Saturday, November 5, 2016

More on the Dunning-Kruger Effect

http://arstechnica.com/science/2016/11/revisiting-why-incompetents-think-theyre-awesome/
Screenshot of standout quote from the Ars article.


A nice summary  

of this CranioRectal Inversion phenomenon 

at Ars Technica:







Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Peace in the Midst of the Storm


http://survivingchurch.org/



 Please enjoy the reflections of Stephen Parsons as he visits the Island of Crete. (The post in its entirety struck me as so lovely and deep using a powerful analogy that I have not even noted here, it is well worth the visit to Surviving Church to read it.):



So many Christians visualise the work of the Spirit as being a bit like a blinding revelation of what we should do in life. But it seems to me that the Holy Spirit for most of us is experienced a bit like a slight nudge or touch. [. . .] The important thing is to believe that such encouragement and prompting is on offer as long as we are looking for it.

In my further ruminating about the way the we are prompted or nudged by the Holy Spirit through fairly insignificant events... I thought about the task that we have to minister to each other. All of us can be part of the way that the Spirit speaks to other people. Helping other people to hear the Spirit of God is of course an important part of the work of ordained ministry. But of course any Christian can be involved in this kind of service.

For myself the most important principle that people need to hear (I don’t want to call it advice as that sounds prescriptive!) is that what God wants from them is first of all to be themselves. Each person needs to be in touch with their inner longings, their passion and their uniqueness. So often, even in a church context, individuals have taken on board a life agenda set for them by others. 

The sensitive and pastoral counsellor will always be wanting to help an individual to strip off layers of artificiality and falsity which impede them in their task of authentic living. We all have the task of traveling the journey in order to grow spiritually as well as become the person that God wants to be. A piece of wisdom that was given to my wife and me many years ago is one that applies to anyone. The words were: Be yourself so that God can be himself through you...

I hope that the reader does take the opportunity to visit Surviving Church to read the whole post. I know that Stephen would love to hear feedback, too. 


Stephen Parsons is a retired Anglican priest living near Carlisle, England. His interest in cultic and high demand religious groups goes back to the 80s when he researched material for a book on Christian healing. He realised that among practitioners of spiritual healing there were some whose healing practice was abusive and exploited the vulnerability of the sick. This led eventually to a study of abusive Christianity, Ungodly Fear, which collected and interpreted stories of individuals who had joined certain fundamentalist Christian groups in the UK but suffered in the encounter. Since the book appeared in 2000, and especially since retirement in 2010, he has been reading widely in the areas of social psychology and psychoanalytical theory to understand this phenomenon of abuse within certain churches. He runs a blog, www.survivingchurch.org which attempts to set out the fruits of this study and reflection. He has the hope that it will be of use to those coming to terms with an encounter with a religious institution or church that exploits and abuses.
Other books by Stephen Parsons:



(After Hurricane Matthew and the storm of the POTUS election,
I needed a bit of a break from blogging.
A few more posts regarding cognitive biases
that often play into spiritual abuse
still wait in the wings.)



Saturday, October 1, 2016

Worthy of Repeating

....in a quote pic (from yesterday's post).



For Further Reading until the next post:

Friday, September 30, 2016

Faith, Feedback and False Consensus


Just a reminder that the purpose of this discussion aims at stimulating thought and self awareness as tools to help those in recovery from trauma learn how to make safer choices. To make the discussion more jocular, we've defined Cognitive Biases as “CranioRectal Inversions” (CRI).

The previous post discussed the problem of thinking that people think and do the same things that we do, though this is not true about every kind of belief. Social support plays a role in how we justify ourselves and how we perceive reality, and it works to help bolster our feelings about ourselves and our decisions. But what do we know about what weakens or strengthens a False Consensus Bias?

Thursday, September 29, 2016

A CrainioRectal Inversion as Both Nemesis and Insightful Tool


Just a reminder that the purpose of this discussion aims at stimulating thought and self awareness as tools to help those in recovery from trauma learn how to make safer choices. To make the discussion more jocular, we've defined Cognitive Biases as “CranioRectal Inversions” (CRI).

The False Consensus Bias refers to a tendency to overestimate the number of people who share our views, beliefs, values, and behaviors. I tend to think of Descartes' “I think therefore I am.” If I start with myself at the center of my understanding, it seems to naturally follow (at first) that most people will be somewhat like me. I think this, therefore a good number of people will think the same thing. You are your own norm, and you can fall into the trap of thinking that you represent most people.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Pull Your Head Out to Avoid Variations on Attribution Errors


Just a reminder that the purpose of this discussion aims at stimulating thought and self awareness as tools to help those in recovery from trauma learn how to make safer choices. To make the discussion more jocular, we've defined Cognitive Biases as “CranioRectal Inversions” (CRI).

Many cognitive biases tend to point out the same errors in thought but with subtly different emphases.  I think that these errors in attribution that are also somewhat self-serving are worth looking at because they demonstrate how fragile our perspective can be without a balance of circumspection and introspection.

When learning something new, we start with what we already know and understand, and if we are observant and mindful, we can learn much about ourselves. We can also pick up on cues about how others tend to see themselves and how we all come together in our intersections in the world as well. So we start at the center of our understanding until we have a broader base for comparison and contrast, and we find ourselves at that center of things. We also cast ourselves in a favorable role when thinking about motives and behaviors. We're good people and we like to think that others think of us that way, too.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Fascinating False Attributions and Representative Heuristics


Just a reminder that the purpose of this discussion aims at stimulating thought and self awareness as tools to help those in recovery from trauma learn how to make safer choices. To make the discussion more jocular, we've defined Cognitive Biases as “CranioRectal Inversions” (CRI).

We've already visited a few biases that concern attribution errors, but I hesitate to address some of them because they can quickly become personally painful. I can trace most of my relationship mistakes and boundary issues directly back to them, and in many ways, I feel as if I never learn – or at least not fast enough. There's a chapter in the Book of Matthew that explains how to deal with harsh critics, and it doesn't promise a happy ending. It was quite influential when I left my spiritually abusive church, but I'm slow to consider it and take no pleasure in it. It explains that you should move on if you're not well-received, and it's not a fun process.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Dunning Krueger Effect in (my own) High Demand Relationships


Just a reminder that the purpose of this discussion aims at stimulating thought and self awareness as tools to help those in recovery from trauma learn how to make safer choices. To make the discussion more jocular, we've defined Cognitive Biases as “CranioRectal Inversions” (CRI).

I think of this as knowing just enough about something to be dangerous. Basically, people – roughly two thirds of people – who lack training in a certain topic grossly overestimate their skill and aptitude by wrongly assuming that they hold mastery of it.  They project confidence about it because they're totally ignorant of the fact that they're misguided.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Benchmarking and the Secret Knowledge Bias of a Cult Leader


Just a reminder that the purpose of this discussion aims at stimulating thought and self awareness as tools to help those in recovery from trauma learn how to make safer choices. To make the discussion more jocular, we've defined Cognitive Biases as “CranioRectal Inversions” (CRI).

I've struggled with writing this installment because I hate when a person pulls a Blind Spot Bias subtype out of their hat as cult leaders often do... Or were they in full force all along, but it took time for me to finally get over my own biases so that I am able to recognize them in someone else?  

I find them particularly difficult to bear when used against me. I still haven't figured out how to recognize them in someone else without making the realization a way of morally denigrating someone somehow, but that is an element of life and boundaries that I'm still chewing on. That tie to morality comes about because of my past experience, but it's not necessarily an element of a cognitive bias.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Positive Perceptions and Blame Games: The Self Serving Bias




Just a reminder that the purpose of this discussion aims at stimulating thought and self awareness as tools to help those in recovery from trauma learn how to make safer choices. To make the discussion more jocular, we've defined Cognitive Biases as “CranioRectal Inversions” (CRI).

Like the Blind Spot and Confirmation biases, the Self Serving Bias also serves to preserve the ego by painting the self in a positive light. One of many other attribution errors, anything that happens that benefits a person is credited to their achievement and merit. This assumption is sometimes true, but not always. The tendency helps us cope with and manage our fear of failure so that we can find optimism in the face of self-doubt.

In the event of failure or negative outcomes, the Self Serving Bias can also work to preserve ego by laying blame on some source other than the self. If we get a favorable score on a test, we take the credit for knowing the material and performing well. However, if we earn a low score on the test, we can easily blame the test or the teacher or some other factor to assuage our own feelings. We human beings tend to find it easy to assign cause to anything but our own behavior or limitations.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Coming to Terms with Confirmation Bias


The purpose of this discussion aims at stimulating thought and self awareness as tools to help those in recovery from trauma learn how to make safer choices. To make the discussion more jocular, we've defined Cognitive Biases as “CranioRectal Inversions” (CRI).

On a practical and personal level, I find that many biases overlap, allowing us to see the world favorably and in a way that paints us in a favorable light. As noted in the previous post, we have to trust our own perceptions as reasonably accurate as a starting point, and from that assumption, we can adapt and adjust them in light of new information. If we are healthy and live in optimism, we must trust in our perceptions until we're given cause to do otherwise. We also tend to give others the benefit of the doubt until they give us cause to doubt them.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

I Cant Be Biased!


Just a reminder that the purpose of this discussion aims at stimulating thought and self awareness as tools to help those in recovery from trauma learn how to make safer choices. To make the discussion more jocular, we've defined Cognitive Biases as “CranioRectal Inversions” (CRI).

When I first started to really dig deep into recovery from my spiritually abusive church, I became overwhelmed as I realized all of the things that I ignored. Little things would trouble me, but I would assume the best about those around me, dismissing the dissonance that I sensed as my own inattentiveness. If people I did not know were discussed and I found the discussion to be a bit odd, I would tell myself that I didn't know them and must not have understood their story.
 
I remember thinking this often, but the example that I remember most concerned discussions of people who the pastor claimed had left the church, but the elders didn't think that they should leave. The intensity of the things that he had to say about people seemed a bit disproportionate to me at the time, and he almost seemed as though he expected me to ask more questions.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Fostering Imagination in Evangelism


Excerpt from How Not to Evangelise by Stephen Parsons 
at Surviving Church (my own emphasis added):
The second word I brought forward as being always needed in any attempt at communication is the word imagination.

The ability to use the imagination effectively is sadly something not always encouraged in the schooling process. It does however develop as a by-product of certain disciplines within the curriculum which are labelled under the title of creative arts. These are not always the ones most valued in a system that places science, maths and verifiable information at the top of the educational tree. While imagination is hard to teach, it is nevertheless naturally built into every growing child and parents and teachers can do much to encourage it.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

The CranioRectal Inversion of Change-Blindness

Reminder: the purpose of this discussion aims at stimulating thought and self awareness as tools to help those in recovery from trauma learn how to make safer choices. We've defined Cognitive Biases as “CranioRectal Inversions” (CRI) to make things more interesting.

We live in a world that is loaded with more information than we can process. Attention helps us filter out that which is less significant to attend to that which is necessary or expedient. We can take in 30 to 40 images per second in sweeping glance, but our brain can't possibly pay attention to all of them. We only have the ability to retain a few of them, so we (or our brains) select what is significant to us. Sometimes, the objects in our visual field call for attention, but this differs from the manner in which we see by selection.

We tend to notice changes from the norm, but we also tend to miss big ones from time to time. As we noted in The Invisible Gorilla experiment, factors can compete for and divide our attention. Oddly enough, however, though we are very attuned to small changes, we research indicates that we can tend to miss the large ones. 

On Street Evangelists


http://survivingchurch.org/
Excerpt from How Not to Evangelise by Stephen Parsons 
at Surviving Church (my own emphasis added):
Without this capacity to imagine that things elsewhere in the world are sometimes radically different from what we know, we can find the rest of the world to be a place of darkness or even threat. [. . .] It goes without saying that it is important to know something of where another person is coming from in any attempt to communicate with them. Expecting them always to understand our words and our point of view because we are shouting a bit louder, is demeaning and insulting.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Urgent Items to Note! A Weekend Film and an Important Cause



CrainioRectal Inversions that Misjudge the Book by Its Cover


Just a reminder that the purpose of this discussion aims at stimulating thought and self awareness as tools to help those in recovery from trauma learn how to make safer choices. To make the discussion more jocular, we've defined Cognitive Biases as “CranioRectal Inversions” (CRI).

Perhaps the most obvious types of biases that involve taking in information in a biased way can be demonstrated by the old warning against judging a book by its cover. Manipulators make good use of this, and I wish that they were easy to spot as liars like the story of Pinocchio and the “tell” of his growing nose. The best con artists are the ones who fleece you, and if they move on, you end up thanking them for all they've done for you and miss them when they've departed. We misjudge them as trustworthy because we like what we see on the surface. We can also limit our thinking and expectations, too.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Bizarre Biases and Memory Orientation: CrainioRectal Inversions #3 thru #5


In the previous set of posts about the Ladder of Inference, we named Inattentional Blindness as our most recent cognitive bias of interest [a.k.a. CranioRectal Inversion (CRI)]. The Invisible Gorilla demonstrated for us that we don't take information in objectively, and that focus and other factors in our environment can alter our attention. You would think that someone would notice something as absurd as a gorilla walking through a group of kids passing basketballs back and forth, but 50% of people never see the gorilla because of the divided attention task of counting passes.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Falling off the Ladder of Inference (Part II)

Please see Part I HERE
for the Introduction to the Ladder of Inference
and CranioRectal Inversion (CRI) #2     


Mental Tagging of Information

As I've defined the Ladder here, the third rung involves how we make sense of information so that we can store it and use it later – and how we make decisions about what to do in the present. That brings up an interesting element of this phase of the process: time and pressure. When factors place a limit on the time we have to observe, think, and then decided on a course of action, we encounter a whole other set of types of biases. If given more time and less pressure, we have the luxury of being more circumspect and discerning. Manipulators also take advantage of this kind of pressure, and unpleasant circumstances also affect how we both take in information but especially how we tag or categorize it.

Cognitive Biases: Falling off the Ladder of Inference (Part I)


(photo credit)
Well, we don't actually fall off of it.
We just don't climb it very gracefully,
and don't end up where we'd like.


Before diving into additional cognitive biases, let's take a look at how we can put them into perspective by considering the Ladder of Inference. (We named the Hindsight Bias as our first in the CranioRectal Inversion (CRI) that results from falling into their trappings. Honestly, I intended no pun when I wrote that post and created the image!) Think of the Ladder as a section in the toolbox for cultivating safety in recovery from trauma, and you may choose to tuck cognitive biases neatly into it.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Cranio-Rectal Inversion #1: The Hindsight Bias




Looking at cognitive biases can be a sticky business because it's a term used in psychology, but the tricks our brain can play on us can overlap with other concepts and errors. Geeks coined the term in the 1970s, but we see elements of the things in our daily lives. The same kinds of errors overlap with logical fallacies to which these biases in thought contribute. I see the “weapons of influence” used in sales as a blending of both, just as thought reform does (according to those other geeks who coined those terms).

So in the interest of understanding ourselves, the world around us, and how we might safely fit into it, lets dive right into a lighter one first.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Cranio-Rectal Inversion and Cognitive Bias


(You can't live very safely if your head's up your _____.)

The title of this post conveys a rude image, but I find it sadly and uncomfortably true. In pondering my own recent disappointments in life and establishing safety in trauma recovery, I found myself looking squarely at my own cognitive biases. And I realized that you can't see and hear if you've buried your head away somewhere, even if it is self interest.

Cognitive” refers to thinking ability, and when teamed with “bias,” it refers to errors in our thinking that result in faulty judgements and poor decisions. The good news? We expereince them as a function of our humanity, and they don't seem much like biases or errors when we fall into them. And if you think about it, a life well lived might just be the long process of “pulliing our heads out” over the course of our lives concerning all sorts of sundry matters as our world and our experiences expand.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Fly Away from the Dream Squashers for Safety and Stability


http://www.123rf.com/photo_60923790_stock-vector-toy-space-rocket-with-smoke.html
pic credit
When preparing to write this post, I kept thinking about a scene on Everybody Loves Raymond where one of the characters named Robert says something quite true about what he calls “dream squashers.” Deborah, his sister-in-law, discusses returning to her career while the rest of the family focuses on the negative aspects of the idea. I identify with how Robert recounts his childhood dreams as he encourages Deborah to “strap a rocket on her back” so she can fly away from the naysayers – the dream squashers. It helps me make light of things, but the statement that he makes is very valid.

Safer Decisions: A Tough and Challenging Topic


I'd hoped to follow the previous post about how we make decisions and the risks we take with something more positive. As I'm walking through my own personal labyrinth of recovery from new challenges, I couldn't connect with the material very well.

In a way, it demonstrates the difficulties that we face when we do build Safety and work at Stabilization for ourselves as we recover from trauma. Life also gets in the way of that, as we have to go on living our lives as we heal. We still have our daily work, routines, and our ongoing care of self and others. My life has had the added elements of a couple of recent deaths including the suicide of a friend, the loss of my 16 year old cat last month, a flaring up of more than a few chronic illnesses, and a serious injury in my immediate family. These make the daily grind of all of the other pressures of life that we all share in common (like the rising cost of everything and enduring pre-election politics) that much more of a struggle.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Managing Ignorance and Knowledge in Recovery


Ignorance (lack of knowledge) affects all of us. Recognizing that you lack knowledgeable about something and seeking information or advice shows strength of character as well as wisdom in decision-making. The true problems arise for us when we don't realize that we're ignorant about a matter and to what extent our knowledge reaches. In the discussion of risk, often times, no one has information about uncertainty, but just that knowledge alone can help you make wiser decisions. So while you may feel like you're standing on the edge of a precipice and just might fall in to trouble, the fact that you're aware of your footing and your limitations does provide a great deal of power about what you can do and how to prepare for what you might face.

This post is also another one that looks at hard facts that can be difficult to thin about but will perhaps help us identify pitfalls that affect how we manage acceptance, expectation, and growth in recovery from trauma.  The post which will follow will be more encouraging and pleasant!