our experience-based intelligence, the better off we will be. Therefore,
we need to recognize the common kinds of mistakes we make.
We use categorical (either-or) thinking and labeling. Some
people believe others are either on their side or against them, either
good or bad, good socializers or nerds, intelligent or stupid, etc. Then
once they have labeled a person in just one category, such as bad,
nerd, real smart, etc., that colors how the entire person is judged and
responded to, and inconsistent information about the person is
ignored. Likewise, if there are either sophisticated or crude people,
and you are sure you aren't sophisticated, then you must be crude.
The world and people are much more complex than that.
When explaining to ourselves the causes of a situation, we often
commit the fallacy of the single cause. There are many examples:
Traits of adults are attributed to single events, such as toilet training
(Freud), being spoiled, birth order, being abused, parents' divorce, etc.
It's usually far more complex than that. When a couple breaks up,
people wonder "who was at fault." There are many, many complex
causes for most divorces. The first method in chapter 15, "Everything
is true of me," addresses this issue. Usually 15 to 20 factors or more
"cause" a behavior.
If we do not attend to all the factors, such as the multiple causes
of our problems or the many ways of self-helping, we are not likely to
understand ourselves or know how to change things (see chapter 2).
For example, if you assume your friend is unhappy because of marital
problems, you are less likely to consider the role of the internal critic,
irrational ideas, hormones, genes, children leaving home, or hundred's
of other causes of depression. Similarly, if you assume that the person
who got the highest SAT in your high school will continue to excel at
every level of education and in his/her career, you are likely to be
wrong. There are many factors involved, resulting in the "regression to
the mean" phenomena, which is illustrated by having an unusually
high or low score on some trait, but, in time, your score on that trait
tends to become more average.
On the other hand, having a lot of evidence is sometimes not
enough. Even where you have considerable evidence for a certain
view, such as for ESP or life after death, that evidence must be
stronger than the evidence against the view or for an alternative
interpretation. Consider another example: "Drugs have reduced panic
attacks and since intense stress is caused biochemically, psychological
factors have little or nothing to do with treating panic attacks." You
must weigh the evidence for and against all three parts of the
statement: drugs work, stress is chemical, and panic is reduced only
by chemicals. All three statements would be hard to prove.
Few of us are without sin (misjudgment). Almost every judge is
biased on some issue, e.g. at the very least, the therapist or scientist
or sales person wants his/her product to be the best. When evaluating
other people's judgments, we have many biases, including a tendency