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The American Constitution and the pursuit of that strange animal called 'happiness'

"We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness".

Some of us might not believe in the Creator part now, and some of us might find more and more difficult the idea that people are born equal when the conditions in which they are born are manifestly so unequal; and most of us would want to assume that by "men" Jefferson meant "people". 

And yet, as many people have noted, the pursuit of happiness – something not mentioned in the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, nor in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – seems peculiarly salient; it is the only one of the things listed that is a pursuit.

What exactly might it mean to have an "unalienable right" to "the pursuit of happiness", given that it is fairly obvious that the pursuit of happiness is so morally equivocal – could be, among other things, a threat to the society that promoted it? At first sight it seems to be a pretty good idea; if we are convinced of anything now we are convinced that we are pleasure-seeking creatures, who want to minimise the pain and frustration of our lives. Or at least a "we" could be consolidated around these beliefs. We are the creatures who, possibly unlike any other animal, pursue happiness. But the pursuit of happiness, like the pursuit of liberty – the utopian political projects of the 20th century – has legitimated some of the worst crimes of contemporary history across the political spectrum

It is not happiness we should be pursuing but seriousness

Many esteeemed thinker think poorly of happiness and of people who claimed to be happy or desired happiness above other gratifications in life . . . they feel that seriousness not happiness was the desirable condition of man.

All writers are crypto psychoanalysists

All great writers consciously or not employ the associative habits of the analyst’s couch, and understand that in certain ways the forward movement of a piece of writing is a kind of voyage of self-discovery, a watching of their mind at work from a psychoanalytic point of view, all narrators are unreliable narrators.

Even the oh so sensitive with  their  armoury of caveats in their  internal landscape,  are always in the distance, panting to keep up to that cherished goal
Literature, the love of it, risks religiosity

A people who conceive life to be the pursuit of happiness must be chronically unhappy,

We all want to be happy, we want our children to be happy, and there are countless books advising us how to achieve happiness. But is this really what we should be aiming for?

It is not surprising, in other words, that happiness has always had rather a mixed reception. No one in their right minds we might think, especially now, would be promoting unhappiness; and yet the promotion, the preferring of happiness – the assumption of a right to happiness – brings with it a lot of things we might not like. And the desire for happiness may reveal things about ourselves that we like even less. "A people who conceive life to be the pursuit of happiness must be chronically unhappy," the anthropologist Marshall Sahlinswrote

Our relation to happiness often betrays an unconscious desire for disillusionment. The wanting of it and the having of it can seem like two quite different things. And this is what makes wishing so interesting; because wishing is always too knowing. When we wish we are too convinced of our pleasures, too certain that we know what we want. The belief that we can arrange our happiness – as though happiness were akin to justice, which we can work towards – may be to misrecognise the very thing that concerns us.

Happiness is something essentially subjective; in the sense of being not only personal but idiosyncratic). We can be surprised by what makes us happy, and it will not necessarily be something that makes other people happy. This has significant consequences not least in the area of our lives that is sometimes conducive to happiness, sexuality.

Second, bad things can make us happy – and by bad things I mean things consensually agreed to be unacceptable. It clearly makes some people happy to live in a world without Jews, or homosexuals, or immigrants, and so on. There are also what we might call genuinely bad things, like seriously harming people and other animals, that g

Cruelty can make people happy. And we might then want to think about what problem, or rather problems, happiness is deemed to be the solution to. It is not, for example, incidental to our predicament that so many of our pleasures are, or are felt to be, forbidden (this is what Freud's account of the Oedipus complex is a way of thinking about). So put briefly – as every child and therefore every adult knows – being bad can make you happy. Happiness is subjective, it takes many forms, and one of its forms is immorality.

 And this makes happiness as a social or communal pursuit complicated. We have only to imagine what it would be for someone to propose that we had a right to sexual satisfaction to imagine both how we might contrive this and what terrible things might be done in its name.

Unhappiness can, after all, among many other things, be the registration of injustice or loss. At its best, a culture committed to the pursuit of happiness might be committed, say, to the diminishing of injus

What if  ihe individual really loves and gets pleasure from, the immorality of pleasures and the lure of transgression

 Yet To pursue pleasure is to be pursued by punishment. There is no one more moralistic, more coercive, than a hedonist.

For one is hounded by the ferocity of inner morality

Happiness depends on the distance between who we are and who we should be according to the dictates of our internalised morality. We are mostly unhappy because we are rarely as we should be. When the internal authorities are so implacable and sadistic — over-severe, abusive, humiliating, for one is hounded by the ferocity of inner morality

“How Many Democrats per Republican at UC Berkeley and Stanford?”

 Daniel Klein and Andrew Western developed evidence and analysis of political affiliations in academia. Specifically, they compare professor names in 23 departments at Berkeley and Stanford with compiled political registration information in seven surrounding counties. With their matching methodology,1 they find information on 1005 professors out of 1497 investigated. For these professors, party affiliation is overwhelmingly Democratic

Right, well no surprises there.

The wide ranging  evidence supports general claims of “ideological lopsidedness in academia”. Second, they argue that this lopsidedness has a significant effect on students since academia is a “major part of political culture and it has a deep influence on students understanding of the world and of themselves.

We all know they have been indoctrinated

So all those pundits, liberals, progressives, libertarians and media graduates are conveyed out on a left leaning conveyor belt to loud hailer their progressive causes.

These soi disant  (so called) educated types then from some indoctrinated moral height feel superior enough to call others 'deplorables'

The prevalence of progressive professors in institutions of higher education, some argue, has created an environment that prioritizes political correctness above truthfulness. A report by the California Association of Scholars, put together in 2012 for the UCLA, argues that the lack of balance between liberal and conservative viewpoints has contributed to a culture that espouses socio-cultural and political apologists, whilst marginalizing those with center-right viewpoints

Non affirmative art = the pipe that is not a pipe

This is called non affirmative art it is affirming that what you presume to see
is not really what is there.

Every theory on morals requires a meta or ascendant theory

morals, ethics are things of emphasis, like art, that oh so precious bourgeois pursuit... We seem to think, when speaking about moral matters, that our sentences are judged against an independent criterion; every theory, requires a meta or ascendant theory and there is no view from nowhere . Why, why if I express a belief in heterosexual marriage that it equates to gay-bashing, why do I have to accept that I am inherently racist because I am white, why, why?

Are your morals altruistic or just ceremonial?

...there are two kinds of morals, the altruistic and the ‘ceremonial’ and we kind of know that the altruistic is self serving; but that herd; the safe place crowd are into ceremonial morals,   of standing on Mount Moral and proclaiming, because that is all you can do with moral and ethics is proclaim. What if one i  not into proclaiming, rather into expounding, you know the scienctific route.

 I  would submit ...what we have in morals and ethics is a deplorable lack of empirical controls, a kind of methodological infirmity compared say with sciences. 

With morals and ethic just kind of get up on Mount Moral and, and say hey this is the right this is how we must behave...this is ceremonial morals.

When you are a failed artist of your own life - you seek out Psychoanalysis

Psychoanalysis is sought by people when they are feeling under-nourished; and this – is either because what they have been given wasn’t good enough or because there is something wrong with their capacity for transformation. In James’s terms, they are the failed artists of their own lives.

Kafka on swimming

I can swim like the others only I have a better memory than the others. I have not forgotten my former inability to swim. But since I have not forgotten it my ability to swim is of no avail and I cannot swim after all.

The world according to Adam,,,,your desire to be understood is a mistake

Adam Philips is a psychoanalyst practising in London

We should live our lives as gratifyingly as possible, the life we have. Otherwise, we are setting ourselves up for bitterness

Our lived lives might become a protracted mourning for, or an endless trauma about, the lives we were unable to live.
On Frustration,” in praise of that emotion. Frustration makes people real to us, he says, because, in our lives, they are usually the sources of it. Indeed, frustration makes reality itself real to us. 

Consider love:
There is a world of difference between erotic and romantic daydream and actually getting together with someone; getting together is a lot more work, and is never exactly what one was hoping for. So there are three consecutive frustrations: the frustration of need, the frustration of fantasized satisfaction not working, and the frustration of satisfaction in the real world being at odds with the wished-for, fantasized satisfaction. . . . And this is when it works.
: “On Not Getting It.” Here he claims that we’re better off not understanding ourselves, or others. “Perhaps understanding is one thing we can do with each other—something peculiarly bewitching and entrancing—but also something that can be limiting, regressive.” Indeed, it may be risky. “The illusion of knowing another person creates the possibility, the freedom, of not knowing them; to be free, by not knowing them, to do something else with them”—that is, mistreat them, on the basis of our presumed understanding.

But the error Phillips addresses most feelingly is our wish to be understood. This, he says, can be “our most violent form of nostalgia,” a revival of our wish, as infants, to have our mother arrive the instant we cry out from pain or hunger.  Winnicott’s good-enough mother as not just good enough but the best,ign up for our daily newsletter and get the best of The New Yorker in your in-box.
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In Phillips’s view, the quest for understanding is not just an insult to emotional health; it is an intellectual error. “We think we know more about the experiences we don’t have”—the unlived life—“than about the experiences that we do have.” In the candyland of our imagining, there is no check on “the authority of inexperience,
There is nothing we could know about ourselves or another that can solve the problem that other people actually exist, and we are utterly dependent on them. . . . There is nothing to know apart from this, and everything else we know, or claim to know, or are supposed to know, or not know, follows on from this.
. People, he writes, have no discernible connection to one another. But we can give solace to those we care about by allowing them just to be, without having to explain themselves. Rilke, in a letter, made the same point: “I hold this to be the highest task for a bond between two people: that each protects the solitude of the other.”
On the contrary, the therapy he invented “weans people from their compulsion to understand and be understood; it is an ‘after-education’ in not getting it. 

 psychoanalysis must always be conjectural:

 “Psychoanalysis is only just beginning to get the kind of public scrutiny, the intelligent hostility, it needs.” 

airy pensées, : “Most infidelities aren’t ugly, they just look as though they are.”
. .”  

His  lockstep logic, can daze you and make you stop worrying about the truth. “The only phobia is the phobia of self-knowledge”; “Religion is about the struggle not to be God”; “The mother is as vulnerable to her need for her baby as the baby is to his need for her”—

. He is a visiting professor in the English department of the University of York.

His love of paradox is clearly the product of a hatred of cant let alone from common sense.  such as his claim that we should stop trying to change our lives. I have never known a person who, having quit a job or initiated a divorce, felt, afterward, that he had made a mistake. But Phillips is attacking an idée réçue, and you have to thank him for it. Likewise his notion that we should give up trying to understand ourselves. It sounds crazy, but don’t we all admire people who, instead of constantly asking themselves why they’re doing such-and-such, just get on with it?

”: the beady eye, the knowing better than you do what your thoughts are, the readiness, if you object, to say that this is just your defenses speaking. I. He sees certainty, and the questioning that leads to it, as a wall separating us . 

So how did those high morals of yours originate?

For Nietzsche, as Foucault reads him, history is the story of petty malice, of violently imposed interpretations, of vicious intentions, or high-sounding stories masking the lowest of motives. To the Nietzschean genealogist the foundation of morality, at least since Plato, is not to be found in ideal truthIt is found in pudenda origo: 'lowly origins,' catty fights, minor crudeness, ceaseless and nasty clashing of wills. The story of history is one of accidents, dispersion, chance events, lies – not the lofty development of Truth or the concrete embodiment of Freedom. For Nietzsche, the genealogist par excellence, the history of truth is the history of error and arbitrariness: 'The faith on which our belief in science rests is still a metaphysical faith . . . The Christian faith, which was also the faith of Plato, that God is Truth and truth divine . . . . But what if this equation becomes less and less credible, if the only things that may still be viewed as divine are error, blindness and lies?

To be able to speak without censorship by others - ah...what freedom.

Doubts and vulnerabilities are rare in culture that encourages invulnerability.

Doubts and vulnerabilities are rare in culture that encourages invulnerability.

Consumer Capitalism and Porn

The problem is that consumer capitalism exploits this because what it does by pretending to offer choice is that it pre-empts you finding out what you want. 

It's like the way pornography steals people's dreams. It gives you pictures of sex scenarios and so, unlike more imaginative forms of literature, stops you creating your dreams. Instead of having your own sexual fantasies the porn industry does it.

If you watch the news and remain happy then there is something wrong with you

Anybody in this culture who watches the news and can be happy - then, there's something wrong with them.

"It's very simple. The reason that there are so many depressed people is that life is so depressing for many people. It's not a mystery. There is a presumption that there is a weakness in the people who are depressed or a weakness on the part of scientific research and one of these two groups has got to pull its socks up. Scientists have got to get better and find us a drug and the depressed have got to stop malingering. The ethos is: 'Actually life is wonderful, great - get out there!' That's totally unrealistic and it's bound to fail."

Sanity involves learning to enjoy conflict, and giving up on all myths of harmony, consistency and redemption."

"Darwinian psychoanalysis would involve helping you to adapt, find a niche and enable you to reproduce," he says. "Freudian psychoanalysis suggests that there is something over and above this. These are parts of ourselves - that don't want to live, that hate our children, that want ourselves to fail. Freud is saying there is something strange about humans: they are recalcitrant to what is supposed to be their project. That seems to me to be persuasive." It also, you might notice, suggests humans have a design flaw. In the new essay collection, Side Effects, he offers the Phillipsian paradox that desire is unpredictable as well as insatiable. One might infer that an ironical appreciation of the mystifying human psyche is the best that sane people can manage.

 "What lures us into the future is the renewal of appetite. Having noticed that one's appetite is what vitalises one - Freud talks about this a bit - there could easily be the desire to frustrate oneself. The project might be to keep appetite alive. The problem is that consumer capitalism exploits this because what it does by pretending to offer choice is that it pre-empts you finding out what you want. It's like the way pornography steals people's dreams. It gives you pictures of sex scenarios and so, unlike more imaginative forms of literature, stops you creating your dreams. Instead of having your own sexual fantasies the porn industry does it.

."oubts and vulnerabilities, which is rare in culture that encourages invulnerability.#

No! To be able to speak without censorship is very pleasurable potentially. Wh
So we connive with capitalism until we can't bear it any more and wind up seeking an appointment with Phillips.
This is not like buying a fridge,"
"happiness centres" administering courses of cognitive behavioural therapy are necessary in order to cheer us up and get Britons back to work.

but really that psychoanalysis is against magic. Ideally it enables you to realise why you're prone to believe in magic and why you shouldn't, because to believe in magic is to attack your own intelligence."

Let's not be naive - life is NOT wonderful

The reason that there are so many depressed people is that life is so depressing for many people. It's not a mystery. 

There is a presumption that there is a weakness in the people who are depressed or a weakness on the part of scientific research and one of these two groups has got to pull its socks up. 

ientists have got to get better and find us a drug and the depressed have got to stop malingering. 

The ethos is: 'Actually life is wonderful, great - get out there!' That's totally unrealistic and it's bound to fail."

Darwinian psychoanalysis and Freudian psychoanalysis

Darwinian psychoanalysis would involve helping you to adapt, find a niche and enable you to reproduce," he says. "Freudian psychoanalysis suggests that there is something over and above this. These are parts of ourselves - that don't want to live, that hate our children, that want ourselves to fail. Freud is saying there is something strange about humans: they are recalcitrant to what is supposed to be their project. That seems to me to be persuasive." It also, you might notice, suggests humans have a design flaw. 

paradox that desire is unpredictable as well as insatiable. One might infer that an ironical appreciation of the mystifying human psyche is the best that sane people can manage.

Achieving your ideal can be just another excuse for self punishment

You have this goal, this attainment an ideal; however any ideal striving trying to attain it can become another excuse for punishment. 

Sanity involves learning to enjoy conflict, and giving up on all myths of harmony, consistency and redemption."

Free will ? But can you choose your parents

 Most philosophers suppose that the concept of free will is very closely connected to the concept of moral responsibility. Acting with free will, on such views, is just to satisfy the metaphysical requirement on being responsible for one's action. (

 Briefly, determinism is the view that the history of the universe is fixed: everything that happens is necessitated by what has already gone before, in such a way that nothing can happen otherwise than it does. 

According to compatibilists, freedom is compatible with determinism because freedom is essentially just a matter of not being constrained or hindered in certain ways when one acts or chooses. Suppose one is a normal adult human being in normal circumstances. Then one is able to act and choose freely. 

No one is holding a gun to one’s head. One is not being threatened. One is not drugged, or in chains, (but one is always in relative chains) or subject to a psychological compulsion or a post-hypnotic command. One is therefore wholly free to choose and act even if one’s whole physical and psychological makeup is entirely determined by things for which one is in no way ultimately responsible—starting with one’s genetic inheritance and early upbringing.

But can you choose your parents, your resulting environment, your
educational chances, your genetic makeup, you being prone to heredity diseease
N0, NO, NO well you have free will?

All our acts, even a smile can be traced back to a determining source and that determining source can be traced back to a d..... force ad infinitum

We are all tech zombies now -

Image result for group on smartphones

We have been digitally lobotomized by an advertising company

Well done, human beings.

I see a mysterious stranger coning into your life. Does he have money?

Image result for google images palm reader tea leaves
Forer effect or Barnum effectThe observation that individuals will give high accuracy ratings to descriptions of their personality that supposedly are tailored specifically for them, but are in fact vague and general enough to apply to a wide range of people. This effect can provide a partial explanation for the widespread acceptance of some beliefs and practices, such as astrology, fortune telling, graphology, and some types of personality tests.

Are you a biased person?

Implicit bias” is a term of referring to relatively unconscious and relatively automatic features of prejudiced judgment and social behavior

to a reasonable approximation, to have an innate or habitual propensity to respond to an apparent stimulus in a particular way. It is to be in a mental state that is… associative, automatic and arational

Effectively you knee jerk in your judgment ergo arational and prejudiced

Cognitive biases can be organized into four categories:
 biases that arise from too much information, 
not enough meaning, 
he need to act quickly, 
and the limits of memory

Decision-making, belief, and behavioral biases[edit]

Many of these biases affect belief formation, business and economic decisions, and human behavior in general. They arise as a replicable result to a specific condition. When confronted with a specific situation, the deviation from what is normally expected can be characterized by:
Ambiguity effectThe tendency to avoid options for which missing information makes the probability seem "unknown".[10]
Anchoring or focalismThe tendency to rely too heavily, or "anchor", on one trait or piece of information when making decisions (usually the first piece of information acquired on that subject)[11][12]
Anthropocentric thinkingThe tendency to use human analogies as a basis for reasoning about other, less familiar, biological phenomena.[13]
Anthropomorphism or personificationThe tendency to characterize animals, objects, and abstract concepts as possessing human-like traits, emotions, and intentions.[14]
Attentional biasThe tendency of our perception to be affected by our recurring thoughts.[15]
Automation biasThe tendency to depend excessively on automated systems which can lead to erroneous automated information overriding correct decisions.[16]
Availability heuristicThe tendency to overestimate the likelihood of events with greater "availability" in memory, which can be influenced by how recent the memories are or how unusual or emotionally charged they may be.[17]
Availability cascadeA self-reinforcing process in which a collective belief gains more and more plausibility through its increasing repetition in public discourse (or "repeat something long enough and it will become true").[18]
Backfire effectThe reaction to disconfirming evidence by strengthening one's previous beliefs.[19]cf. Continued influence effect.
Bandwagon effectThe tendency to do (or believe) things because many other people do (or believe) the same. Related to groupthink and herd behavior.[20]
Base rate fallacy or Base rate neglectThe tendency to ignore base rate information (generic, general information) and focus on specific information (information only pertaining to a certain case).[21]
Belief biasAn effect where someone's evaluation of the logical strength of an argument is biased by the believability of the conclusion.[22]
Ben Franklin effectA person who has performed a favor for someone is more likely to do another favor for that person than they would be if they had received a favor from that person.
Berkson's paradoxThe tendency to misinterpret statistical experiments involving conditional probabilities.
Bias blind spotThe tendency to see oneself as less biased than other people, or to be able to identify more cognitive biases in others than in oneself.[23]
Cheerleader effectThe tendency for people to appear more attractive in a group than in isolation.[24]
Choice-supportive biasThe tendency to remember one's choices as better than they actually were.[25]
Clustering illusionThe tendency to overestimate the importance of small runs, streaks, or clusters in large samples of random data (that is, seeing phantom patterns).[12]
Confirmation biasThe tendency to search for, interpret, focus on and remember information in a way that confirms one's preconceptions.[26]
Congruence biasThe tendency to test hypotheses exclusively through direct testing, instead of testing possible alternative hypotheses.[12]
Conjunction fallacyThe tendency to assume that specific conditions are more probable than general ones.[27]
Conservatism (belief revision)The tendency to revise one's belief insufficiently when presented with new evidence.[5][28][29]
Continued influence effectThe tendency to believe previously learned misinformation even after it has been corrected. Misinformation can still influence inferences one generates after a correction has occurred.[30] cf. Backfire effect
Contrast effectThe enhancement or reduction of a certain perception's stimuli when compared with a recently observed, contrasting object.[31]
Courtesy biasThe tendency to give an opinion that is more socially correct than one's true opinion, so as to avoid offending anyone.[32]
Curse of knowledgeWhen better-informed people find it extremely difficult to think about problems from the perspective of lesser-informed people.[33]
DeclinismThe belief that a society or institution is tending towards decline. Particularly, it is the predisposition to view the past favourably (rosy retrospection) and future negatively.[34]
Decoy effectPreferences for either option A or B change in favor of option B when option C is presented, which is similar to option B but in no way better.
Denomination effectThe tendency to spend more money when it is denominated in small amounts (e.g., coins) rather than large amounts (e.g., bills).[35]
Disposition effectThe tendency to sell an asset that has accumulated in value and resist selling an asset that has declined in value.
Distinction biasThe tendency to view two options as more dissimilar when evaluating them simultaneously than when evaluating them separately.[36]
Dunning–Kruger effectThe tendency for unskilled individuals to overestimate their own ability and the tendency for experts to underestimate their own ability.[37]
Duration neglectThe neglect of the duration of an episode in determining its value
Empathy gapThe tendency to underestimate the influence or strength of feelings, in either oneself or others.
Endowment effectThe tendency for people to demand much more to give up an object than they would be willing to pay to acquire it.[38]
Exaggerated expectationBased on the estimates,[clarification needed] real-world evidence turns out to be less extreme than our expectations (conditionally inverse of the conservatism bias).[unreliable source?][5][39]
Experimenter's or expectation biasThe tendency for experimenters to believe, certify, and publish data that agree with their expectations for the outcome of an experiment, and to disbelieve, discard, or downgrade the corresponding weightings for data that appear to conflict with those expectations.[40]
Focusing effectThe tendency to place too much importance on one aspect of an event.[41]
Forer effect or Barnum effectThe observation that individuals will give high accuracy ratings to descriptions of their personality that supposedly are tailored specifically for them, but are in fact vague and general enough to apply to a wide range of people. This effect can provide a partial explanation for the widespread acceptance of some beliefs and practices, such as astrology, fortune telling, graphology, and some types of personality tests.
Framing effectDrawing different conclusions from the same information, depending on how that information is presented
Frequency illusionThe illusion in which a word, a name, or other thing that has recently come to one's attention suddenly seems to appear with improbable frequency shortly afterwards (not to be confused with the recency illusion or selection bias).[42] This illusion may explain some examples of the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon, when someone repeatedly notices a newly learned word or phrase shortly after learning it.
Functional fixednessLimits a person to using an object only in the way it is traditionally used.
Gambler's fallacyThe tendency to think that future probabilities are altered by past events, when in reality they are unchanged. The fallacy arises from an erroneous conceptualization of the law of large numbers. For example, "I've flipped heads with this coin five times consecutively, so the chance of tails coming out on the sixth flip is much greater than heads."
Hard–easy effectBased on a specific level of task difficulty, the confidence in judgments is too conservative and not extreme enough[5][43][44][45]
Hindsight biasSometimes called the "I-knew-it-all-along" effect, the tendency to see past events as being predictable[46] at the time those events happened.
Hostile attribution biasThe "hostile attribution bias" is the tendency to interpret others' behaviors as having hostile intent, even when the behavior is ambiguous or benign.
Hot-hand fallacyThe "hot-hand fallacy" (also known as the "hot hand phenomenon" or "hot hand") is the fallacious belief that a person who has experienced success with a random event has a greater chance of further success in additional attempts.
Hyperbolic discountingDiscounting is the tendency for people to have a stronger preference for more immediate payoffs relative to later payoffs. Hyperbolic discounting leads to choices that are inconsistent over time – people make choices today that their future selves would prefer not to have made, despite using the same reasoning.[47] Also known as current moment bias, present-bias, and related to Dynamic inconsistency.
Identifiable victim effectThe tendency to respond more strongly to a single identified person at risk than to a large group of people at risk.[48]
IKEA effectThe tendency for people to place a disproportionately high value on objects that they partially assembled themselves, such as furniture from IKEA, regardless of the quality of the end result.
Illusion of controlThe tendency to overestimate one's degree of influence over other external events.[49]
Illusion of validityBelief that furtherly acquired information generates additional relevant data for predictions, even when it evidently does not.[50]
Illusory correlationInaccurately perceiving a relationship between two unrelated events.[51][52]
Illusory truth effectA tendency to believe that a statement is true if it is easier to process, or if it has been stated multiple times, regardless of its actual veracity. These are specific cases of truthiness.
Impact biasThe tendency to overestimate the length or the intensity of the impact of future feeling states.[53]
Information biasThe tendency to seek information even when it cannot affect action.[54]
Insensitivity to sample sizeThe tendency to under-expect variation in small samples.
Irrational escalationThe phenomenon where people justify increased investment in a decision, based on the cumulative prior investment, despite new evidence suggesting that the decision was probably wrong. Also known as the sunk cost fallacy.
Law of the instrumentAn over-reliance on a familiar tool or methods, ignoring or under-valuing alternative approaches. "If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail."
Less-is-better effectThe tendency to prefer a smaller set to a larger set judged separately, but not jointly.
Look-elsewhere effectAn apparently statistically significant observation may have actually arisen by chance because of the size of the parameter space to be searched.
Loss aversionThe disutility of giving up an object is greater than the utility associated with acquiring it.[55] (see also Sunk cost effects and endowment effect).
Mere exposure effectThe tendency to express undue liking for things merely because of familiarity with them.[56]
Money illusionThe tendency to concentrate on the nominal value (face value) of money rather than its value in terms of purchasing power.[57]
Moral credential effectThe tendency of a track record of non-prejudice to increase subsequent prejudice.
Negativity bias or Negativity effectPsychological phenomenon by which humans have a greater recall of unpleasant memories compared with positive memories.[58][59] (see also actor-observer bias, group attribution error, positivity effect, and negativity effect).[60]
Neglect of probabilityThe tendency to completely disregard probability when making a decision under uncertainty.[61]
Normalcy biasThe refusal to plan for, or react to, a disaster which has never happened before.
Not invented hereAversion to contact with or use of products, research, standards, or knowledge developed outside a group. Related to IKEA effect.
Observer-expectancy effectWhen a researcher expects a given result and therefore unconsciously manipulates an experiment or misinterprets data in order to find it (see also subject-expectancy effect).
Omission biasThe tendency to judge harmful actions as worse, or less moral, than equally harmful omissions (inactions).[62]
Optimism biasThe tendency to be over-optimistic, overestimating favorable and pleasing outcomes (see also wishful thinkingvalence effectpositive outcome bias).[63][64]
Ostrich effectIgnoring an obvious (negative) situation.
Outcome biasThe tendency to judge a decision by its eventual outcome instead of based on the quality of the decision at the time it was made.
Overconfidence effectExcessive confidence in one's own answers to questions. For example, for certain types of questions, answers that people rate as "99% certain" turn out to be wrong 40% of the time.[5][65][66][67]
PareidoliaA vague and random stimulus (often an image or sound) is perceived as significant, e.g., seeing images of animals or faces in clouds, the man in the moon, and hearing non-existent hidden messages on records played in reverse.
Pessimism biasThe tendency for some people, especially those suffering from depression, to overestimate the likelihood of negative things happening to them.
Planning fallacyThe tendency to underestimate task-completion times.[53]
Post-purchase rationalizationThe tendency to persuade oneself through rational argument that a purchase was good value.
Pro-innovation biasThe tendency to have an excessive optimism towards an invention or innovation's usefulness throughout society, while often failing to identify its limitations and weaknesses.
Projection biasThe tendency to overestimate how much our future selves share one's current preferences, thoughts and values, thus leading to sub-optimal choices.[68][69][59]
Pseudocertainty effectThe tendency to make risk-averse choices if the expected outcome is positive, but make risk-seeking choices to avoid negative outcomes.[70]
ReactanceThe urge to do the opposite of what someone wants you to do out of a need to resist a perceived attempt to constrain your freedom of choice (see also Reverse psychology).
Reactive devaluationDevaluing proposals only because they purportedly originated with an adversary.
Recency illusionThe illusion that a word or language usage is a recent innovation when it is in fact long-established (see also frequency illusion).
Regressive biasA certain state of mind wherein high values and high likelihoods are overestimated while low values and low likelihoods are underestimated.[5][71][72][unreliable source?]
Restraint biasThe tendency to overestimate one's ability to show restraint in the face of temptation.
Rhyme as reason effectRhyming statements are perceived as more truthful. A famous example being used in the O.J Simpson trial with the defense's use of the phrase "If the gloves don't fit, then you must acquit."
Risk compensation / Peltzman effectThe tendency to take greater risks when perceived safety increases.
Selective perceptionThe tendency for expectations to affect perception.
Semmelweis reflexThe tendency to reject new evidence that contradicts a paradigm.[29]
Sexual overperception bias / sexual underperception biasThe tendency to over-/underestimate sexual interest of another person in oneself.
Social comparison biasThe tendency, when making decisions, to favour potential candidates who don't compete with one's own particular strengths.[73]
Social desirability biasThe tendency to over-report socially desirable characteristics or behaviours in oneself and under-report socially undesirable characteristics or behaviours.[74]
Status quo biasThe tendency to like things to stay relatively the same (see also loss aversionendowment effect, and system justification).[75][76]
StereotypingExpecting a member of a group to have certain characteristics without having actual information about that individual.
Subadditivity effectThe tendency to judge probability of the whole to be less than the probabilities of the parts.[77]
Subjective validationPerception that something is true if a subject's belief demands it to be true. Also assigns perceived connections between coincidences.
SurrogationLosing sight of the strategic construct that a measure is intended to represent, and subsequently acting as though the measure is the construct of interest.
Survivorship biasConcentrating on the people or things that "survived" some process and inadvertently overlooking those that didn't because of their lack of visibility.
Time-saving biasUnderestimations of the time that could be saved (or lost) when increasing (or decreasing) from a relatively low speed and overestimations of the time that could be saved (or lost) when increasing (or decreasing) from a relatively high speed.
Third-person effectBelief that mass communicated media messages have a greater effect on others than on themselves.
Triviality / Parkinson's Law ofThe tendency to give disproportionate weight to trivial issues. Also known as bikeshedding, this bias explains why an organization may avoid specialized or complex subjects, such as the design of a nuclear reactor, and instead focus on something easy to grasp or rewarding to the average participant, such as the design of an adjacent bike shed.[78]
Unit biasThe tendency to want to finish a given unit of a task or an item. Strong effects on the consumption of food in particular.[79]
Weber–Fechner lawDifficulty in comparing small differences in large quantities.
Well travelled road effectUnderestimation of the duration taken to traverse oft-traveled routes and overestimation of the duration taken to traverse less familiar routes.
"Women are wonderful" effectA tendency to associate more positive attributes with women than with men.
Zero-risk biasPreference for reducing a small risk to zero over a greater reduction in a larger risk.
Zero-sum biasA bias whereby a situation is incorrectly perceived to be like a zero-sum game (i.e., one person gains at the expense of another).

Social biases[edit]

Most of these biases are labeled as attributional biases.
Actor-observer biasThe tendency for explanations of other individuals' behaviors to overemphasize the influence of their personality and underemphasize the influence of their situation (see also Fundamental attribution error), and for explanations of one's own behaviors to do the opposite (that is, to overemphasize the influence of our situation and underemphasize the influence of our own personality).
Authority biasThe tendency to attribute greater accuracy to the opinion of an authority figure (unrelated to its content) and be more influenced by that opinion.[80]
Defensive attribution hypothesisAttributing more blame to a harm-doer as the outcome becomes more severe or as personal or situational similarity to the victim increases.
Egocentric biasOccurs when people claim more responsibility for themselves for the results of a joint action than an outside observer would credit them with.
Extrinsic incentives biasAn exception to the fundamental attribution error, when people view others as having (situational) extrinsic motivations and (dispositional) intrinsic motivations for oneself
False consensus effectThe tendency for people to overestimate the degree to which others agree with them.[81]
Forer effect (aka Barnum effect)The tendency to give high accuracy ratings to descriptions of their personality that supposedly are tailored specifically for them, but are in fact vague and general enough to apply to a wide range of people. For example, horoscopes.
Fundamental attribution errorThe tendency for people to over-emphasize personality-based explanations for behaviors observed in others while under-emphasizing the role and power of situational influences on the same behavior[59] (see also actor-observer bias, group attribution error, positivity effect, and negativity effect).[60]
Group attribution errorThe biased belief that the characteristics of an individual group member are reflective of the group as a whole or the tendency to assume that group decision outcomes reflect the preferences of group members, even when information is available that clearly suggests otherwise.
Halo effectThe tendency for a person's positive or negative traits to "spill over" from one personality area to another in others' perceptions of them (see also physical attractiveness stereotype).[82]
Illusion of asymmetric insightPeople perceive their knowledge of their peers to surpass their peers' knowledge of them.[83]
Illusion of external agencyWhen people view self-generated preferences as instead being caused by insightful, effective and benevolent agents
Illusion of transparencyPeople overestimate others' ability to know them, and they also overestimate their ability to know others.
Illusory superiorityOverestimating one's desirable qualities, and underestimating undesirable qualities, relative to other people. (Also known as "Lake Wobegon effect", "better-than-average effect", or "superiority bias".)[84]
Ingroup biasThe tendency for people to give preferential treatment to others they perceive to be members of their own groups.
Just-world hypothesisThe tendency for people to want to believe that the world is fundamentally just, causing them to rationalize an otherwise inexplicable injustice as deserved by the victim(s).
Moral luckThe tendency for people to ascribe greater or lesser moral standing based on the outcome of an event.
Naïve cynicismExpecting more egocentric bias in others than in oneself.
Naïve realismThe belief that we see reality as it really is – objectively and without bias; that the facts are plain for all to see; that rational people will agree with us; and that those who don't are either uninformed, lazy, irrational, or biased.
Outgroup homogeneity biasIndividuals see members of their own group as being relatively more varied than members of other groups.[85]
Self-serving biasThe tendency to claim more responsibility for successes than failures. It may also manifest itself as a tendency for people to evaluate ambiguous information in a way beneficial to their interests (see also group-serving bias).[86]
Shared information biasKnown as the tendency for group members to spend more time and energy discussing information that all members are already familiar with (i.e., shared information), and less time and energy discussing information that only some members are aware of (i.e., unshared information).[87]
Sociability bias of languageThe disproportionally higher representation of words related to social interactions, in comparison to words related to physical or mental aspects of behavior, in most languages. This bias attributed to nature of language as a tool facilitating human interactions. When verbal descriptors of human behavior are used as a source of information, sociability bias of such descriptors emerges in factor-analytic studies as a factor related to pro-social behavior (for example, of Extraversion factor in the Big Five personality traits [59]
System justificationThe tendency to defend and bolster the status quo. Existing social, economic, and political arrangements tend to be preferred, and alternatives disparaged, sometimes even at the expense of individual and collective self-interest. (See also status quo bias.)
Trait ascription biasThe tendency for people to view themselves as relatively variable in terms of personality, behavior, and mood while viewing others as much more predictable.
Ultimate attribution errorSimilar to the fundamental attribution error, in this error a person is likely to make an internal attribution to an entire group instead of the individuals within the group.
Worse-than-average effectA tendency to believe ourselves to be worse than others at tasks which are difficult.[88]

Memory errors and biases[edit]

In psychology and cognitive science, a memory bias is a cognitive bias that either enhances or impairs the recall of a memory (either the chances that the memory will be recalled at all, or the amount of time it takes for it to be recalled, or both), or that alters the content of a reported memory. There are many types of memory bias, including:
Bizarreness effectBizarre material is better remembered than common material.
Choice-supportive biasIn a self-justifying manner retroactively ascribing one's choices to be more informed than they were when they were made.
Change biasAfter an investment of effort in producing change, remembering one's past performance as more difficult than it actually was[89][unreliable source?]
Childhood amnesiaThe retention of few memories from before the age of four.
Conservatism or Regressive biasTendency to remember high values and high likelihoods/probabilities/frequencies as lower than they actually were and low ones as higher than they actually were. Based on the evidence, memories are not extreme enough[71][72]
Consistency biasIncorrectly remembering one's past attitudes and behaviour as resembling present attitudes and behaviour.[90]
Context effectThat cognition and memory are dependent on context, such that out-of-context memories are more difficult to retrieve than in-context memories (e.g., recall time and accuracy for a work-related memory will be lower at home, and vice versa)
Cross-race effectThe tendency for people of one race to have difficulty identifying members of a race other than their own.
CryptomnesiaA form of misattribution where a memory is mistaken for imagination, because there is no subjective experience of it being a memory.[89]
Egocentric biasRecalling the past in a self-serving manner, e.g., remembering one's exam grades as being better than they were, or remembering a caught fish as bigger than it really was.
Fading affect biasA bias in which the emotion associated with unpleasant memories fades more quickly than the emotion associated with positive events.[91]
False memoryA form of misattribution where imagination is mistaken for a memory.
Generation effect (Self-generation effect)That self-generated information is remembered best. For instance, people are better able to recall memories of statements that they have generated than similar statements generated by others.
Google effectThe tendency to forget information that can be found readily online by using Internet search engines.
Hindsight biasThe inclination to see past events as being more predictable than they actually were; also called the "I-knew-it-all-along" effect.
Humor effectThat humorous items are more easily remembered than non-humorous ones, which might be explained by the distinctiveness of humor, the increased cognitive processing time to understand the humor, or the emotional arousal caused by the humor.[92]
Illusion of truth effectThat people are more likely to identify as true statements those they have previously heard (even if they cannot consciously remember having heard them), regardless of the actual validity of the statement. In other words, a person is more likely to believe a familiar statement than an unfamiliar one.
Illusory correlationInaccurately remembering a relationship between two events.[5][52]
Lag effectThe phenomenon whereby learning is greater when studying is spread out over time, as opposed to studying the same amount of time in a single session. See also spacing effect.
Leveling and sharpeningMemory distortions introduced by the loss of details in a recollection over time, often concurrent with sharpening or selective recollection of certain details that take on exaggerated significance in relation to the details or aspects of the experience lost through leveling. Both biases may be reinforced over time, and by repeated recollection or re-telling of a memory.[93]
Levels-of-processing effectThat different methods of encoding information into memory have different levels of effectiveness.[94]
List-length effectA smaller percentage of items are remembered in a longer list, but as the length of the list increases, the absolute number of items remembered increases as well. For example, consider a list of 30 items ("L30") and a list of 100 items ("L100"). An individual may remember 15 items from L30, or 50%, whereas the individual may remember 40 items from L100, or 40%. Although the percent of L30 items remembered (50%) is greater than the percent of L100 (40%), more L100 items (40) are remembered than L30 items (15). [95][further explanation needed]
Misinformation effectMemory becoming less accurate because of interference from post-event information.[96]
Modality effectThat memory recall is higher for the last items of a list when the list items were received via speech than when they were received through writing.
Mood-congruent memory biasThe improved recall of information congruent with one's current mood.
Next-in-line effectThat a person in a group has diminished recall for the words of others who spoke immediately before himself, if they take turns speaking.[97]
Part-list cueing effectThat being shown some items from a list and later retrieving one item causes it to become harder to retrieve the other items.[98]
Peak-end ruleThat people seem to perceive not the sum of an experience but the average of how it was at its peak (e.g., pleasant or unpleasant) and how it ended.
PersistenceThe unwanted recurrence of memories of a traumatic event.[citation needed]
Picture superiority effectThe notion that concepts that are learned by viewing pictures are more easily and frequently recalled than are concepts that are learned by viewing their written word form counterparts.[99][100][101][102][103][104]
Positivity effectThat older adults favor positive over negative information in their memories.
Primacy effectrecency effect & serial position effectThat items near the end of a sequence are the easiest to recall, followed by the items at the beginning of a sequence; items in the middle are the least likely to be remembered.[105]
Processing difficulty effectThat information that takes longer to read and is thought about more (processed with more difficulty) is more easily remembered.[106]
Reminiscence bumpThe recalling of more personal events from adolescence and early adulthood than personal events from other lifetime periods[107]
Rosy retrospectionThe remembering of the past as having been better than it really was.
Self-relevance effectThat memories relating to the self are better recalled than similar information relating to others.
Source confusionConfusing episodic memories with other information, creating distorted memories.[108]
Spacing effectThat information is better recalled if exposure to it is repeated over a long span of time rather than a short one.
Spotlight effectThe tendency to overestimate the amount that other people notice your appearance or behavior.
Stereotypical biasMemory distorted towards stereotypes (e.g., racial or gender), e.g., "black-sounding" names being misremembered as names of criminals.[89][unreliable source?]
Suffix effectDiminishment of the recency effect because a sound item is appended to the list that the subject is not required to recall.[109][110]
SuggestibilityA form of misattribution where ideas suggested by a questioner are mistaken for memory.
Telescoping effectThe tendency to displace recent events backward in time and remote events forward in time, so that recent events appear more remote, and remote events, more recent.
Testing effectThe fact that you more easily remember information you have read by rewriting it instead of rereading it.[111]
Tip of the tonguephenomenonWhen a subject is able to recall parts of an item, or related information, but is frustratingly unable to recall the whole item. This is thought to be an instance of "blocking" where multiple similar memories are being recalled and interfere with each other.[89]
Travis SyndromeOverestimating the significance of the present.[112] It is related to the enlightenment Idea of Progress and chronological snobbery with possibly an appeal to noveltylogical fallacy being part of the bias.
Verbatim effectThat the "gist" of what someone has said is better remembered than the verbatim wording.[113] This is because memories are representations, not exact copies.
Von Restorff effectThat an item that sticks out is more likely to be remembered than other items[114]
Zeigarnik effectThat uncompleted or interrupted tasks are remembered better than completed ones.

Common theoretical causes of some cognitive biases[edit]

A 2012 Psychological Bulletin article suggested that at least eight seemingly unrelated biases can be produced by the same information-theoretic generative mechanism that assumes noisy information processing during storage and retrieval of information in human memory.[5]

Individual differences in decision making biases[edit]

People do appear to have stable individual differences in their susceptibility to decision biases such as overconfidencetemporal discounting, and bias blind spot.[117] That said, these stable levels of bias within individuals are possible to change. Participants in experiments who watched training videos and played debiasing games showed medium to large reductions both immediately and up to three months later in the extent to which they exhibited susceptibility to six cognitive biases: anchoring, bias blind spot, confirmation biasfundamental attribution errorprojection bias, and representativeness.[118]


Debiasing is the reduction of biases in judgment and decision making through incentives, nudges, and training. Cognitive bias mitigation and cognitive bias modification are forms of debiasing specifically applicable to cognitive biases and their effects.