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Monday, November 16, 2015

Believing What You Don’t Believe

By Jane L. Risen and David Nussbaum
The New York Times - Gray Matter
Originally published October 30, 2015

Here is an excerpt:

But as one of us, Professor Risen, discusses in a paper just published in Psychological Review, many instances of superstition and magical thinking indicate that the slow system doesn’t always behave this way. When people pause to reflect on the fact that their superstitious intuitions are irrational, the slow system, which is supposed to fix things, very often doesn’t do so. People can simultaneously recognize that, rationally, their superstitious belief is impossible, but persist in their belief, and their behavior, regardless. Detecting an error does not necessarily lead people to correct it.

This cognitive quirk is particularly easy to identify in the context of superstition, but it isn’t restricted to it. If, for example, the manager of a baseball team calls for an ill-advised sacrifice bunt, it is easy to assume that he doesn’t know that the odds indicate his strategy is likely to cost his team runs. But the manager may have all the right information; he may just choose not to use it, based on his intuition in that specific situation.

The entire article is here.