Every day, politicians, the media, and other people try to fool us into believing what they say or claim is true. Often, they do not even provide valid evidence for any of their claims. What makes it even worse is that many people cannot distinguish between the genuine and false evidence. Three different errors in thinking cause serious problems for people.
The first error in thinking that causes a lot of problems for people is the argument from authority. An example of the argument from authority is how psychics who perform cold readings get sponsored on television and magazines. These psychics are very fortunate and have gotten a lot of fame from it. What this leads people into thinking is that the psychic must have real powers and can perform a legitimate reading. Because people get tricked into thinking that the psychics have real powers, they do not realize that most of the readings that the psychics perform are cold readings(D,I) These cold readings are full of general assumptions that can be made by nearly all people. The next example of the argument from authority is the claim that the Roswell crash of 1947 was a UFO. One believer in particular who made this claim stated that he was a young boy when it occurred and his father was awake at the time of the crash. The accident took place more than fifty years ago, and by now, his father’s story of the event may be entirely different than how he initially told it. Since the son took information from someone else and not himself, it could be false. Another example of the argument from authority is the claims from the many people who believe they have had alien sightings. These people hear stories from friends and family members about seeing a UFO or an alien body and end up finding the story to be real. Like the claims about the Roswell crash of 1947, this evidence usually comes from someone else, rather than the person arguing that they have seen an alien. As we’ve seen with this error in thinking, the argument from authority has become a significantly larger problem because many people will fully believe anything a person of power, whether it is an officer, fireman, or an uncle says.
The second error in thinking that creates havoc in people’s lives is that we prefer stories over statistics. An example of preferring stories over statistics is the belief in astrology. Believers claim that the placement of constellations affects the world in some way, but it is only a speculation, and there are no facts to back it up. People find stories about how the constellations affected the outcome of the 2016 presidential election fascinating and therefore start to believe in it. The next example of preferring stories over statistics is the claim of a woman who was supposedly abducted by aliens. The woman relies on her stories as proof that the abduction happened. She does not have any statistics to prove that she was taken other than a small paper cut, which she claims was caused by the aliens(I,D). The cut could have happened while she slept. The believer also said that the time went by very fast and that it also prove that she got abducted, but she may not have been paying attention to the time(I,cc,I). Another example of preferring stories over statistics are the patients of acupuncture who believe that the practice can heal the body. These patients have heard stories of ill people who have used acupuncture to heal their bodies. What the believers do not know is that no evidence proves that acupuncture can treat the body. The healing that is supposed to come from acupuncture could just be the body doing it by itself. These examples of preferring stories over statistics show that many people still chose to make claims about certain things they may think are true without ever showing a small amount a of proof or a logical reason.
A final error in thinking that is especially significant is that we seek to confirm. An example of this error in thinking is the claim that aliens created crop circles. These believers are very biased toward the evidence because they want to believe that aliens created crop circles. Often, they do not even pay attention to the evidence that proves them wrong. The next example of this error in thinking is the hoax claiming that the Apollo moon landing was fake. The evidence always comes from conspiracy theorists who cherry pick all of the little details about the footage of the moon landing. This way of looking at evidence leads to confirmation bias which means that they do not look at the documented evidence that proves them wrong. Conspiracy theorists are focused so much on trying to prove that the moon landing was fake that they forget to look at the actual evidence. Another example of this error in thinking is the people who claim that Lisa Caputo’s readings are legitimate. Many who seek Lisa Caputo want her to confirm their beliefs which make them more likely to believe her. Lisa’s believers do not look at the fact that she is doing cold readings. By seeking to confirm, believers of common conspiracy theories are fooled by their need to know whether or not the claims they have made are true, which leads them into thinking that faulty evidence is correct.
These three and many other errors in thinking cause a lot of problems for people. The main issue with not being able to spot these errors in thinking is that people are unable to tell if evidence is true or false. People can make others look stupid when they make them believe in something that has little to no evidence to back it up. Many of us need to start thinking logically so that the right evidence we are looking for is obvious. No longer should conspiracy theories play a concept in everyone’s lives. All people should be able to spot these errors in thinking, and not just the youth. Adults especially need to know this because they are the ones who make the decisions that will impact the lives of children in the future. Thinking without errors means thinking without uncertainty.