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The Unconscious Shortcuts We Make

In the evenings during the week I take time and watch the show Brain Games on Disney+ with my kids. It’s a great informative show about the way our brains work and encourages the viewer to be interactive with the host by playing several fun brain building games along the way.

After watching a dozen episodes, several of them refer to the concept of Heuristics and Cognitive Biases.

Heuristics are mental shortcuts that allow us to problem solve and make choices fast and efficiently. It helps us minimizes time we use to make decisions and allows us to operate without constantly stopping to think about our next move. Heuristics are beneficial in many ways, but they can also result in cognitive biases.

A cognitive bias is a systematic error in thinking that happens when we process and interpret information in the world around us and affects the decisions and judgments that we make. Cognitive biases are often caused by our brain’s attempt to simplify processing information. Biases often work as ‘rules of thumb’ that help us make sense of the world and reach decisions with relative speed.

In other words, our view of the world and how we respond to it could be coming from a place of limited understanding and we don’t realize it. Whether it’s political, spiritual, social, economical, our brain daily pushes us to make short cuts in information processing and will continue to do so unless we push back.

So the question is, how do we push back?

For starters have a solid foundational understanding of the issue before making a decision and be aware of potential biases that could be tainting your thinking process.

For example from a political standpoint why do you support the party you choose to support? Is it just because that particular party on the surface lines up with the values of the faith you practice? Or do you have a thorough understanding of the foundational policies and principles that party holds and its affect on the community where you live?

In a fast-paced world where time is of the essence in every area of our lives, slowing down and taking time to really understand before we move is a skill we all need to be conscious of developing.

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