When seeing cognitive biases everywhere becomes a trap, by Julia de Funès – L’Express

why the most deserving are no longer recognized at their

Between the biases of attention, negativity, recency, primacy, biases of judgment, probability, anchoring, commitment, intentionality, confirmation, normality, biases of reasoning, availability, matching, the list is long… A bias, it should be remembered, is a deviation from logical and rational thinking in the processing of information. The study of biases is the subject of numerous studies in cognitive or social sciences, and in economics. Daniel Kahneman, who died last March, deconstructed the idea that economic decisions are made rationally. His research on the effects of cognitive biases in the decision-making process earned him the “Nobel Prize in Economics” in 2002.

If these theories have many virtues when they are applied by economists or scientists, they become comical when amateurs (pseudopsychiatrists, coaches, etc.), proud of following a few modules in neuroscience for the scientific guarantee that they pretend to bring to their ethereal formations, offer themselves a fantasy of omniscience while thinking of finding jewels of signifiers behind ordinary sentences. “As my father said…”, and we are immediately guilty of authority bias! “I think there will be people at the cinema” instantly backfires into negativity! “I agree with you,” and confirmation bias isn’t far away. Our mind quickly finds itself fragmented, split, divided into a division worthy of the greatest cubists.

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More important: if in certain areas the analysis of bias proves useful and necessary, it becomes a trap when it tends to make our smallest decisions the fruit of rational calculations. Isn’t the ideal of rationality, inseparable from these cognitive studies, itself the symptom of a salient rationalization bias when it seeks to systematize, schematize, model our thinking into circuits of intelligence? The life of the spirit is a continuity, a multiplicity of states which merge into each other, difficult to reduce to a mathematical product of rational operations, to a series of logical demonstrations. A decision is not always a deduction, a choice is rarely the conclusion of reasoning, a judgment is often the culmination of an inference.

To take action, emotion turns out to be particularly active

“We want to know by what reason we have decided, and we find that we have decided without reason, perhaps even against all reason. But this is precisely, in certain cases, the best of reasons.” says Bergson. As long as we reason and regulate our will on our intelligence, on our rationality, on logical analyses, we condemn ourselves to inaction or to an inauthentic choice. The authentic, personal, singular decision rarely comes from rationalizable causes. It is, says Bergson, like throwing yourself into the water, taking a jump. To make this leap, to take action, emotion, not in the sense of emotional sentimentality but in the sense of infradiscursive impulse, proves particularly active. “If emotion penetrates me, I will choose according to it, lifted by it,” underlines Bergson. Emotion, by nature prior to all reasoning, is a power of action irreducible to the logical, rational and Cartesian processes of our understanding. It is therefore appropriate to distinguish the deep life of the mind where thoughts, emotions and judgments merge together, from the apparent reconstitution that analytical intelligence makes of it using categories, systems, modeling. well ordered.

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These approaches undoubtedly have their interest. Who could neglect the role of certain biases in our judgments? And nevertheless these considerations remain forever incomplete in the sense that they always miss an essential part of the life of the mind which they nevertheless wish to elucidate. They forget that no intellectual work holds the final word on a preference or elucidates the enigma of a choice. Because no analysis, no study, no rational deduction can live up to the emotion that inspires it.

* Julia de Funès is a doctor of philosophy.