The top 3 habits of deceptive thinking

The top 3 habits of deceptive thinking
You think you are the world… 
and that’s the problem.

In an article in Forbes magazine, Linda Elder talks about some of the ways we’re wrong in our thinking. In her view, they boil down to three:

  1. We’re selfish and we think the world revolves around us.
  2. We think the way we think is right, and we want others to say we’re right.
  3. We believe that the group we’re in (whether religious, cultural, etc.) is the best.


Along the way, we have all picked up some bad thinking habits.  What are some common ones?

A major one stems from our intrinsic egocentric orientation to the world. We all come into the world with the point of view that it is here to serve us, and for as long as the world is serving us we’re fine; but the moment it isn’t, we get upset.  To put it another way, we humans are habitually selfish.  It’s not that we are always selfish, but selfish habits are quite natural to the human mind.  You can pick up the newspaper on any given day and find numerous examples of selfishness, and if we are honest with ourselves, we can see our own selfishness playing a significant negative role in our lives.

Another set of habits of mind connected with egocentric thinking comes from our intrinsic desire to have our thinking validated.  People mostly perceive their thinking to be both correct and true; otherwise they would change it (or so they think).  As a result, when faced with alternative ways of looking at things, people often reject them as ‘illogical’ or ‘unreasonable’ simply because the viewpoints differ from their own.  This leads to a kind of rigidity in thought and action.  When people are in this modus operandi, they see their narrow thinking as perfectly reasonable, and as long as people validate them, they are happy.  But if challenged, they often resist, retaliate or sulk.

A third common set of habits of mind comes from sociocentric thinking, which is essentially the view that ‘our group is the best’. This can be seen as an extension of egocentric thinking. Humans function in groups — we wouldn’t survive childhood if we didn’t. The problem is that, within these groups, people often thrust illogical belief systems and ideologies upon one another.  Indeed, cultures are structured so that people go along with established group beliefs, however irrational those beliefs might be.  We are expected to — and indeed do — habitually conform to group think, and this begins in childhood:  children are not typically taught to question existing views of their culture or what their teachers or parents tell them.  Indoctrination of this sort extends throughout higher education, and as a result, conformity of thought is manifest in a multitude of ways in human societies. 

– The Need For a Critical Thinking Revolution. Linda Elder, who heads up the Foundation and Center for Critical Thinking, discusses why we need a revolution in the way we think, Forbes India>>
– Fool’s Cap Map of the World, Random notes: geographer-at-large>>

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2 thoughts on “The top 3 habits of deceptive thinking

  1. Interesting how an article about "intrinsic egocentric orientation" makes one think about oneself even more.

    The first link is in error.

  2. Tressa:

    That’s because all the best bits of information must contain a paradox…

    Thanks for pointing out the borked link. It’s fixed.

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