Photo credit: Circle Makers

The Hazardous Effects of Thinking Errors

According to a survey conducted by Baylor University, 25% of people believe that UFOs are spaceships from other worlds; 18% believe in Bigfoot and the Loch Ness monster. As there is no actual evidence for any of these beliefs, one might start to wonder why such large percentages still believe in them.(D,I)The answer is that we as humans are subject to a number of errors in thinking. Errors in thinking can cause an array of different problems and make it hard for people to draw the line between solid, genuine evidence from inadequate or false evidence. There are many errors in thinking, some more elusive (synonym uncommon) than others. In fact, most people use errors in thinking on a daily basis without even realizing. From making up random causes for inexplicable experiences to the superstitions many people follow, errors in thinking are everywhere. Out of all the errors in thinking, three, in particular, can cause notably serious problems.

The first error in thinking that causes the most significant issues is the argument from authority. The argument from authority is common in areas that involve those perceived to be highly intelligent. For example, in regressive hypnosis, many hypnotists are very successful intellectually; some have multiple college degrees. Because of their academic success, people trust them. Many people put full faith in the claims that regressive hypnotists can really bring back memories of a past life. Another example of the argument from authority is seen in astrology. Forms of astrology have existed since the first dynasty of Mesopotamia around 1950 BCE. Because of its origins in ancient times, astrology is passed down from generation to generation. Most people believe in astrology as a source of accurate advice because a parent or grandparent introduced them to it. A final and most important example of an argument from authority is seen in Holocaust denial. In this belief, people state that the Holocaust never actually happened. Followers of this theory most likely do so because of an influencing and seemingly intelligent figure. Some even refer to Hitler as a reliable source of information. Ultimately, the argument from authority is such a powerful error in thinking because almost all people look to at least one figure in their lives for consistent facts, and with recent findings in news reports, sometimes even these can’t be trusted.

Photo Credit: Sell Cell

A second error in thinking that creates issues is the faulty memories of humans. Most people think that the human brain is like a vault; when we gain a memory, it can’t change no matter what happens. However, this idea is scientifically false. Studies show that every time one recalls a memory, it changes slightly. Because of this, outside forces can make drastic changes to memories in many instances. An example of human memories being altered is seen in those who claim to have been abducted by aliens. Most people who make these claims think that aliens brainwashed them after abduction, but they remember their abduction through regressive hypnosis. (I, cc I)They believe certain cuts or bruises they might have are a result of being experimented upon by aliens. Realistically, the injuries could be nearly anything. An even more serious example of faulty memories is seen in eyewitness testimony. Eyewitness identification is thought to be an extremely reliable form of evidence. However, this idea is false. Human brains can change memories in a way that an innocent suspect becomes the culprit when a witness thinks back to the crime. Overall, the faulty memories of humans are commonly perceived to be far more reliable than they truly are.

Photo Credit: The Courier

A final error in thinking that is especially significant is the urge to confirm what one believes to be true. The seeking to confirm is so common because it can apply to any person in any situation. While doing research, nearly anyone has an idea of what they want to find out. Because of this desire, people can easily become biased. Often, one will not stop researching a topic until they find information that satisfies what they want the truth to be, even if the source is unreliable. In areas such as the belief in the Loch Ness Monster, for instance, people commonly use weak evidence because of the desire to confirm. People will see anything from a piece of driftwood to animals such as seals and believe it to be the monster. In addition, poor quality images are popular amongst Loch Ness Monster believers. In a more serious example, researchers who concluded that vaccines can cause autism were highly influenced by a desire to confirm. This strong tendency resulted in the making of many false correlations. In addition, one researcher even admitted to downright lying about his claims of vaccines leading to autism. All in all, seeking to confirm is a highly dangerous error in thinking.

In conclusion, errors in thinking can play prominent roles in an innumerable amount of (synonym-many) areas. From faking the moon landing to thinking that aliens create crop circles, thinking errors can lead to borderline insane beliefs. Some are harmless, but there are other cases where the results of errors in thinking are offensive or even dangerous. For example, vaccines are essential to the reason why many of us are alive to this day. On average, 25,000 people in the US die from influenza yearly. That number would be even higher if more people believed the false claims of side effects of vaccines.(ID) With 5–20% of humans getting the flu yearly with vaccines, casualties would skyrocket (synonym-go up). For this reason, the need for avoidance of errors in thinking is a must. Without thinking critically, life as we know it would be, for the worse, significantly different.

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