Cognitive bias cheat sheet, simplified
Thinking is hard because of 4 universal conundrums.
Four months ago I attempted to synthesize Wikipedia’s crazy list of cognitive biases, and after banging my head against the wall for weeks, came up with this Cognitive Bias Cheat Sheet which John Manoogian III beautifully organized into the above poster. It’s a 12-minute read, and I didn’t actually expect anyone to read it, but four months later it’s been viewed 750,000 times and recommended over 5,000 times! Since then, I’ve started working on a book proposal (get updates and ongoing thoughts), and wanted to start by creating an actual cheat sheet that doesn’t take so long to read. Here it is…
The 4 conundrums of the universe that lead to all biases
There are 4 qualities of the universe that limit our own intelligence and the intelligence of every other person, collective, organism, machine, alien, or imaginable god. All 200ish of our known biases are attempts to work around these conundrums!
🙈 1st conundrum: there’s too much information
The 1st conundrum is that there’s too much information in the universe for any individual within the universe to process it all. We have our 5 senses (or up to a dozen depending on how you divide them up), and we’re located at points within vast planes of space and time. So there’s a lot of information out there (outside your house, across the street, on the other side of the world, throughout the galaxy, and back in time) that we have missed and will continue to miss. When we talk of super artificial intelligences that eventually dwarf the power of our own brains, even they will be constrained in this way. They will likely install and network some insane number of cameras and other sensors around the world, and maybe deploy rockets to continue mapping our solar system and beyond, but the limitations of material, fuel, the speed of light, and the lack of time travel options guarantee that full coverage of the universe’s information will never even be remotely possible.
🔮 2nd conundrum: there’s not enough meaning
The 2nd conundrum is that the process of turning raw information into something…