Errors in Thinking

Photo Credit: History Rundown

The human mind has the ability to solve complex problems and think creatively. Between technological and medical advances, the brain has accomplished exceptional tasks. Many people believe that the mind is incapable of making errors. However, people make mistakes due to flawed thinking. These errors can negatively impact someone’s life and even cause harm to them. There have been instances where people have gone to prison because someone believed that they did something wrong. Even though there was no evidence of a crime, the wrongly accused “perpetrator” was convicted because of errors in the “victim’s” thinking. Many of the mistakes people make are due to errors in thinking and logical fallacies.

To begin, the first error in thinking that troubles many human beings is the argument from ignorance fallacy. This particular thinking error occurs when a person automatically assumes something because there is no evidence as to why it happened. (ID) An example of this is when the skeptics of the Apollo Moon Landing claimed that since the American flag was waving in the wind, the mission was a hoax. They argued that the moon lacked an atmosphere and had no wind, meaning it was impossible for the flag to be moving. In actuality, when Buzz Aldrin pushed the flag into the Moon’s surface, he touched the metal pole, causing it to vibrate and ripple the flag. The skeptics did not consider the scientific reasoning behind this situation, which led them to believe the landing was staged. Another example of the argument from ignorance fallacy is when a girl and her friends were playing with an Ouija board, and she vomited and fell off her chair. Believers of the power of the Ouija board assumed that she was possessed by spirits. In reality, she was probably just ill. Because there was no exact explanation to the girl’s actions, people resorted to saying it was the board. (D, I) The final example is the sighting of Bigfoot in the forest. Humans have mistaken tall figures and other people as Bigfoot. Even without going close to the silhouette, believers assume it is that of Bigfoot. (D, I) This theory is not the most logical, but since they do not have a direct answer as to what the figure is, they draw premature conclusions. The fallacy, argument from ignorance, appears most often when there is a lack of evidence, and it can impact what a person believes is true.

Photo Credit: 941 Magazine

Another error in thinking that people make is false correlation. False correlation takes place when humans incorrectly associate one event with another. The first example of this thinking error is when a group of people took wreckage from the alleged alien attacks in Roswell, New Mexico. Of the people who took remains, one woman was killed, and another one was robbed. This event led others to assume (surmise, deduce) that because the people took debris, either the government or aliens attacked them. However, these events are falsely (erroneously) connected, as there may have been another reason as to why they were harmed. A second example of the false correlation fallacy is when the carcass of a big sea creature was found on a beach. The people that found the remains drew the conclusion that it was the Lochness monster. There was no evidence whatsoever that it could be, in fact, a beast like Nessi. Later, it was discovered that the creature had been a prop for a movie. The founders falsely connected the fake skeletal system of an animal with that of the Lochness monster. The last example is when a woman was playing with an ouija board. The following day, she killed other people. The woman told investigators that the board had possessed her, which is why she went on her killing spree. The more reasonable answer is that she was mentally unstable, and she had issues before using the Ouija board. (I, cc I) These examples above prove that the false correlation fallacy can group two unrelated events together, which can impact what a person thinks.

The final error in thinking that causes serious problems for people is they underestimate the role of chance and coincidence in their life. Humans tend to believe that things happen for a reason, and there is a cause and effect relationship between situations and events. To begin, on September 11, 2001, some workers in New York City supposedly did not show up for work because they knew of the upcoming attacks on the World Trade Center. It was said the government was behind 9/11 and alerted people ahead of time not to go to work. Their absences were likely due to illness or a vacation, not knowledge of a terrorist attack. It was just by chance that they were not at the Twin Towers on the day of the assault. Another example is a boy saw a bat outside his window in the middle of the night. The next day, he found out his aunt had died that same night around the same time. People said that the bat was his aunt, but it was just a coincidence that this event occurred. A final example of the underestimation of chance and coincidence is a so-called psych detective predicted a shooter would be caught and convicted in August. She did not know the killer but claimed she could predict the future. Her prediction came true, and he went to jail. It was believed that she could predict the future, when she really just made a lucky guess. The chance and coincidence error in thinking can cause humans to second guess why certain events happen.

Photo Credit: 9/11 Facts

In conclusion, there are an abundant (ample, prolific) amount of ways that the mind can make mistakes. The logical fallacies and errors in thinking that tend to pop up often are the argument from ignorance, false correlation, and the failure to understand the relationship between chance and coincidence. Between something as severe as causing someone to go to prison and as minor as looking ignorant, errors in thinking can impact people’s lives. Some of the time, these mistakes can be harmless. Other times, they can profoundly affect a person’s current life or future. Not all of the examples pertain to everyone. However, almost every person has made thinking errors in their lifetime. The mistakes are not always evident, but identifying them now can help make thinking more accurate in the future.

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