lost money in the stock market, went on a disappointing vacation, or got a bad haircut spontaneously invent clever defenses for the actions they are now stuck with. What is remarkable is how strongly we believe these self-justifying stories when we make them up ourselves.

Confabulation: Manufacturing a plausible story to account for surprising events or behavior. People often unknowingly fill gaps in memory with fabrications that they believe to be true. They confuse imagination with memory, or they confuse true memories with false memories. Often people can’t seem to stop themselves from making up explanations after the fact for whatever it was they just did for unconscious reasons.

Optimism: Believing that all is good and everything will turn out fine provides the important benefits of encouraging us to persist toward our goals and overcome obstacles. However, unchecked optimism can easily detach us from the cold harsh truths of reality. Examine the evidence, think critically, allow for skepticism, consider a variety of viewpoints, come to a balanced conclusion, and act responsibly.

Heaven's Reward Fallacy: Don't expect every sacrifice you make to be rewarded. Don't play the martyr. Sometimes life is fair, but too often it is not. No one is coming to save you. You are responsible for your own life, well being, and happiness. Exercise your autonomy and take action because you want to, not because you believe you will mysteriously be rewarded.

Just World Theory: The mistaken belief that good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people. This is sometimes used as an excuse to blame the victim; “he got what he deserves.”

Asch Effect: People often change their opinions to agree with the majority, despite the presence of clear contrary evidence. Experiments conducted by Solomon Asch demonstrated the effects of group pressure on the modification and distortion of individual judgment. Experimental subjects often modified their judgment or estimate of an observation to conform with the majority opinion of a group.

Bias: The tendency to attribute positive motives to in-group members (especially yourself) and negative motives to out-group members (especially those regarded as “the enemy”).

Global Labeling: This is the fallacy of overgeneralization, combined with an unrepresentative stereotype. Suspend judgment until you have an opportunity to meet and understand a person as an individual. Do not generalize one or two qualities into a negative judgment about a person or group. The symbol is not the person.

Stereotypes:  Human memory is organized into schema which are clusters of knowledge or a general conceptual framework that provides expectations about events, objects, people, and situations in life. For example, if you are asked to describe a bird, you are likely to recall some description (prototype) based on a blend of common specific bird species, or you will recall a specific bird you are familiar with. This attribute of memory leads us to rely on stereotypes. These are simplified and standardized conceptions or images held in common by members of a group. While stereotypes are an essential feature of human memory, they can cause problems when the attributes associated with the group are incorrectly extended to an individual. For example, a common stereotype of a bird includes the ability to fly, however extending that stereotype to a penguin leads to an incorrect conclusion.

Magical Thinking: Believing that the laws of physics, economics, or the laws of cause and effect, don't apply to you. Believing in miracles or believing that wishful thinking or sheer will alone can cause the outcome you are hoping for are examples of magical thinking, as are appeals to paranormal or supernatural phenomena. Don't let optimism exceed the bounds of reality. Hope is not a strategy.

Accepting Repetition as Evidence: Sometimes a person will simply repeat their opinion when asked to provide evidence to justify an assertion or belief they have expressed. They may repeat their position emphatically, engage in various dominance displays, highlight various power symbols, show impatience, or assert their positional power as they simply repeat their opinion. A variation of this fallacy is to claim “everyone knows . . . is true” as the evidence. But repetition is not evidence, and it should not be accepted as evidence.

Assumptions, Opinions, Rumors become fact: It is easy for assumptions, opinion, or rumors to be accepted as fact. This can happen if these ideas or stories seem reasonable on the surface, or they support your views or interests, if they advance some hoped for outcome, or they are expressed by someone in authority or someone you trust, if the stories are fun to tell, or if others you know also share these beliefs. The incorrect assumption, opinion, and rumor that the earth is the center of the universe went unchallenged by millions of people for perhaps thousands of years. Other rumors and unchallenged assumptions can be even more destructive. When you hear a rumor, take the time to challenge itExternal Link, identify and examine the source, and get independent confirmation of it before passing it on. Don't accept myths, legends, and other speculations and fiction as fact.

Reification: is a fallacy of ambiguity. It is the error of treating an abstract construct as if it represents a concrete event or physical entity. Grand Canyon and Rainbow For example, a particular painting is a specific, real, physical entity, but “art” is an abstract concept with inherently arbitrary and fuzzy boundaries. Arguing that a particular painting is or is not “art” explores the boundaries of the abstraction, but doesn't tell us anything about the painting. Because our brain creates mental symbols for abstractions as readily as it does for real objects, we are easily fooled into believing that our particular concept of “art”, “truth”, “beauty”, “good”, “democracy”, “justice”, or “government” is real, well defined, widely shared, and correct. A related error is to treat a non-living abstraction as if it has intent or judgment. Stating that “The government has decided . . .” falsely attributes intent and responsibility to an abstraction. Remember that abstractions are nothing more than arbitrarily defined, ephemeral, imprecise mental constructs. It may help to think of abstractions like a rainbow. A rainbow is a beautiful emergent phenomenon created in our minds as the result of seeing sunlight refracted through thousands of rain drops. But the rainbow is not real and everyone sees it slightly differently depending on their particular viewpoint. Abstractions are as elusive as the legendary pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. Don't get too attached to them. Operational definitions can help reduce the ambiguity inherent in the abstractions we use.

Sunk Cost Fallacy: Because sunk costs are already spent and cannot be recovered, it is irrational to consider the value of sunk costs when considering alternative actions. Future actions cannot reverse past losses. Economics and business decision-making recognize sunk costs as the costs that have already been incurred and which can never be recovered to any significant degree. Economic theory proposes that a rational actor does not let sunk costs influence a decision because past costs cannot be recovered in any case. This is also called the bygones principle; let bygones be bygones. This recognizes that you cannot change the past. The fallacy of sunk costs is to consider sunk costs when making a decision. Sound business decisions are based on a forward-looking view, ignoring sunk costs. Unfortunately human beings continue to value a past investment of money, effort or some intangible quality (e.g., “credibility” or “face”) independent of the investment's probability of paying future dividends. The irrelevance of sunk costs is a well-know principle of business and economics, but common behavior often ignores this fallacy of trying to undo the past. For example, revenge is an attempt to recover the sunk costs that represent some past and irrevocable harm or loss. People falsely reason “I have too much invested to quit now” when it is rational to only look at the future prospects of the activity. Arguing that “we must continue to fight to honor those who have already died” is another tragic but appealing fallacy of sunk costs.

Suggestive Context (perception set): Sometimes the context in which information is presented is so familiar, or so compelling, that we quickly perceive evidence or draw conclusions without sufficient checking. We then hold firmly to these incorrect conclusions. Here are some examples to try yourself: A bat and a ball cost $1.10 in total. The bat costs $1 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost? Write down your answer. Double check your answer. Now read the correct answer here. For a second example: Look at the following text

FINISHED FILES ARE THE
RESULT OF YEARS OF SCIENTIFIC
STUDY COMBINED WITH THE
EXPERIENCE OF YEARS

How many times do you see the letter ‘F’ in the sentence above? Count them only once. Write down your answer. Now read the correct answer here.

Mere Exposure Effect: People prefer objects they have been previously exposed to, even if that exposure was so brief they do not recall it. Feelings apparently come first. Affect—our subjective feeling about something—precedes and strongly influences our cognitive judgments about what we like and don't like. Quite often a statement such as: “I decided in favor of X” is no more than an after-the-fact justification—a confabulation—for the vague feeling that: “I liked X.” Most of the time information collected about alternatives serves us less for making a decision than for justifying it afterward. Advertisers exploit this effect when they get you to prefer their product simply because you have seen it first or more often.

The “Seven Sins” Of Memory: Although we tend to think of our memories as retaining a perfect record of our experiences, human memory distorts in these seven ways, documented by Daniel Schacter:

  1. Transience: Memories fade over time.
  2. Absent-mindedness: Lapses of attention cause us to forget temporarily.
  3. Blocking: When conflicting demands are placed on our memory, they may interfere with each other and block recall. The word may make it to the tip of your tongue but no further.
  4. Misattribution: Memories are retrieved, but they are associated with the wrong time, place, or person.
  5. Suggestibility: Memory is distorted to agree with a suggested result. See “suggestive context” above.
  6. Bias: Memory is distorted by our own attitudes, beliefs, emotions, point-of-view, or experiences.
  7. Persistence: Sometimes unwanted memories cannot be put out of mind.

The Ego Defense Mechanisms: These distortions help us avoid accepting evidence that challenges our self-image as a good and worthy person or that challenge our strongly held stereotypes. Perhaps they act to reduce anxiety, but because they are distortions, they are not helpful in the longer term.

  1. Denial: arguing against an anxiety-provoking stimuli by stating it doesn't exist. Refusing to perceive the more unpleasant aspects of external reality.
  2. Displacement: taking out impulses on a less threatening target. The mind redirects emotion from a ‘dangerous’ object to a ‘safe’ object.
  3. Intellectualization: avoiding unacceptable emotions by focusing on their intellectual aspects. Concentrating on the intellectual components of the situation to distance yourself from the anxiety-provoking emotions associated with these situations.
  4. Projection: moving unacceptable impulses in yourself onto someone else. Attributing to others your own unacceptable or unwanted thoughts or emotions.
  5. Rationalization: supplying a logical or rational reason as opposed to the real reason. Constructing a logical justification for a decision that was originally arrived at through a different mental process.
  6. Reaction formation: taking the opposite belief because the true belief causes anxiety.
  7. Regression: returning to a previous stage of development. Reverting to an earlier stage of development in the face of unacceptable impulses.
  8. Repression: pulling thoughts into the unconscious and preventing painful or dangerous thoughts from entering consciousness.
  9. Sublimation: acting out unacceptable impulses in a socially acceptable way.
  10. Humor: Refocusing attention on the somewhat comical side of the situation to relieve negative tension; similar to comic relief.

Quotations

  • “You're entitled to your own opinions, but you're not entitled to your own facts.” ~ Senator Daniel Patrick Moynahan
  • “The human understanding when it has once adopted an opinion (either as being the received opinion or as being agreeable to itself) draws all things else to support and agree with itself.” ~ Francis Bacon, (1561-1626)
  • “A lie can get halfway around the world before the truth can even get its boots on.” ~ Mark Twain
  • “Ignorance is a choice.” ~ Neriah Lothamer
  • “The greatest of faults, I should say, is to be conscious of none.” ~ Thomas CarlyleExternal Link
  • “‘I have done that,’ says my memory, ‘I cannot have done that,’ says my pride, and remains inexorable. Eventually—memory yields.” ~ Friedrich NietzscheExternal Link
  • “The saddest lies are the ones we tell ourselves.” ~ Lucille Clifton
  • “Our mental limitations prevent us from accepting our mental limitations.” ~ Robert A. Burton
  • “Wisdom is ‘seeing through the illusion’” ~ McKee & Barber

References:

A Mind of its Own: How Your Brain Distorts and Deceives, by Cordelia Fine

Vital Lies Simple Truths: The Psychology of Self Deception, by Daniel Goleman

Prisoners of Hate: The Cognitive Basis of Anger, Hostility, and Violence, by Aaron T. Beck

Decision making and behavioral biases, Wikipedia entry.

Asch conformity experiments, Wikipedia entry.

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, by Robert B. Cialdini

Destructive Emotions: A Scientific Dialogue with the Dalai Lama, by Daniel Goleman

Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me), by Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson

On Being Certain: Believing You Are Right Even When You're Not, by  Robert Burton

Greenwald, A. G. (1980). The totalitarian ego: Fabrication and revision of personal history. American Psychologist, 35, 603-618.

An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural, by The James Randi Educational Foundation

Psychology of Intelligence Analysis: Biases in Perception of Cause and Effect, Chapter 11, Center for the Study of Intelligence, Central Intelligence Agency, 1999

Maps of Bounded Rationality: A Perspective on Intuitive Judgment and Choice, Nobel Prize Lecture, December 8, 2002 by Daniel Kahneman

Feeling and Thinking, Preferences Need No Inferences, by R. B. Zajonc, University of Michigan, American Psychologist, February, 1980.

One Red Shoe, a movie farce, staring a young Tom Hanks, based on distorted thinking.

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