November 24th 2019
Grip of an illusion
One error in judgment that I have made is miss judge my academic ability in freshman college year, which leads to a catastrophic ending. When I got into college, I foolishly thought it’s no big deal. Too me, it was just another school and more classes to come. I thought if I took my time, I could get good grades in all my classes. Thus, I took a 17-credit course schedule, which includes one English course and one science course. I was enjoying the small amount of courses I had each week which was about 11, 12 class sessions peer weeks compared to 4 courses per day high school schedule. Suddenly I had so much free time with so little amount of homework to do. However, that was only the beginning. As the semester goes by, more and more assignments, projects, presentations, and essays were being assigned. I started to get a real good taste of college. Due to my poor time management ability and lack of study strategies, somehow, I managed to screw up most of them. I recall at the end of October, I had to drop 3 of them because even if I get all A in the final assignments, my final grades won’t look pretty. Back in the beginning, when I made this decision,I have never thought one misjudgment could have such an impact on my college career.
I start to think that if we carefully think about all the decisions, conclusions, judgment, we made in the past five days, how many of them are an evidence-based, well-developed statement? Furthermore, there are so many times that I feel no need to question my judgments or decisions cause I think that its well celebrated. In fact, I suppose that most of them are false assumptions that my mind is automatically telling me that I’m correct, but I’m not. Unfortunately, this aberration is so deeply embedded in our culture, and so many of us have been a victim to it. How can you tell when you are blind by your own blindness? Luckily, Daniel Kahneman from the New York Times. In his recent article, “Don’t blind! The hazards of confidence” He provides an overall deep analyze of how those false judgments arose? And how to avoid them from happening.
Daniel Kahneman gives a specific term to it. He calls it Cognitive Fallacy, thinking of mistaken belief. Coming from his own experience, he was working at the psychology branch under the Israeli Army service. His job was to determine subject potential in a short period of observation. While they were working under Israel army service, they felt no need to question their predictions. They have the confidence that the soldiers that they chose can make an influence in the future. If they did not go as expected, they could say, “of course, anything could happen in the future.” (pg2) However, as more and more results come back negatively, he discovered the disturbing truth that their prediction “is a little better than blind guesses.” (pg3) Most importantly, he knew all along, but he continues to “act and believe that each forecast is valid.” In his word, he calls it “the illusion of validity.” (pg3) He indicates that when people are facing a hard decision, they prefer the easy way out without realizing it. Obviously, we can’t make such monumental decisions like does an individual has the potential to be a leader based on a short period of oversedation. So, they chose to believe what they see is all there is. They chose to believe that one hour of observation can give them an overall view of the subject. Moreover, the coherence of the story gives people more confidence and makes them feel it’s right, even though they are most likely are not making a right judgment or saying the right thing. It does seem logical that whoever stands out in that trail can have the potential to be the star. This coherence of the story/logical sense gives them confidence that they are making a valid prediction.
Later in his life, he got the privilege to work with an investment company. Through a long period of researching, he discovered that the more trade processed in stock, the less revenue is going to bring. In addition, It’s surprising but true that this industry is all about luck than professional skills. On the other hand, stock pickers insist on believing that “they were competent professionals performing a task that was difficult but not impossible, and their superiors.” How do we identify what professional appear to have the illusion of skill? He suggests that “when making a prediction, is it evidence-based?” “Do professions have the opportunity to know the background? “It’s important to know that Are professionals developing their judgment with professional confidence or evidence-based? It is critical not to let your “self -esteem” and “livelihood” (pg7) to manipulate how you think when well-evidenced facts challenge your perspective. In his own words, “Your mind simply doesn’t digest them” (pg7). In my view, Kahneman presents an overall in-depth, detailed analysis of elements that caused false judgment. Thus, with his idea, I can diagnose what caused the mistaken judgment that I made at the beginning of my college career.
In my first couple weeks of college, I first felt there were so many free times so little classes and homework, and then I automatically assume that it’s going to be this way the rest of my year. It’s funny to think that I have only been in the college for a couple of weeks and come to the conclusion that college is not hard whatsoever. My experience provides a vivid example to Mr. Kahneman’s theory, which is “what you say is all there is.” I had only just begun, and It was only the first month of the college, and I’m assuming it’s going to be the same as the first month. I made up a story from so little I knew and concluded that the rest of it is going to be the same. I continue to have the same mindset for a long time, and at the end of the year, I finally realize that my academic skills don’t qualify my course schedule. At that point, it was too late to make any changes because It was way past the add and drop period.
Another fallacy that caused this disaster is the illusion of skills. Back in high school, if you went through it, you will understand that high school classes do not require a tremendous amount of time skills and strategies to get good grades. I was doing fine in high school, not straight 4.0, but decent. Somehow I began to have believed that my academic ability is at the top of my class. I carefully think about where it came from, but I couldn’t. In Mr. Kahneman words, he indicates that “Overconfident professional sincerely believe they have the expertise, act as experts and looks like experts. You will have to struggle to remind yourself that they may be in the grip of an illusion.” In my case, I assume that my mindset/ result made me believe that I’m an expert when it comes to school. On the other hand, the truth is, I suck at it. It’s terrifying to think how many of those judgments I made in the past decade are well reasoned based, or I was just in a grip of an illusion.
These cognitive fallacies do apply to everyone, and we have been a victim of this subconsciousness action. When you make a false judgment, and you don’t realize it. It could be a small decision or some minor thing, but it might have a significant impact on your life, such as school success, family relations, personal interest. How do we prevent it from happening? At the end of his paper, Kahneman introduces two critical thinking about how to avoid cognitive fallacies. When it comes to making a judgment, do we have the evidence, “cues,” and the “regularities” (pg7)to support this judgment? When it comes to making a prediction or judgment, can we find the regularities and trends from the available evidence in history? If we can discover the regularities, the next decision or prediction we made can be sufficient enough, and it won’t just be random guesses. For instance, if I take some time to look back at my student career, I will find that I have never been an elite student. That will be my “cues,” and if I acknowledge it. I will know that it won’t be a wise choice to take a full load course schedule in college, which is known for its difficulty.
Well, false judgments or decisions we made before cant be undone. What we can do is look into the future. Be wise when it comes to making a judgment. Use what Kahneman taught us and learn from the old experience to prevent this happening in the future.
Daniel, Kahneman. Don’t blind! The hazards of confidence. New York Time. October 19,2019