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The 3 Psychological Reasons We Cling to Conventional Wisdom

Pike Syndrome

It's a feeling of powerlessness caused by repeated negative events. Maybe you’re a designer whose boss keeps shooting down ideas, for example.

In school, we are taught that there are right and wrong answers, and we learn to treat every task at work like we have to find the right answer. We don't look for a better option because we are only concerned with the right answer.


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The 3 Psychological Reasons We Cling to Conventional Wisdom

The 3 Psychological Reasons We Cling to Conventional Wisdom




Key Ideas

Consider the context

We can fall victim to psychological barriers when we try to cling to general wisdom and favor absolutes, rather than act as we should.
We implement best practices without considering the context. It could happen when we prefer to try and fit into someone else's mold for what "success" looks like instead of thinking for ourselves. 

If we stopped obsessing over the right answers and instead acted like investigators, we could overcome these psychological barriers.

The Foraging Choice

It's the decision between using your current position and exploring other options. When we are stressed, we will rather hold on to our current position and exploit it than searching for another opportunity.

However, if we looked at our current position in context, we would be more confident to try something else. It means understanding what you want to achieve in the future and how you take advantage of today.

Cultural Fluency

It's your behavior when the world unfolds according to the expected norm. When there's a cultural fit, we don't really think. We go with the flow. It is only when there is a disconnect that we start to hesitate.

If we start doing something different, like taking another route to work, we become more mindful. We can also ask "why?" or "how did it make you feel?" to prompt reflection and inquiry.



Cautionary Hope
Cautionary Hope

Research shows that during disasters, altruism and kindness happen more than greed and selfishness. To tide over the current crisis requires optimism along with caution.

Action and accompli...

People With High Hopes

People with high hope have a good number of difficult, challenging goals, and a good scorecard of achievement.

They have lower rates of anxiety and depression and greater happiness. They cope well with problems that consume the rest of the world.

Hope = Goals + Agency + Pathways

Instead of wishful thinking, we need to know what we want (specific goals), and have the drive and passion to go towards it (agency) and should be able to generate methods and devices to achieve what we want (pathways).

When we do a sum total of these three, we get hope: Hope= Goals + Agency + Pathways

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The right way to improve critical thinking
  • Create contexts that enable smart decisions: recognize what you’re actually doing when you’re reasoning about things and use this knowledge to try to avoid making common mistakes
  • ...
    Debating problems

    Many well-known problems of human reasoning disappear once you get a group of people together and let them talk about it.

    It's a good way to see your ideas refuted or let stronger ideas win the day. Although there’s a risk of group think and conformity pressures, if you take a large and diverse enough group, you’re more likely to be exposed to the best reasoning, which will tend to win out over the majority opinion.

    Critical thinking...

    ...doesn’t happen because you’ve studied some abstract logical form and come to valid deductions.

     It happens because you know enough about how the world works to rule out certain possibilities as being unlikely or impossible.

    Don't flow with the mainstream
    Don't flow with the mainstream

    Moving away from analogy = Removing iterative steps based on other or older experiences and biases and prejudices

    Keeping Yourself Motivated

    Determination. Do something that you have willingly chosen to do. Have a sense of autonomy and self-empowerment.

    Bring on companions. Shared memories and experiences are far stronger motivating factors.

    Be impatient. achieve your goals as quickly as you can.

    Stay curious. Do not just dream, but see the benefits for yourself.

    Avoidance. Make the most out of your time and win the final pay off.

    Applying the First Principles Thinking

    Identify the Problem

    What is something that I want to change in my life?

    Deconstruct the Problem

    What are the causes of my problems? How does it affect my life?

    Solve the Problem

    Start creating your new framework. You could think of multiple ways to achieve your goals easily.

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