One of the most interesting things I’ve noticed since I started keeping an eye out for cognitive biases, is how unreliable reasoning is. Specifically, reasoning that goes like this:
I have a problem X. I think Y would be a good solution. I recommend this course of action to achieve Y.
This is a line of reasoning that is, by all means, logical. Assuming the course of action makes sense, it’s really hard to criticize this way of thinking. On the other hand, the entire thing relies on not one, but two extremely opinion-based premises, which are what the problem is (and sometimes, the fact that it is a problem is debatable), and what a good solution would be.
This is the perfect situation for two people to recommend the exact same actions for completely different, and sometimes opposed, motivations.
Here are a few examples, that I have actually heard or read from real people (paraphrased of course). You will see instantly how obviously illogical it is.
White people commit micro-aggressions and are racist. This is a huge problem because it hurts their victims, which often has bad effects on their grades, performance, etc. It would make sense to separate white/black dorms, graduation ceremonies, and other racism-prone situations, to avoid racism.
Black people are dirty and uncivilized, so they should stay away from white people. It would make sense to separate white/black dorms, graduation ceremonies, water fountains, and other interaction-prone situations, to avoid mixing them up.
You can easily see how both of these have very opinion-based problems and solutions, yet ended up recommending the same course of action to reach that solution.
Employers are extremely biased against women, especially in STEM workplaces. This leads to a lower percentage of the workforce being women, and almost no women at all in positions of power because they don’t get promoted. We need to make sure they get the same opportunity. It would make sense to establish gender quotas (positive discrimination) to counterbalance the bias, so that women end up with an equal chance.
Women are a lot less interested in STEM fields, therefore apply less mostly because of biological reasons. Since those fields contain most of the high-paying jobs available, this makes women earn a lot less money. This forces many men to pay for stuff in a relationship, which creates an unfair standard where even men who are paid equal or less than their girlfriends are expected to provide. Artificially raising the number of women in high-paying fields would contribute to fighting this bias our society, and would help men avoid sexism in the long run.
Or, the exact opposite:
Even though there is most likely bias in some employers, and that is probably part of the reson why there are so few women in STEM fields. By remaining completely equal in opportunity, we will contribute to lowering everyone’s biases in the long run, and achieve true equality. Therefore we should not artificially inflate the number of women hired in those fields for short-term pretend-equality.
Women refuse to go in STEM fields because they are less logical, and on average dumber, than men. Very few are hired right now, because those are the only exceptions, and forcing more would hire the less competent ones and hurt the entire industry. We should keep things as they are, since it is optimized like it is anyway.
Basically, no matter how smart or rational you think your reasoning is, since everything hinges on your premises, and they are inherently biased, you will probably end up agreeing with some nutjob out there who hates everything you stand for. And both of you will hate the idea of agreeing with the other.
On the other hand, some people on your side could suggest completely different ideas than you do, and seem like they disagree with you in appearance. I have literally seen feminists argue with each other over the Burka (muslim headscarf). Some were saying that as it is used to shame and opress women in muslim countries, we should get rid of it, while others said that since Trump is a racist and a sexist, wearing the Burka is a sign of resistance against him.
My point is that when talking about politics, society problems, and opinion-based subjects, not only can you almost never expect to convince anyone you are right, but you can pretty much end up recommending anything no matter which side you are on, so half the time you won’t need to convince someone (yet still try) or won’t bother with someone who truly should be your opponent.
Just look at protests nowadays. Pretty much the entire country agrees that nazis are bad and free speech is good. Yet nobody agrees on what exactly is a nazi, or what exactly is free speech. So you either see nazis that use the free speech excuse to defend their genocidal ideas, or you see free-speech protectors who get called nazis by a ton of people for no reason. Depending on which one of those interpretations you have, you might support, or even join and help, one of the side, and you will end up being called a nazi (or nazi-sympathiser) too, or a fascist anti free-speech (or sympathiser) violent thug, by people who didn’t see it the same way. And if you chose the nazi side because you decided they were only free-speech protectors, getting beat up and called a nazi by the other side will make you call them fascist violent thugs. And if you chose the fascist violent thugs side, because you decided they were only anti-nazi resistance, then getting beat up and called a fascist violent thug by the other side will make you call them nazis.
And that kids, is how you get political divide.
Tune in next week to see how to solve political divide!
Who am I kidding, there’s no way to solve this, it’s way too far gone. Our only chance is artificial superintelligence taking the wheel and getting rid of our petty disagreements (maybe by killing us all in the process)