Nassim Nicholas Taleb describes his book, “The Black Swan“, as a book about confirmation bias. The black swan is very rare, and if you had never seen nor heard of a black swan you might be inclined to say that they do not exist. In an effort to make sense of the world, we create schema, or mental images of how things are (and should be). Furthermore, we tend to search for information that confirms our schema. Let’s say that my schemata for dogs is that dogs are vicious creatures liable to attack at any time, then I am probably going to attend information that confirms my prior belief. For instance, when reading the newspaper, I would attend to an article about a dog attack a small child, but ignore one about a dog saving a child from drowning. You see, attending to any information that runs counter to my dog schemata, then I would create what psychologists call “cognitive dissonance”, and dissonance creates a feeling of unease.Read More »The psychology of goal setting
Some esoteric or spiritual authors say that in order to be more enlightened and awakened you need to be more present, and you to release yourself from the desires of the ego – an essentially Buddhist point of view – so that you are able to see things as they really are.
From a neuroscience point of view there is some merit in this, and let me explain how. First of all we segment the brain to a number of functional areas. The first split would be the planning and executive function part of the brain (the frontal and pre-frontal lobe), next would be the processing areas (the parietal, temporal and occipital lobes), then attentional part of the brain (the brain stem and reticular activating system) and then the emotional part of the brain (primarily the limbic system).Read More »The neuroscience of now