order to overcome the doubt and pain due to uncertainty, people
tend not only to base many decisions on beliefs, but also to invent,
accept or collect explicative stories that seems to prove them /
Those beliefs can be individual and collective.
They tend to distort decision making.
Reasons or feelings:
what makes us believe
and comfort our beliefs on apparent reasons
Uncertainty and pain, please keep out!
But is comfort better than doubt and open mind?
Aspect #1: The uncertain future
Most people hate uncertainty. They feel lost in the fog.
allergy to ambiguities spoils their life, all the more as we live in
a world that brings uncertainty by
spades, and which future - and
even current - realities are far from being
People tend to be afraid of what
they don't know to be afraid of.
That obscure but strong aversion might be the main reason why many
people often prefer toinvent or accept any explanation or
prediction - even a fanciful story or a fallacious mental construction -
for any situation that could raise a feeling of doubt.
Aspect #2: The embarrassing past or present
Also, sorry for the platitude,
People preferpleasurable impressions to painful ones.
addresses as well the past as the future (but we saw above that
to create a story can give the reassuring impression that we can know
specific cases when people are not too happy to feel responsible of
failures in which they could have taken a part, they tend to find (self)
justifications in attributing the (sad) outcome to other people's
behaviors or to the environment.
We have here "attribution" or "rationalization", a form of belief
among others, as seen in the list of the various forms in a section below.
Aspect #3: Alone or together
can be individual or collective (social learning, groupthink,
To share a common belief might give an
impression of mastering
Opportune interpretations or dangerous beliefs?
To believe in some principles about life, or about the universe, or
about potato cooking:
Can be useful to guide actions, without having every time to
reanalyze the roadmap we decided to follow.
As uncertainty dominates, we must normally choose among
various interpretations so as to face events.
To change those interpretations at any step would paralyze action
or make it erratic.
=> Thus temporary "opportune beliefs" and "paradigms"
should not be fully shunned, they are even inevitable so as
not to stay passive, nor to zigzag around like a beheaded
But might put our mental comfort over relevancy.
Here we have not too rational attitudes that:
Make us prone to gullibility, either by
* accepting shallow promises of good outcome, * or rallying
against something / someone denounced as
Make us fall into pseudo-certainties and illusions.
Tend to create some mental persistence,
more or less dogmatic, on paths that might be sterile or
Better therefore have an idea of what are the mental biases that can
lead us to false beliefs and dubious explanations.
Here is below a list of the main ones:
The various form taken by those biases
taking as a certain truth something not proven (pseudo-
extreme, even fanatical, beliefs that are never questioned
whatever the realities that would oppose them.
Binary logic (Aristotle bias):
A recipe for dogmatism based on the belief that things are
or false (or - in the moral view - either
good or bad), therefore not
admitting that most situations
- in social life as well as in the physical universe -
complex and multi-sided.
Finding an apparently rational / logical explanation for a
behavior which is just instinctive or emotional.
Wrongly giving the credit or the fault for some good or
bad event, to
some person or category of people (deification,
demonization, magical thinking, conspiracy theory).
Also attributing to outside factors the good or bad effects
of our own moves.
giving the credit of some good event chiefly to ourselves.
Mentally rearranging history when an event occurs, by
thinking we knew
what phenomena were at play, and that
we predicted what would happen.
This could make us overconfident in our ability to forecast
or to make decisions based on our prior beliefs
Following what the group thinks and do, finding comfort
certainty in it.
Then, if it was mistake, saying the responsibility was
so as not to be identified individually as a player.
Believing any statistic or account just because it is published,
scientific-looking mathematical model whatever its
Range estimate aversion:
Believing predictions can be made with just one scenario
just one predicted number (growth rate, stock price...)
at the range of alternative possibilities.