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.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

I Cant Be Biased!

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).

When I first started to really dig deep into recovery from my spiritually abusive church, I became overwhelmed as I realized all of the things that I ignored. Little things would trouble me, but I would assume the best about those around me, dismissing the dissonance that I sensed as my own inattentiveness. If people I did not know were discussed and I found the discussion to be a bit odd, I would tell myself that I didn't know them and must not have understood their story.
I remember thinking this often, but the example that I remember most concerned discussions of people who the pastor claimed had left the church, but the elders didn't think that they should leave. The intensity of the things that he had to say about people seemed a bit disproportionate to me at the time, and he almost seemed as though he expected me to ask more questions.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Fostering Imagination in Evangelism

Excerpt from How Not to Evangelise by Stephen Parsons 
at Surviving Church (my own emphasis added):
The second word I brought forward as being always needed in any attempt at communication is the word imagination.

The ability to use the imagination effectively is sadly something not always encouraged in the schooling process. It does however develop as a by-product of certain disciplines within the curriculum which are labelled under the title of creative arts. These are not always the ones most valued in a system that places science, maths and verifiable information at the top of the educational tree. While imagination is hard to teach, it is nevertheless naturally built into every growing child and parents and teachers can do much to encourage it.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

The CranioRectal Inversion of Change-Blindness

Reminder: 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. We've defined Cognitive Biases as “CranioRectal Inversions” (CRI) to make things more interesting.

We live in a world that is loaded with more information than we can process. Attention helps us filter out that which is less significant to attend to that which is necessary or expedient. We can take in 30 to 40 images per second in sweeping glance, but our brain can't possibly pay attention to all of them. We only have the ability to retain a few of them, so we (or our brains) select what is significant to us. Sometimes, the objects in our visual field call for attention, but this differs from the manner in which we see by selection.

We tend to notice changes from the norm, but we also tend to miss big ones from time to time. As we noted in The Invisible Gorilla experiment, factors can compete for and divide our attention. Oddly enough, however, though we are very attuned to small changes, we research indicates that we can tend to miss the large ones. 

On Street Evangelists

Excerpt from How Not to Evangelise by Stephen Parsons 
at Surviving Church (my own emphasis added):
Without this capacity to imagine that things elsewhere in the world are sometimes radically different from what we know, we can find the rest of the world to be a place of darkness or even threat. [. . .] It goes without saying that it is important to know something of where another person is coming from in any attempt to communicate with them. Expecting them always to understand our words and our point of view because we are shouting a bit louder, is demeaning and insulting.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Urgent Items to Note! A Weekend Film and an Important Cause

CrainioRectal Inversions that Misjudge the Book by Its Cover

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).

Perhaps the most obvious types of biases that involve taking in information in a biased way can be demonstrated by the old warning against judging a book by its cover. Manipulators make good use of this, and I wish that they were easy to spot as liars like the story of Pinocchio and the “tell” of his growing nose. The best con artists are the ones who fleece you, and if they move on, you end up thanking them for all they've done for you and miss them when they've departed. We misjudge them as trustworthy because we like what we see on the surface. We can also limit our thinking and expectations, too.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Bizarre Biases and Memory Orientation: CrainioRectal Inversions #3 thru #5

In the previous set of posts about the Ladder of Inference, we named Inattentional Blindness as our most recent cognitive bias of interest [a.k.a. CranioRectal Inversion (CRI)]. The Invisible Gorilla demonstrated for us that we don't take information in objectively, and that focus and other factors in our environment can alter our attention. You would think that someone would notice something as absurd as a gorilla walking through a group of kids passing basketballs back and forth, but 50% of people never see the gorilla because of the divided attention task of counting passes.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Falling off the Ladder of Inference (Part II)

Please see Part I HERE
for the Introduction to the Ladder of Inference
and CranioRectal Inversion (CRI) #2     

Mental Tagging of Information

As I've defined the Ladder here, the third rung involves how we make sense of information so that we can store it and use it later – and how we make decisions about what to do in the present. That brings up an interesting element of this phase of the process: time and pressure. When factors place a limit on the time we have to observe, think, and then decided on a course of action, we encounter a whole other set of types of biases. If given more time and less pressure, we have the luxury of being more circumspect and discerning. Manipulators also take advantage of this kind of pressure, and unpleasant circumstances also affect how we both take in information but especially how we tag or categorize it.

Cognitive Biases: Falling off the Ladder of Inference (Part I)

(photo credit)
Well, we don't actually fall off of it.
We just don't climb it very gracefully,
and don't end up where we'd like.

Before diving into additional cognitive biases, let's take a look at how we can put them into perspective by considering the Ladder of Inference. (We named the Hindsight Bias as our first in the CranioRectal Inversion (CRI) that results from falling into their trappings. Honestly, I intended no pun when I wrote that post and created the image!) Think of the Ladder as a section in the toolbox for cultivating safety in recovery from trauma, and you may choose to tuck cognitive biases neatly into it.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Cranio-Rectal Inversion #1: The Hindsight Bias

Looking at cognitive biases can be a sticky business because it's a term used in psychology, but the tricks our brain can play on us can overlap with other concepts and errors. Geeks coined the term in the 1970s, but we see elements of the things in our daily lives. The same kinds of errors overlap with logical fallacies to which these biases in thought contribute. I see the “weapons of influence” used in sales as a blending of both, just as thought reform does (according to those other geeks who coined those terms).

So in the interest of understanding ourselves, the world around us, and how we might safely fit into it, lets dive right into a lighter one first.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Cranio-Rectal Inversion and Cognitive Bias

(You can't live very safely if your head's up your _____.)

The title of this post conveys a rude image, but I find it sadly and uncomfortably true. In pondering my own recent disappointments in life and establishing safety in trauma recovery, I found myself looking squarely at my own cognitive biases. And I realized that you can't see and hear if you've buried your head away somewhere, even if it is self interest.

Cognitive” refers to thinking ability, and when teamed with “bias,” it refers to errors in our thinking that result in faulty judgements and poor decisions. The good news? We expereince them as a function of our humanity, and they don't seem much like biases or errors when we fall into them. And if you think about it, a life well lived might just be the long process of “pulliing our heads out” over the course of our lives concerning all sorts of sundry matters as our world and our experiences expand.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Fly Away from the Dream Squashers for Safety and Stability

pic credit
When preparing to write this post, I kept thinking about a scene on Everybody Loves Raymond where one of the characters named Robert says something quite true about what he calls “dream squashers.” Deborah, his sister-in-law, discusses returning to her career while the rest of the family focuses on the negative aspects of the idea. I identify with how Robert recounts his childhood dreams as he encourages Deborah to “strap a rocket on her back” so she can fly away from the naysayers – the dream squashers. It helps me make light of things, but the statement that he makes is very valid.

Safer Decisions: A Tough and Challenging Topic

I'd hoped to follow the previous post about how we make decisions and the risks we take with something more positive. As I'm walking through my own personal labyrinth of recovery from new challenges, I couldn't connect with the material very well.

In a way, it demonstrates the difficulties that we face when we do build Safety and work at Stabilization for ourselves as we recover from trauma. Life also gets in the way of that, as we have to go on living our lives as we heal. We still have our daily work, routines, and our ongoing care of self and others. My life has had the added elements of a couple of recent deaths including the suicide of a friend, the loss of my 16 year old cat last month, a flaring up of more than a few chronic illnesses, and a serious injury in my immediate family. These make the daily grind of all of the other pressures of life that we all share in common (like the rising cost of everything and enduring pre-election politics) that much more of a struggle.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Managing Ignorance and Knowledge in Recovery

Ignorance (lack of knowledge) affects all of us. Recognizing that you lack knowledgeable about something and seeking information or advice shows strength of character as well as wisdom in decision-making. The true problems arise for us when we don't realize that we're ignorant about a matter and to what extent our knowledge reaches. In the discussion of risk, often times, no one has information about uncertainty, but just that knowledge alone can help you make wiser decisions. So while you may feel like you're standing on the edge of a precipice and just might fall in to trouble, the fact that you're aware of your footing and your limitations does provide a great deal of power about what you can do and how to prepare for what you might face.

This post is also another one that looks at hard facts that can be difficult to thin about but will perhaps help us identify pitfalls that affect how we manage acceptance, expectation, and growth in recovery from trauma.  The post which will follow will be more encouraging and pleasant!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Understanding Risk : Learning to Move Towards Safety

(photo credit)
I once heard a lecture about fostering critical thought that aimed at defining risk and the information that we have when we must make choices. Some choices are easier than others, depending on what may happen if we make the wrong choice, and if we've exited a high demand group, we are likely brutal perfectionists

The personal costs involved in making choices influence us, and access to information about the ways others have tackled similar choices also impact this hard work. Understanding these factors can help us to feel better about the process of decision making, especially if we feel a bit rusty.  I've warmed up with age, but I still often struggle with making big decisions, especially ones that concern optimism about myself.  But looking into taking risks can help us develop and practice optimism that can help us build as much safety and stability as we can.  All people need it, but at least we human beings are all in the same boat.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Developing Tools to Find Safety in the Face of Uncertainty

In the discussion of building safety in stabilization in recovery from post traumatic stress, we've recently considered the role of acceptance and expectation in that process. We lose perspective because we get more consumed with survival for far too long which interferes with our ability to embrace joy and live optimistically. 

Understanding mankind's vulnerability in the grand sense gives a a map of the landscape, and creating a starting point of moments of safety give us a starting point. Learning how to safely move forward through the oft convoluted maze of healing also gives us a safe habits and help in that process.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Safety in Optimism as a Learned and Re-Learned Skill

Earlier posts looked at the grand picture in life concerning our expectations for safety in a world where things exceed our control. Camus defines well that we are stuck in the human condition which requires struggle and disappointment that doesn't end. Catherine Marshall looks to the acceptance of what Camus describes but differentiates hopeful acceptance from the pessimism of resignation that seems to be it's own kind of premature death. Today, I'd like to tighten that broad focus on uncertainty down to a more basic and immediate one.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Modern Day Witch Hunting in the Christian Church


A guest post by author, Shirley Taylor 
from her blog,  

(originally published July 29, 2016)

Safely Tucked in the Middle? Contrasting and Comparing Camus and Christy

Catherine Marshall authored Christy, the historical fiction novel which was based on her mother's experiences in a remote mountain community in Tennessee. In the picture shown here, I included a rendition of her book which features Kellie Martin who played the protagonist in the CBS TV drama that was developed from the novel a number of years ago. (I figured that her work might be more recognizable that way.) 

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Finding Safety in Myths? Camus as Futlity's Starting Point


I am by far a greater fan of Master of the Absurd, Franz Kafka, who laments in his writings about the nature of man and his limitations, but I could not help but think of Albert Camus' essay about The Myth of Sisyphus concerning the subject of futility and expectation. Can his writing help us find some footing in recovery from trauma so that we can build some type of stability? Trauma robs us of our sense of safety, causes us to feel isolated, and it obscures our memories of stability if we truly had any as a starting point. Trauma causes us to realize the reality of our fragile nature and alienates us from optimism.

This theme is of interest to me because of the problem of figuring out how to fix one's aim when it comes to expectations – especially in relationships. Camus sees the proverbial glass as half empty, and it won't be long before the liquid in the glass evaporates. What would the Apostle Paul recommend for us to consider regarding a glass that is only half full while there is great need for more help for our human condition? Sometimes, I feel the weight of Sisyphus rolling down on me and all of my fantasies because I've been badly burned by the idea that the glass will soon be full. Can I use the writings of the atheist of absurdity to figure out how to understand Paul's admonishment to be content and at peace, despite my very human circumstances in real life?

Monday, August 8, 2016

“Bloom Where You're Planted” as a Thought Stopping Cliche

I'd heard that phrase before, but even now and even with my positive experience with the concept many years later, the phrase still connotes something negative for me. 

The last post detailed my very good experience with the sage advice of determination to bloom and grow, even if it's not where you want to be or the conditions are not that favorable.