Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Bursting Bubbles and Feeling FUBAR


It always amazes me when my brain tunes into something, and suddenly, I start seeing examples the same message everywhere I look and in the most unlikely of places. My last few blog posts considered optimism as a coping mechanism. It was part of a series of posts about cognitive biases – the errors of thought that people make when interpreting the meaning of what happens to them or what they observe.

Optimism proves to be a bit of a paradox in that it is a hard bias to reduce, but it also fosters hope which becomes a powerful motivator for positive change. People who lean towards optimism tend to be happier, and the belief that an effort will be met with success can literally and dramatically improve a person's chance of success. The tricky part involves striking a safe balance between an optimism that fosters positive change while avoiding the pitfall of recklessness through risk-taking. We need some buffer to help us cope with the fact that life is not fair and that we are flawed creatures with limited power. And in life, sometimes the bubbles we create wear out their usefulness as we change and grow.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

When Bubbles Outlive their Usefulness: Cognitive Bias Coping Bubbles Part IV


This post discusses the use of the cognitive bias of optimism as a coping mechanism, continued from Part I here, Part II here, and Part III here. It is a part of a broader discussion of how those in recovery from trauma can make safer choices in their relationships.

Sometimes, I think that life is a process of bursting our bubbles of illusion as we grow to see reality more clearly. The world can be a chaotic and terrifying place, but we creative humans have a remarkable ability to construct an understanding of the world and themselves that gives them the opportunity to make the most of their resources while constructing a meaningful and rewarding life. This bubble might be considered a worldview. And from our culture and our nature, we develop our own style of communicating and our own style of learning. We're also faced with a paradox of human need between a healthy individualism (staying just far enough away from others) and healthy interdependence (establishing connection, rapport, and solidarity with others).

Monday, April 3, 2017

Caged with Kafka: Cognitive Bias Coping Bubbles Part III


This post discusses the use of the cognitive bias of optimism as a coping mechanism, continued from Part I here and Part II here. It is a part of a broader discussion of how those in recovery from trauma can make safer choices in their relationships.


As I prepared to conclude my thoughts about the musical Gypsy to explain how optimism helped me to cope with less than optimistic circumstances, I found myself thinking of another reference. I spent a whole week in awe at the artful ability to humorously disguise one of the most painful of subject so that it bypassed my conscious attention twenty five years ago. My brain tucked its language away for later consideration when I would be better able to face what I wasn't able to deal with then.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Mature Optimism's Gift of Insight: Cognitive Bias Coping Bubbles Part II


This post which discusses optimism as a cognitive bias continues from PART I which can be read HERE. It references examples of ideas that I drew from the musical Gypsy to explain how optimism helped me to cope with less than optimistic circumstances. 

It is a part of a broader discussion of how those in recovery from trauma can make safer choices in their relationships. (I'm clearly learning as I go.)

Little did I realize until last week that I'd lifted my “Mama's little circus freak” moniker directly out a scene from Gyspy. Mama Rose Hovick who becomes jealous of the public attention garnered by her daughter whom she viewed as the least talented tells her that she is little more than a circus freak. Gypsy Rose Lee, the new stage name of her daughter [Rose] Louise, found great success in the Burlesque venue as their family's Vaudeville career evaporated along with Vaudeville itself. To tame the sting that she feels as she transitions out of stage mother mode and as her other loved ones leave her behind, she wields her iron will to force those left in her world to give her that to which she feels entitled. She tries to seize her own worth from the ostrich feathers of her daughter's new, successful career.

Monday, March 20, 2017

The Curse of Optimism: Cognitive Bias Coping Bubbles Part I


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).

As the previous post postulated, in an unbalanced relationship, objectification on each side of that relationship can serve as a means of coping. One person becomes obligated to give if the other party always feels entitled to take from the other without reciprocating support. 

The less powerful party might trade their personal losses for the benefits that remaining entrenched in dysfunction yields for them. This 'secondary gain' essentially rewards a person for maintaining an unhealthy status quo. The illusions created by the party in pain help to preserve the dynamic which finds a stable point amidst its imbalance. By lessening the pain, by making secondary gain the focus of the relationship, motivation to change or exit the relationship drops and makes life more livable.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Using Halos to Cope with Horns? Objectification as a Double Edged Sword


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).

Here's a radical thought as we continue to consider the trappings of the Halo Effect. (I've dubbed the other side of the idealization coin as the Horn Effect to describe cognitive bias that results in the demoralization of others.)

People don't like to think that thinking very well of a person
or others thinking very well of them
as something negative.


Consider how this might work in light of how abusers treat victims when they're trapped in 'middle management' in a high demand system. As the other side of the coin to Lifton's description of the duality required of doctors under the Third Reich (discussed in the previous post), we might reverse the roles to see how the victim also uses the healing-killing paradox by default. While some may learn to use evil to accomplish good, they would not accomplish much without those who accept that evil, accommodate it, and support it.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Halos and Objectification



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 spent years reading, thinking, and writing about objectification – to treat someone as if they are a mere object instead of the unique, complex, and valuable person that they are. The cognitive bias of salience describes general aspects of this attribution error which overlaps with some others – that of objectifying people as primarily good or evil by splitting them and their worth entirely into only one one or the other.
[Please take note of the many links embedded in this particular post for background on some of the concepts and history referred to in the post.  This one seems rather dense with them.]
The black and white thinking that high demand groups and relationships use to advance authoritarianism force simplistic assessments by making leaders and model citizens who follow their program as divine and intrinsically good, so the related CranioRectal Inversion has been termed the halo effect. This contrasts a whole range of possibilities when people are viewed in the opposite light – diminishing or minimizing others and their influence. Spiritual abusers love to cast those who fail to follow the informal rules of conduct or the affection of leadership as ranging from problematic to malicious if not demonic. I've dubbed it the horn effect for this discussion.

This blog often explores both concepts as essential components of spiritual abuse but uses the term objectification to describe horns far more frequently than it does halos. Why might that be so?

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Deeply Planted Seeds of Cognitive Bias


https://rachelheldevans.com/blog/scandal-evangelical-heart
This is a tweeked excerpt from a post that I wrote a few years ago, prompted by Cindy Foster's reflection on a blog post about a blog post (Rachel Held Evans' The Scandal of the Evangelical Heart)

     Reflecting on my own, consistently repeated cognitive biases, I thought that this might give the reader some insight into how illogical ideas can become so entrenched in our natures and the ways we learn to we see the world. I still find the tendrils of tributaries and branches of these basic false beliefs in different areas of my life, and I still work like a gardener to keep weeds at bay. There's not as much tugging and pulling as there used to be, but it seems that like the seeds of weeds, the scandalous lies about who I am and how the world 'should' work keep popping up. They have shaped who I am, and I am determined to use them to as potent motivators for growth.

And then I felt moved to make what I think might be art.

Christian Language Trigger Warning: I wrote this from an openly religious perspective targeting a Christian audience, for it is how I make sense of the experiences and find meaning and hope despite the hardships they created.

This narrative is known ad nauseum to those closest to me as 
The Saga of Marcy and the Pennies

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Kiss Your Monster on the Nose


https://www.amazon.com/Adult-Childs-Guide-Whats-Normal/dp/1558740902/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1488144892&sr=8-2&keywords=friel+and+friel+adult+children 


I first encountered this story near the end of the book An Adult Child's Guide to What's “Normal” by Friel and Friel, but beyond that, I have no idea where it originated. 

In many ways, I hope to make the monsters of Cognitive Biases something of friends by what they tell us about ourselves. May we continue to learn from our mistakes and those uncomfortable parts of ourselves that tend to scare us. May they become our respected friends and instruments for fostering healthy growth.




Once upon a time there was a little girl who lived in a village far from the big city. The village was nestled in a beautiful, sunlit valley surrounded by a tall snow-capped mountain range.

As the little girl grew older, she began to hike in the foothills at the base of the mountains, and when she became a teenager, she asked her parents if she could hike over the mountains to the village on the other side to visit her grandparents.

At first, her parents were very upset and worried, and they told her that she could not go. But the little girl pleaded and begged and argued that someday she would be a young woman, and that she would have to grow up sometime. After several months of debate, her parents finally agreed to let her go.

Strategic Wisdom, Cognitive Bias and Poker

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'm not cut out for poker and political games, especially interpersonal ones.  Just the same, I forget (through errors of attribution) that for some people, the drama created by such strategic game paying adds spice to their life. I actually have trouble accepting that it also comes into play when working with others to meet a common goal. I've been in some skirmishes that have demonstrated my desire clarify some matter of logic or miscommunication, but the whole mess quickly degrades into a emotional battle of wills before I realize it.  The cues are there, but I don't want to notice them.  I don't understand what motivates them, but I must learn to respect them and the problematic ways I've coped with them in the past.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Why My Common Cognitive Biases Make Me Lousy at Poker


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).

As I walked through this past year (recapped here), I recognized the familiar sense of panic that I felt during my last year in my spiritually abusive (cultic) church. A number of years ago, I'd become involved with a new group of people that aspired to achieve some idealistic causes, but as it unfolded, it became an unhealthy and familiar trap. As was true of my old church, not everyone experiences the discomfort of dysfunction, yet like some others, I found myself in good company.  I think that the familiarity of the dynamics caused me to forget about my competent adult self, and I felt swept up in a deep sense of childhood helplessness.  (As a friend put it, these folks did have a formidable "skill set," too.)  

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Wishful Thinking and Jello


https://www.pinterest.com/explore/rainbow-jello/
I remember when I was head over heels (sometimes literally) in that Toronto Blessing Movement in Word of Faith, I could feel the disappointment coming. I was probably about ten pounds overweight at the time, and I went on an extended fast. I stopped checking my weight when I was three weeks in, and I'd dropped about 35 pounds. I continued to fast until I “believed” I'd achieved what I'd set out to overcome, but I didn't weigh myself again. I do remember when my weight shot about 35 pounds ahead of my happy starting weight. That was the first of many fasts.

I did have some grand insights as a result of that fast, but they weren't what I'd hoped they would be. My mom was undergoing radiation, and she wanted a miracle, signs and wonders, buzzy, exciting healing. I wanted a magical solution that would halt the spiritual abuse and the abuse suffered by women taking place at my church. I'd done just about everything but an extended fast to achieve that special status through which miracles are supposed to flow. I felt as though I'd exhausted everything else.

Friday, February 24, 2017

When Cognitive Biases Hit Too Close to Home


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 don't come with a user's manual for our parents when we're born, and no one gives us one when we head towards adulthood. We are human, and as the old slogan goes, “Children learn what they live.” 

Friday, January 20, 2017

If you haven't read it yet....

https://www.amazon.com/Influence-Psychology-Persuasion-Business-Essentials-ebook/dp/B002BD2UUC/ref=br_asw_pdt-3?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=&pf_rd_r=WXZS7VAG886M05JFGBAX&pf_rd_t=36701&pf_rd_p=0b72a5cd-ed40-4583-a189-81ed78307c91&pf_rd_i=desktopThe Amazon Kindle version of Robert Cialdini's  
is now available for $1.99.


It's unclear whether this is the new standard Kindle price at Amazon, so if you haven't read it before, it's probably smart to buy the digital copy.  Check out this brief overview which also appears in the sidebar.  Dr. Philip Zimbardo also offers a very nice summary at The Lucifer Effect website.

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.):



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.