What the Social Sciences know about Bias


 

Humans do not use reasoning as a way to expand knowledge and make better decisions; rather, human reason is no more than a means to construct (biased) arguments for the purpose of persuading others

University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland - Hugo Mercier & Dan Sperber 

Why do humans reason? Arguments for an argumentative theory


The social sciences have made significant progress in characterizing various aspects of bias in areas such as law enforcement, forensic science, race and gender studies, and business management. But academics, to my knowledge, simply assume and assert they are free of bias despite evidence to the contrary.

 

However, the quotation above is one of the more interesting finding especially when the word "biased" is added for clarity. The clarification is required because the authors did not emphasize this aspect of the matter, and concluded they, and their colleagues, were not affected by bias.

 

Nevertheless, over a hundred types of bias have been identified and characterized. Here are some recent quotations from preeminent researchers on the topic of bias.  Our work was based on these, and many other, findings of the social sciences: 

 

“For some of our most important beliefs we have no evidence at all, except that people we love and trust hold these beliefs” - Dr. D. Kahneman – Princeton University.

 

“If you thought that science was certain - well, that is just an error on your part” – Dr. R. Feynman.

 

“The correlation between unbiased reasoning and intelligence (is) nearly zero” - Dr. K. Stanovich – University of Toronto

 

“I am generally not optimistic about the potential for personal control of biases” - Dr. D. Kahneman – Princeton University.

 

“Ninety-five percent of cognition (knowing & perceiving) exists in the subconscious mind”  -  Dr. Gerald Zaltman – Harvard Business School.

 

 

“A reliable way to make people believe in falsehoods is frequent repetition - familiarity is not easily distinguished from truth” - Dr. D. Kahneman – Princeton University.