False Heuristics

Posted by Kayla Castro
Jul 18 2014


“It takes a lot of intellect and confidence to accept that what makes sense doesn’t really make sense.” -“The Bed of Procrustes”, Taleb

I wrote last week about some of the false heuristics (rules of thumb) that “make sense” to people but cause major health issues: saturated fat, cholesterol, and heart disease; calories in versus calories out; and the fact that CrossFit “looks dangerous.”

It seems that all of us have some innate desire to obey authority (Milgram and Zimbardobeing the most famous academic examples) and to conform to tribal norms (Milgram and Zimbardo again, and everybody since Aristotle). One hopes that we can reason our way out of false heuristics by observing the negative effects of our actions and then make adjustments, but it seems like even both folks that are very sick and folks that aren’t make bad decisions that they know is bad for their health.

I don’t really have a solution to this and I’m not super interested in bringing enlightenment to the world. I guess I’m just wondering if anybody wants to contribute an answer to the question: why do you (or somebody you know) continue to make bad decisions once they’ve been presented with significant data that what they are doing is bad for them?


[Originally posted Potomac CrossFit 140114]

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