Questions to Check Cognitive Biases

by Mike Shea on 30 December 2016

I'm reading both Kahneman's "Thinking Fast and Slow" and Michael Lewis's "The Undoing Project" at the same time, which is fun.

A friend and I were having coffee today and he made me agree to write down twelve questions I thought might aid in helping us check our cognitive biases outlined in the books.

Of course, I am not a Nobel prize winning psychologist or social scientist and I have done no work to verify whether these questions actually accomplish this at all or where they might even harm our ability to off-set cognitive biases, but I said I'd do it so I did it.

I'm working off of Kahneman's conclusion that there isn't any way we can actually remove the biases and instead must figure out how to work within them. The only advice Kahneman gives in the book is to bring other people into the question and seek their advice, so that's my first one, but I don't think that's the only one.

Anyway, disclaimers now aside, here are twelve questions. I broke them out into two groups: "normal" questions which we can apply to just about any question we might have, and "mathy" questions which tend to focus on statistics (the original topic of Kahneman and Tversky's research was focused on whether humans are good inherent statisticians. The answer? NO!)

Normal Questions

Mathy questions

What do you guys think of them? Where are my own biases coming into play to manipulate these questions? Email me at mike@mikeshea.net to let me know.

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