Applying the Lessons

Skeptic Blog has a post on the topic that has fascinated me in recent months, the psychological biases of the human mind that guide our behavior but hide our understanding of what is real.

The blogger writes:

One of my primary goals for this blog is to reinforce, strongly and frequently, the notion of neuropsychological humility – the understanding that our perceptions and memories are deeply flawed and biased. There appears to be almost no limit to the extent to which people can deceive themselves into believing bizarre things.

Psychologists have documented these flaws and biases in numerous ways, and when confronted with demonstrations of such people tend to be amused, as if they were being entertained by a magic show, but do not necessarily apply the lessons to themselves and their own lives. This is one of the key differences, in my opinion, between skeptics (critical thinkers) and non-skeptics – a working knowledge of self-deception.

The subject of the post is about blind tasting of champagne. I’ve read about several such studies over the past few years — amazingly, even experts usually cannot tell the difference between cheap and expensive wine, or even whether a given taste is red or white — and so this is an area in which I have changed my behavior as a result of evidence. I no longer ‘splurge’ on expensive bottles of wine at the market, and I always aim for the low end (not the very low end) of the wine menu in restaurants. And they taste just fine.

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