We’re going to move from talking about tools we use to build our argument to identifying traps we often fall into. These traps come in many forms, including limiting assumptions, logical fallacies, and cognitive biases – and hopefully over the next couple of days, you will be blown away by how easily our sense of what is “reasonable” or “logical” can be hijacked and turned against us. Start by reading this article from the Atlantic about cognitive biases:
Atlantic – Cognitive Biases.pdf
In a response of around 300 words, reflect on the following questions:
- Why is it important to be aware of the kinds of biases this article describes? Do they sound familiar – that is, have you or anyone you know ever experienced one of them?
- The article describes a disagreement between two researchers in the field, Daniel Kahneman and Richard E. Nisbett. Kahneman believes that even when people know about these biases, they have little hope of counteracting them, whereas Nisbett believes that knowing about and consciously avoiding them can help us to be more objective consumers of information. Which argument do you find more persuasive and why?
- Finally, why do you think I’ve asked you to read an article about cognitive biases in a writing class? How does any of this apply to rhetoric?
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