Spencer Greenberg (@SpencrGreenberg) is a mathematician, entrepreneur, and founder of Clearer Thinking, a website that trains people to overcome their own biases and make better decisions rationally.
What We Discuss with Spencer Greenberg:
- Common logical fallacies and concepts like black and white thinking, cherry picking, straw man arguments, and the typical mind fallacy.
- How these logical fallacies can be so powerfully persuasive even in the face of contrary evidence, and why they inhibit our thinking and keep us from getting closer to the truth.
- How to spot cognitive bias in ourselves and others — and in the sources we choose to inform us about the outside world.
- How we can improve our critical thinking, cut through these faulty arguments and biases, and separate fact from fiction with logic over emotion.
- Practical tools that allow us to cultivate clearer thinking for these often cloudy times.
- And much more…
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The skill of noticing bad logic, misleading arguments, and invalid evidence is extremely important. This skill not only helps you avoid being misled by others, but when used properly, it helps you avoid misleading yourself.
In this episode, Spencer Greenberg of Clearer Thinking shares numerous free training tools we can use to improve our own critical thinking and eliminate bias to improve the decision-making powers at our disposal. Listen, learn, and enjoy!
Please Scroll Down for Featured Resources and Transcript!
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THANKS, SPENCER GREENBERG!
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Resources from This Episode:
- Try Spencer’s Free Rhetorical Fallacies Tool at Clearer Thinking Here!
- Clearer Thinking
- Spencer Greenberg’s Website
- Spencer Greenberg at Facebook
- Spencer Greenberg at Twitter
- Straw Man, Steel Man, and Grass Man by Michael Dello-Iacovo
Transcript for Spencer Greenberg - Cultivating Clearer Thinking for Cloudy Times (Episode 136)
Jordan Harbinger: [00:00:00] Welcome to the show. I'm Jordan Harbinger. As always, I'm here with my producer Jason DeFillippo. When I heard about Spencer Greenberg over at clearerthinking.org. I was immediately interested in what he was doing. Spencer and his team are busy creating numerous free training tools we can use to improve critical thinking and eliminate bias to improve our decision making. The skill of noticing bad logic, misleading arguments and invalid evidence is extremely important. This skill can not only help you avoid being misled by others but when used properly, it can help you avoid misleading yourself. Ideally, this skill becomes so honed that your brain alerts you to bad arguments via pattern recognition in real time as they are happening.
[00:00:45] Today, we'll discover common logical fallacies and concepts like black and white thinking, cherry picking, straw man arguments, and the typical mind fallacy and we'll see why these inhibit our thinking and keep us from getting closer to the truth. We'll also learn ways to spot this type of cognitive bias in others, in ourselves, and in what we read as well as what we see is on television. Finally, we'll explore ways in which we can improve our critical thinking, cut through these faulty arguments and biases and get closer to the truth, which is so sorely needed in this day and age.
[00:01:17] If you want to know how I managed to book all these great people, all of these great guests for the show, and manage my relationships using systems and tiny habits. Just a few minutes per day by the way, check out our Six-Minute Networking Course, which is free over at jordanharbinger.com/course. All right, here's Spencer Greenberg.
[00:01:34] Spencer, thanks for coming on the show, my friend.
Spencer Greenberg: [00:01:36] Thanks so much for having me.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:01:38] So you're a mathematician and entrepreneur. You know, I haven't heard those things go together that often. I really haven't.
Spencer Greenberg: [00:01:44] Yeah, I guess it's not that common, but I tend to think that the kind of mathematical way of viewing the world actually has a lot of use cases.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:01:51] Well, yeah, isn't that kind of the point? I mean it's got to be one of the most, and I'm sure there's branches of theoretical math and stuff like that that aren't really used to solve any problems yet, or maybe they're used to solve problems that don't exist yet, I don't know. But in theory, math should be one of the most practical disciplines around. So it makes sense that it applies to business as well.
Spencer Greenberg: [00:02:12] I think especially things like probability theory.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:02:14] Yes, probability theory makes a lot of sense. It seems like something that would be useful in deciding whether or not you're going to achieve a certain outcome, which I think is the whole point of business in the first place. Like we have a better chance of not losing our shirt then we do have actually doing so. And I think for a lot of us in business, even if we're not mathematicians, so like everyone else, we are mostly just going off of a gut instinct a lot of the time, and we make calculations that we hire people to make calculations, but our calculations in our own head are nothing. They're not exactly done on pen and paper for most of us, I think sure the accounting is, but for a lot of us we're just making bets really.
Spencer Greenberg: [00:02:55] Right. And I think that a mathematical way of looking at the world, it doesn't necessarily mean you're always making calculations, but the way you think about things is in line with kind of mathematical theory. So the idea is, for example, if you get some piece of evidence, how much evidence is that? Is that a lot? Is that a little? Mathematical theorems actually tell us some information about that, and they can guide the way we think, even if we're not doing an actual calculation.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:03:19] So today, I want to focus on this skill of noticing bad logic. Misleading arguments, bad logic, invalid, can we say invalid logic or poor logic or nonexisting logic?
Spencer Greenberg: [00:03:30] Absolutely.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:03:33] And in today's day and age, as I see this as extremely important, I'm a big fan of critical thinking. I'm a big fan of knowing how to think about problems, knowing how to think about arguments. And I was always one of those kids who after high school or in college, I guess it must've been college because I was able to vote. I'd see these commercials on TV and they would say something like, “Vote no on prop seven unless you want to defund public schools.” And my mom, a public school teacher would be like, “I don't want to defund public schools. I'm going to vote no on prop seven,” and I'm like, “Well let's research this a little bit.”
[00:04:05] So I'd go on the Internet and I'd go, “All right, what is this exactly do?” Oh, it allows gambling on certain property in Michigan, which is not good for people. Gambling is addictive. It's a vice. It's going to be on these Indian reservations which is fine in theory, but then there's going to be or it's like allows them to market outside of that or something. It was something like along those lines. And I thought this is actually really bad. We're not defunding public schools. You're just not taxing casinos because they won't be able to advertise to people all over the State of Michigan. Whereas before, I think they could only have signage on their own property or something like this.
Spencer Greenberg: [00:04:45] Absolutely.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:04:47] That's intentionally misleading and they've got this kind of like old kind of looking guy and he's like, “I care about where my kids go to school,” and it's like “You're in a gambling commercial.” This is a commercial for gambling, not against defunding public schools.
Spencer Greenberg: [00:05:03] And I think that's a really good segue into what I think one of the most important fallacies to understand is, which is sometimes called black or white thinking, which is the idea of thinking of a thing as being all good or all bad or completely true or completely false. And this happens a lot with things when you're considering, let's say a bill being passed by politicians, people tend to think of it like, “Oh, that bill is good” or “That bill is bad.” But actually these are huge conglomerates of all of these different subcomponents, some of which might be good in some ways and others bad in other ways and so on. Yet, the way the human brain works is we want to say, “no, that's good or that's bad,” and that's actually really, really problematic.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:05:42] Yeah, I've heard of black and white thinking before and it seems like a really obvious black and white concept in itself. Okay, somethings all good or all bad. I never do that. I always look at all the evidence and balance it, and then it's like, “Well, wait a minute. Hold on a second. What's going on here?” And I think this is human nature in a lot of ways. We are -- maybe we're wired for black and white thinking. It's easier for me to say people who look like me are good and people who don't look like me are bad because it saves me a lot of work, right?
Spencer Greenberg: [00:06:12] Absolutely. But I would say just because we're hardwired for it doesn't mean we have to do it. We can learn to be more nuance. We can learn to think in gray, and this actually is almost a perfect segue into another really common fallacy, the naturalistic fallacy. When people assume that because something is natural, that means it's good or the way it should be. Cancer is natural, but cancer is very bad, for example. And so the same with many of these biases. Many of these biases are natural. They're things that are programmed into our brains that came about through evolution because they had certain survival advantages in certain environments hundreds of thousands of years ago. But in the modern world today, they can get us in trouble and we can learn to do better in many cases.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:06:52] So how do we do that better? What are we looking for? First of all, how do we spot this black and white thinking? Because I think it's sort of seems obvious to me that we can see this, but at the same time, if it were that obvious and awareness was all we needed to fix the problem, nobody would have this problem in the first place.
Spencer Greenberg: [00:07:10] Well, I think one of the most important things is not just awareness and it makes sense, but awareness at the right moment. So imagine that you're thinking about some new bill that's coming out and you have this feeling that this is a good thing for the world or a bad thing for the world. That's the right moment to have a thought, “Hey, am I engaging in black and white thinking?” If you had that thought the right moment, then you can do an override of like your default behavior. You can then say, “Oh wait, maybe there's some good aspects, some bad aspects.” Or maybe you can say, “It's not really that, I'm totally sure this is good. Maybe I'm 80 percent sure this is good.” And so a big part of this actually noticing the pattern at the right moment, and so building up that pattern recognizer for fallacies and biases so that they pop into your awareness, and then using what soon as your system too, which is your like conscious rational analytical part of your mind to override your system one, which is sort of the automatic kind of more primal part of your brain that this intuitive power your brain during those times when the intuition is going to go haywire.
[00:08:14] So a lot of times our intuition and our kind of automatic part of our brain does a really good job. That's why it's there. But sometimes it goes haywire, and that's what we're talking about. The cases where it's known to cause problems.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:08:25] How do we enhance our ability to notice that we're doing this in the moment? Because I think it's, maybe it's a little bit subconscious, right? Maybe we don't think we often do this subconsciously we don't go, “I'm going to oversimplify this problem to the point of unfairness to the other party.” And I'm going to say “This is always bad and this is always good.” Our brain just kind of jumps to those judgements and we don't necessarily -- we kind of have to stop ourselves and think, “Is this fair? Does this make sense?” And most of us aren't going to do that. We're too lazy or we're too busy or we don't even see the problem with that line of thinking the first place.
Spencer Greenberg: [00:08:56] Right. Well, to be honest, in a lot of ways it resembles something like martial arts. When you first learned martial arts, you have to consciously know how to do the moves. If you don't have a conscious awareness of how to do the move, then you're not going to be able to do it at all. And when you're first starting out, you really have to do it explicitly. You have to say, “Okay, I have to remember how do I do this punch? How do I throw this kick?” and then like think about it and then do it. Eventually over time of after a lot of training, it becomes subconscious because in a fight you don't have time to think about it, but has to start with a thought and that means first of all, you have to know how to do that -- you have to know what the move is, you have to know how to do it, and you have to feel motivated to do it, and then with practice you can -- it becomes automatic. And so until eventually the moment someone speaks something, you immediately think, “Oh, that was such, such fallacy.” And then now you have this conscious override of what you're ever your default reaction would be.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:09:48] Okay, so we're bringing some conscious awareness of this and trying to keep our brains from thinking this is automatically true or this is automatically falls. So this is automatically totally good or totally bad. We want to think in terms of probabilities or maybe shades of gray. And this reminds me a little bit of what we talked about with Annie Duke. Have you read her book Thinking in Bets?
Spencer Greenberg: [00:10:08] I have, I've heard about it. I haven't read it yet.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:10:10] Yeah, I think a lot of that sounds familiar from the book. Essentially, instead of looking at something and saying this is A, B, or C, it's I'm 90 percent sure, I'm 75 percent sure of this. So when you think in bets, you're not necessarily -- you're getting rid of black and white thinking, you're not thinking this is a winner. You're thinking I'm 78 percent sure this is a winner based on all these different factors, which allows us to bring an awareness to the idea that we may not be totally right or totally wrong about something or that maybe we're never going to be 100 percent right about anything or 100 percent sure about anything in the moment.
Spencer Greenberg: [00:10:45] Exactly.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:10:45] And that makes it easier to look at things in shades of gray.
Spencer Greenberg: [00:10:50] Right. And the first step is accepting that premise that you can never be 100 percent sure about anything. It's sort of like the first step in martial arts is saying, “Okay, I'm going to train in this martial art. It's like, okay, the first step is saying probabilities are the way to describe reality. You really can't be 100 percent sure, which means everything is now shade of gray. Now all shades of gray are not equal. Some are -- 99 percent sure, some are 90 percent, some are 50 percent, but that's of the accepting that framework is the first step, and then there's a lot of techniques you can do to build on that to become a more nuance, more accurate thinker. One technique that I use, that I enjoyed doing, some people would find it very unpleasant is actually make explicit predictions about important things in my life. I assign probabilities to them. I track them and see whether they come true or not.
[00:11:38] If you practice, you're working in probabilities and actually track whether you're right or not. Over time you can become what they call probabilistically calibrated, which means that if you say something 90 percent likely, it actually happens 90 percent of the time. If you say it's 70 percent likely it had been 70 percent of the time. So your probability is actually mean what they're supposed to mean.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:11:58] Gotcha, okay. And so how do we orient ourselves more towards that frame of mind? Are there things that we can do to work these muscles out in our brain?
Spencer Greenberg: [00:12:08] Absolutely. So first of all, reframing the things you believe as probability. So when you catch yourself saying, “I believe X or X is true.” Just do a quick mental shift and say, “Well, well, okay, but how sure am I?” “Okay, a 90 percent chance X is true. So to convert those like those black and white thinking statements, this is true too, I'm 90 percent confident, and that that's kind of step one. Another part of the process is then learning to ship those probabilities. So suppose I'm really confident something, I'm 95 percent sure it's true, and I get a little bit of counter evidence against it. The typical human thing to do is just to dismiss that kind of evidence and say, “Hey, well I'm really sure of this thing, the counterevidence isn't that strong so I'm going to completely ignore it the counter evidence. But let's say then next week you get some more counterevidence and then the following week give them more. The problem is if every time you dismiss it, you never learn. So instead of just dismissing it each time, a technique you learn is to actually adjust your probabilities a little bit. Say, “Oh I was 95 percent now I'm only 90 percent because I got a little bit of counterevidence.” And so over time -- that's another part of probabilistic thinking is doing these adjustments.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:13:17] Right. So if we dismiss counterevidence, even if that counterevidence would have added up to something that would've changed our mind, we're starting at zero every time. So you can get a hundred pieces of counterevidence to your one piece of current evidence. But if you get them all at a different time, you're not persuaded if you're not actually weighing it as percentage.
Spencer Greenberg: [00:13:35] Exactly. And this is part of why black or white thinking leads to really bad thinking, where people don't never change their mind. Because once you decide something's true, unless you get an absolutely overwhelming amount of evidence all at once, you're just going to continue believing it for the rest of your life perhaps.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:13:51] Gotcha. Okay, that makes a lot of sense. And I think a lot of us do this subconsciously. So if we're having black and white thinking, if we're feel like we're falling victim to black and white thinking, if that's not too dramatic, then what we should do is what? Think of something in our life that we view as totally good, totally bad or true or false, and then how do we start to examine the nuances, or how do we open ourselves up to counter evidence, especially if we've dismissed that counter evidence in the past?
Spencer Greenberg: [00:14:20] Well, once you take that statement, I believe X or X is true, and rewrite it as a probability. I'm 90 percent confident X is true. Immediately now you've opened the door to changing your mind because you're only 90 percent confident. It means there's a 10 percent chance in your view that you're wrong. So now it's a lot easier to say, “Oh, I've got some evidence against it.” Well now I'm only 80 percent confidence. It's not, you know, you've already opened the door to being wrong, and I think that's kind of a crucial first step.
Jason DeFillippo: [00:14:47] You're listening to the Jordan Harbinger Show with our guests, Spencer Greenberg. We'll be right back.
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Jason DeFillippo: [00:17:48] See if you have what it takes to get into the mind of a serial killer and solve the mystery. Don't forget we have a worksheet for today's episode so you can make sure you solidify your understanding of the key takeaways from Spencer Greenberg. That link is in the show notes at jordanharbinger.com/podcast. Thanks for listening and supporting the show. To learn more about our sponsors and get links to all the great discounts you just heard, visit jordanharbinger.com/deals. If you'd like some tips on how to subscribe to the show, just go to jordanharbinger.com/subscribe, and now back to our show with Spencer Greenberg.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:18:21] So black and white thinking, obviously something that's poisoning a lot of arguments these days, poisoning ourselves really is what's happening here. But when we're discussing topics, especially controversial topics with others, what I see a lot is cherry picking. We're debating and board maybe not really trying to figure out the truth, we just kind of want to be right.
Spencer Greenberg: [00:18:43] Yeah, and I think this is a really part and point, which is that there's two kinds of ways that we reason or argue. One is when we're trying to just convince others. It's a battle. The other is where we're actually trying to figure out the truth. My friend Julia Galef has a wonderful TED talk about this and is writing a book about this. She calls it a soldier mindset versus scout mindset. And the idea is a soldier in the soldier mindset, you're just trying to win. You're using any thing you can grab and throw your opponent. In the scout mindset, you're really trying to figure out what is true. I want to know what reality is. And in any given person, of course, sometimes you're going to be in one mode and sometimes you're going to be in the other. But it's really, really important that you'd not accidentally be in soldier mindset when you should be in scouts, and this happens a lot. For example, maybe if you're just trying to argue that your favorite football team is the best, fine. It doesn't really matter. Sure, you can be in soldier mindset just arguing, trying to find any argument you can throw at your opponent.
[00:19:43] But let's say you're trying to figure out, well, how do I treat this serious medical condition? Do I use, do I use homeopathy? Do I go to a doctor? What do I do? You'd better be in scout mindset. Your life literally might depend on it. But the thing is that people are very often used to just arguing for their side and that's where cherry picking comes in. That people -- cherry picking is a technique to win an argument where you try to just find an example that supports your argument. The problem with cherry picking is it the other side can almost always find example of supports their argument. It's completely a symmetric with regard to whether something's true or false. Regardless of this things to your faults, you can probably cherry pick examples to support it. So it's a very, very bad way to figure out the truth even though it can be an effective way to just try to beat down your opponent and arguments.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:20:29] So why are we -- how do we counteract this? Because of course, yes, it's great to pick out, it's great to cherry pick. It's really nice to go, “Oh yeah, well here's this one side, this one thing that supports my evidence,” and you just kind of hope they don't come up with anything else. And we cherry picked, make our side look strong even if the other side can pick examples to make their side look just as strong. So what do we do specifically to counteract?
Spencer Greenberg: [00:20:57] Well, I think the crucial question when you're considering something is do you really want to know the truth about this thing? And part of that's going to depend on why you're arguing about it, is it very serious? Is it important? Does it have serious life consequences for you? And if you decide you really want to know the truth, you better switch into scout mindset and that means that you better be you not using cherry picking. You better be using techniques that are valid forms of argument. You must be looking for valid forms of evidence. If you decide that you don't really care about knowing the truth and you just want to win, then you know you can use all these other techniques. And I think that's the first crucial step is do I really want to know the truth?
[00:21:34] And this comes up a lot. For example, when we're learning information about ourselves, which is that let's say you know, let say we're getting a critique from our boss. Now that can be really, really valuable. That might actually change the course. If we pay attention to that critique, really take it to heart and become better from it. Maybe that will change the course of our career and have huge positive benefits. On the other hand, maybe we don't want to hear it, maybe it's hurtful, maybe it makes us feel bad about ourselves and so there's a crucial choice to make is, do I want another truth or do I want to argue that these things are not true, but just to make myself feel better?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:22:07] All right, so we have to kind of be honest with ourselves and with others. Look, do I really want to find out what's right or am I just trying to look good on television or the radio generally?
Spencer Greenberg: [00:22:16] Exactly. And this is probably why debates are so silly most of the time, like public debates on TV because they're not about the truth at all. They're just people slinging it. Just try people trying to win a battle.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:22:26] Right, yeah. It's a political or performance in a way. Nobody wants to get up on stage and go, “You know I hadn't ever considered that. You're right, I'm not as smart as you.” Nobody's ever going to do that.
Spencer Greenberg: [00:22:36] Exactly.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:22:37] Yeah, so we definitely want to make sure that we're looking at the evidence as a bulk rather than using specific examples. But of course before that, underlying all that is, yeah, do I want to know the truth? And that's a tough question for us to ask ourselves. I think a lot of people don't want to sit there and go, “Not really, I'm more interested in looking good.” No, it's really hard to get past that ego, right?
Spencer Greenberg: [00:22:58] Right. But then the question is, “Do you want to know the truth about that too? Do you want to know the truth about your motivations?”
Jordan Harbinger: [00:23:03] Yeah, I suppose your -- I suppose you're right there.
Spencer Greenberg: [00:23:05] Because I mean we all kind of want to think positively of our self. I'll tell you something that I do that really helps me with this, which is that I imagine two worlds. World A, I find out this painful truth about the thing and then I work to correct it. Well, this flaw in myself. World B, I continue diluting myself and thinking I don't have the flaw for the rest of my life. Once I frame it that way, I'm like, “I'd much rather all day. I much rather know that that thing about myself and then be able to work to correct it then to live a life where I'm diluting myself,” and two, that's just a thought experiment that I find very motivating.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:23:40] So exactly how do you do that? Do you sit down and write it? Do you just ask yourself these questions while you're on the subway? How do you exactly execute that?
Spencer Greenberg: [00:23:48] Well, for me it's really just like, I imagine visualize these two scenarios. So it's like let's say -- let say I have gotten a piece of feedback and my temptation is to just deny that it's true because I don't want to feel bad about myself. It's critical feedback. Then I want to visualize these two worlds and say, “Okay, forget for a moment whether it's actually true or not.” Let's only imagine these two worlds, both worlds where it is true. One where it's true, I learned about it and I work to improve it. The other where it's true, I deny it and I never figure it out. And it's just clear to me once I actually imagine worlds, so which one I want? I want to be in the one where I know the truth about my flaws and work to correct them. So that's kind of a technique that gets me motivated.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:24:29] And I love this concept of trying to maybe deconstruct our own thinking and our own bias. It's really easy to just say, “I want to get past other people's bias, but it's even more important to get past our own.” And I think taking evidence as a bulk, deciding whether or not we actually want the truth and opting, choosing to prefer methods of argument that are easier to use effectively is a part of getting to the truth and that that is easier said than done because especially if you've already stated something in public, to go back on that and say, “I was wrong without a,” and we see this all the time in the news. People waiting until they're just faced with so many consequences in a bald faced lie or blatantly being wrong on the wrong side of something, then people go, “Well, you know I've got a lot of growing to do or something like that.” And it's just seems so disingenuous. Ideally we get to that point first.
Spencer Greenberg: [00:25:22] Well, the reality is a lot of what we do is social, a lot of our beliefs are social and why is it that police that seem like they have nothing to do with each other are so correlated. Like why is it that people who tend to be against abortion tend to be pro-death penalty? What's the connection? And a lot of these things are related to our group identities. A lot of the times when we're debating it's related to group identity, it's related to social stats related to being proving yourself right to others and things like that. And so that's another key element here is, is identifying like, “Well, am I playing a social game here? Am I trying to fit in in a group? Am I trying to be one with my identity or am I actually trying to figure out the truth?” And if your life is on the line or it's a really important thing about your career or whatever, you need to be careful that you're not just playing a social game, you're actually going into scout mindset and trying to figure out what's real.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:26:15] Now next up something I learned in law school quite -- I heard I should say in law school and only learned it probably after hearing it a hundred times. The straw man and the steel man, and these are logical fallacies that I find to be so common and yet most of us don't know we're using them when we use them. I don't know what it is about these logical fallacies. I guess human nature just builds these into us in a lot of ways because we always want to be right or prove our point or show some sort of strength in front of other people. And straw man is just one of the most common arguments that we see that that turns out to be false. Can you tell us what this is, why this is dangerous and what we can do instead?
Spencer Greenberg: [00:27:01] Yeah, so straw man is a very common technique people use when they're debating, where basically they attack a weakened version of someone else's beliefs that the person doesn't really believe. And the reason they attack the weakened versions because it's easier to disprove the weekend version, but to others and maybe themselves, they feel like they've won the debate. Like you believe X, I attack, I don't attack X. I attack some tweets version of X that's easier to refute. And then I say “Ha-ha, I beat you.” And the steel man is kind of the opposite of this. A steal man is where we take someone else's argument and we try to formulate the strongest version of it that we can to better learn. Like let's say you give me an argument for something you truly believe in and I don't think it's that strong an argument. I can still learn from it by thinking, “Okay, maybe the way you stated it wasn't the strongest form of it.” What is the strongest form of that argument? Let me actually think about that and then let me think about the strongest version of it because that's the version that you need. If you're trying to figure out the truth, that's the version you need to grapple with. When you're dealing with the truth. It doesn't matter how many weak arguments there are for a thing. What matters are the best arguments.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:28:09] I saw this a lot in law school of course, and I see it a lot now, especially among people who are not trained to look for these sort of fallacies. We try to win arguments by representing the weakest form of the argument on the other side as you stated, but if we really, again, if we get down to brass tacks and we ask ourselves honestly, if we really want to find out the truth, we really want to do the opposite of this, so being able to spot a straw man. Can you take us through this? What's an example of one that you think is common these days, maybe in pop culture or something like that? And how do we know what we're looking at when we see a straw man?
Spencer Greenberg: [00:28:42] An example might be someone arguing in favor of lowering the minimum wage. And other people might say, “Lowering the minimum wage. That's crazy. Clearly what's really going on here is that you're just trying to have businesses keep more money because you're pro-business or something like this.” But there might actually be other reasons why they're arguing for that. So you're kind of like, you're basically kind of like assuming that something about their argument that weakens it. Whereas in reality, maybe what they're worried about is unemployment. They're worried that in that area, a minimum wage just too high causing companies not to hire enough people causing too much unemployment and so they're actually, they are worried about the workers, but they think this is a better solution for the workers in that particular case. So very often this happens that the there's a particular argument for a thing and we make a bunch of assumptions about that argument that make it easier to refute, but until you actually dig into all the reasons underlying it, you may not fully understand it and you may also mean I may miss out on something valuable to learn from it.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:29:48] Maybe this is a different logical fallacy, but what is it when we're actually mischaracterizing the other side's arguments? So someone says, “I'm pro-life,” and somebody says, “Oh, you must hate women.” And it's like, “Well, no, that's not really what we're doing here.” Is that also straw man or is that something completely different?
Spencer Greenberg: [00:30:07] You know, I think it's a gray area to speak. Like we were talking about before, but yeah, I mean I think you could consider that as a straw man if you said, “Oh, well your real argument is that women don't matter,” or something like that.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:30:21] Right.
Spencer Greenberg: [00:30:22] That'd be mischaracterizing the argument, but also a straw man argument.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:30:25] Okay.
Spencer Greenberg: [00:30:25] And a lot of the things we've been talking about, these sound very theoretical and you might wonder, well, but how can I actually do this stuff? Like this is all very impractical to like always be thinking in this way. One of the companies I found at clear thinking this is exactly what we help people do. We have a whole bunch of free tools on our website, clear thinking.org where we train you in these techniques. So we have one on cognitive biases, it's called mental traps. It's an interactive program. We have another one on rhetorical fallacies, which are these common ways that people in an argument basically make fallacious arguments to then manipulate people or the way we make fallacious arguments that manipulate our own beliefs to feel better about ourselves and things like that. We have a program called the belief challenger that actually helps you challenge your deeply held beliefs and think about the alternatives. So while it sounds theoretical, actually a lot of this is very practical.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:31:15] Yeah. This stuff is practical and you'll see it a lot when you start looking for things like straw man, black and white thinking, and some of the other stuff we'll go over in a minute. You really do see this everywhere. You'll see it from your parents, you'll see it from your spouse, you'll see it from your kids, certainly if you have any.
Spencer Greenberg: [00:31:29] Absolutely.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:31:29] You’ll see it at people work, you'll see it on television, you'll see it from politicians obviously, and you'll read it in articles and it's really useful to be able to deconstruct this stuff. So if you're listening and you're going, what? I don't -- I'm not going to be writing complex policy. I don't really need this. You're going to be able to see different shades in pretty much any argument, opinion piece of journalism, article, book, anywhere. And I feel like I use these a lot on the show as well when I'm researching guests. I look at these fallacies and the this different type of thinking and go, “Oh, okay, this person's saying this, does it actually mean that?” And of course, I'd like to think I'm trying to get to the truth and sometimes my own bias creeps in, of course, as it always does.
Spencer Greenberg: [00:32:10] That's forever -- that’s forever o.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:32:12] Yes. And what I do see, one thing I learned in law school that I always thought was really interesting and very hard to do was the idea that we should zealously try to argue the other side of an argument. So this is kind of your steel man concept, which we'll go over in a second, but you'd hear an argument and you would just be -- your gut would say, “No, I don't like that. I disagree with this. I hate everything about this. It makes me feel bad and I'm looking for a reason to reject this.” And then it's instead of saying, let's argue against this and try to find all the reasons I hate it, that I can back up, that our logical, other than it just goes against my religion or my upbringing, or it makes me feel bad in some other way. What we would do is actually do the opposite. We would say, “Huh, let me think about why I want to create some policy in theory or why I might want to create some policy in theory that makes it so people can't get citizenship unless they make over $100,000 a year and at some job or something like this.” And you zealously argue that side and you find not only some emotional understanding of the other side, but of course, you find all the holes in your own argument as well.
Spencer Greenberg: [00:33:23] Exactly, yeah. And that's an incredibly valuable technique, and actually we have a free tool called the belief challenger that literally teaches you that technique and they'll help you practice it. It's one of the best ways to double check your own thinking. And you know, and I think going back to this question of why does this stuff matter? Well, it matters in so far as your beliefs matter. If you don't think your beliefs matter, if you don't think it matters what you think is true, then yes, this stuff is irrelevant. But I tend to think that actually our beliefs matter a great deal because they influence decisions we make, they influence what we try to achieve, the influence how we try to achieve things and they also influence a bunch of practical life decisions like who we decided to marry, where we decide to live, what kind of work we decide to do.
[00:34:05] And so what we're really talking about fundamentally are the methods by which you form true beliefs as opposed to false place, and the methods attend to lead the true beliefs are the good epistemic methods and the methods that tend to lead the bad beliefs are the bad ones. And the technique you gave where you try to take the other side and give the strongest argument you can. If the other side is a great technique for forming true rather than false beliefs.
Jason DeFillippo: [00:34:30] You're listening to the Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest, Spencer Greenberg. We'll be right back after this.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:34:35] This episode is also sponsored by Candid. This is a sponsor I chased down like crazy. I wanted to originally get those clear, I don’t know what you call them braces I guess, something to straighten out your teeth. And I found Candid, and I just loved their marketing. I loved their customer support. I love dealing with this company. I know that sounds really strange because it's like real talk. It's a dental thing, but you get straighter and brighter teeth in like six months. Mine's going to end up being five and a half. It's not expensive at all. And the white glove customer service, I was skeptical. I was like, “Yeah, what does that even mean?” They are texting, they're sending me photos of things. They sent me a 3D video demo of what my teeth are going to look like Jason. So it's like, here's your first week, here's your second week, and so this 3D model of my teeth go from where they are now to really, really straight, and they show you what each sort of two weeks segment, because they send you these aligners every two weeks. They send you the new ones and it shows what it's going to look like. It's really, really cool. And Candid only uses orthodontists while other aligner companies, they like dental professionals, which is --
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Jason DeFillippo: [00:37:55] Thanks for listening and supporting the show. Your support of our advertisers is what keeps us on the air and that's no joke. To learn more and get links to all the great discounts you just heard, visit jordanharbinger.com/deals, and don't forget the worksheet for today's episode. That link is in the show notes at jordanharbinger.com/podcast, and now for the conclusion of our interview with Spencer Greenberg.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:38:17] So tell us about the steel man. I know I sort of stole your thunder a little bit because zealously argued the other side is kind of what that is. But I would love to hear your version as well because I think from a practical standpoint, which is what the show's about, it's extremely useful.
Spencer Greenberg: [00:38:33] Yeah, exactly. It is very much related to what you were saying, but imagine so the straw man remember is giving a weakened version of your opponent's arguments so you can use more easily refute it. So imagine a straw man blowing in the wind is real easy to knock over. The steel man is the opposite. You take the argument your opponent gave and you build it up, you make it as strong as you can and you consider that version of the argument, not necessarily when you're debating them because that might be really frustrating for them to ignore the argument they give and instead replace with a stronger argument. But on your own time you make a stronger version of the argument and that's the one you have to grapple with, because again, if we're thinking about the truth, all that matters is the strongest argument in favor of a thing. It doesn't matter, there could be a thousand weak arguments that's irrelevant. And this actually goes to another fallacy called the fallacy fallacy where just because there's a bad argument for something doesn't mean a thing is true because there might be some other argument you haven't thought of that actually is really strong.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:39:25] Okay, so essentially pick an argument made by the other group and try to steal man this thing, find or come up with the strongest version of that argument that we can and then hopefully discover that the other side has some good points and deepen our understanding of the truth possibly change our mind, but let's be realistic probably not, but at least find the holes in our own argument and get closer to what actually might be.
Spencer Greenberg: [00:39:51] Yeah, and maybe at least just how confident we are. But maybe, maybe you don't completely flip your opinion, but now you're a little bit less confident you are, and then that opens a door to maybe changing your mind down the road.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:40:02] Can you explain the fallacy fallacy again? I think I was giggling to myself while you said that and possibly missed it. I think that's a ridiculous name, but--
Spencer Greenberg: [00:40:10] It is.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:40:11] Can you drop that on me one more time.
Spencer Greenberg: [00:40:13] Basically what can happen, one of the drawbacks of learning about this stuff is that people will start using it as weapons, instead of thinking about this as tools to figure out the truth, they think of it, “Oh, I have some cool new weapons to batter my opponent with.” So your opponent makes an argument or something and you say, “That's such and such fallacy, therefore you're wrong.” But refuting someone's argument by even correctly labeling as the fallacy doesn't mean that the person's wrong. You could have 10 fallacious arguments in favor of something and it could still be true because all you need is one correct argument that's valid for something to be true. So the fact that there's a bad argument being made, it doesn't mean that the person who's making arguments wrong, maybe they're just not -- maybe they're just not doing good job of explaining why the things true.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:40:59] Yeah, I've definitely been guilty of this. You know, I learned what the two cloak is, where if someone else does it to the same thing that you're pointing out as bad behavior and I'll go, “Ah, the old two cloak,” and they're like, “Crap.” And I can just -- I sit back as they furiously Google what that is, or at least that's what I assume they're doing. And then I'm like, “Damn, I did that.” And it's a logical fallacy and I just sort of like sit back and smoke my imaginary pipe and “Go, I'm right--
Spencer Greenberg: [00:41:24] Exactly.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:41:25] Because I use the Latin or whatever. And people are like, “Oh, he's a lawyer. He's smart.” But none of that's really happening, that's all that's going on in my head all that. And what's really happening is they're like, “Yeah, but I'm still right even though I can't think of a cool Latin phrase to counteract yours. I'm still right.” But I've stopped looking for the actual truth at that point because I've sort of flipped over my -- I lay down my hand of cards and I was just like, “Yeah, I've got a full house here, so suck it.”
Spencer Greenberg: [00:41:54] Exactly.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:41:54] And that's the fallacy fallacy. Interesting.
Spencer Greenberg: [00:41:57] Exactly. I like to think of our beliefs using a metaphor of a multilevel house, and the house has a bunch of pillars which are the sort of the core underpinnings that kind of hold up our belief structure. The thing is, if you're arguing with someone, let's say you're arguing about a belief that's like at the third level of the house. So there's all of these other pillars of the belief that support that belief. You might knock down that pillar on the third level and nothing happens. So you think, “Oh well, they're saying that he believed this because of X. If I just refute that, if our refute X well, then I win the argument. I've changed their mind.” Well, that's usually not true because actually there's a whole bunch of these pillars holding up that belief and X is just what did they happen to say about it at this moment, it's just one of those pillars. And so one way to think about this, if you're actually trying to change someone's mind is you can ask the question, what are the weight bearing pillars in their belief system? What are the ones where if you actually changed their mind on that thing, then they would change their mind about the topic? And most of it -- most of the things we say are not weight bearing.
They're not things where, “Oh, someone refuted it. We just changed our world year.” Right?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:43:06] Right. So if somebody says, “Hey, the ocean is salty because a long time ago somebody dropped a magic salt shaker into the ocean while it was switched on and now we've got all this salty water. That's not correct obviously. Science doesn't support that, but we don't just have to refute that that magic salt shaker thing never happened. We still have to figure out why the ocean is salty. So it's really tempting, and that example is so obvious. Of course, you're still wrong about why the ocean is salty, but we do this with complex concepts all the time. We just say, “Oh, well that person believes that because they're religious or this person believes that because they grew up in New York City.” So of course, since that's not the case with everybody else here, the whole thing is wrong.
And it's like, “Well, wait a minute. Just because the rationale behind something is wrong doesn't mean that the concept itself is wrong. Or the reason that someone believes something is wrong doesn't mean that the belief itself is wrong.” And that's tricky to wrap our mind around sometimes.
Spencer Greenberg: [00:44:05] I think one interesting example is that sometimes people will make these kind of a natural in this argument's like someone might say, “Well, homosexuality is unnatural, therefore it's bad.” And someone else might go and they actually might look at what's natural and they might study the animal kingdom and they might say, “Hey, actually homosexuality appears in all kinds of animals species. So actually you're wrong about it being on natural.” And what do you think is goanna happen when that debate occurs? Like do you think that person is suddenly going to be like, “Oh actually homosexuality is correct, it's fine then because I thought it was unnatural but I was just prove it.” No, that's not what's going to happen. It turns out for the vast majority people making an argument like that, that that statement, “Oh, it's unnatural.” It's not really the weightbearing pillar of their belief system. You can knock down that pillar and they'll continue believing it's wrong, and if you really dig into it, you really investigate it, you might find that there are other kind of core cornerstone beliefs are actually holding up that belief about homosexuality. And this is generally, I think how our belief systems work is that we have a lot of reasons for believing things. But only certain of them are actually going to -- if you need to be knocked down to actually change our mind.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:45:11] All right, so moving right along. The typical mind fallacy. This is something that I learned a long time ago. I never knew it had a name, of course, like both fallacies. But we tend to assume that other people's minds work similarly to our own, but the reality is that people are very different from each other. Tell us what this means, because I think for a lot of us, we go, wait -- this might be the first we ever heard of this.
Spencer Greenberg: [00:45:34] Yeah. So this is a really interesting one. We only have direct experience with one mind, which is our own. And so when we think about the way people are, the thing that our brain tends to do is it simulates them. But the thing is, it's using our own brain to simulate them. It's imagining ourselves in that scenario and how we would react or what we would do. And this actually creates a lot of problems between people. Because for example, let's say your spouse forgets your birthday. You might get very upset because you might think, I would never forget their birthday. This must mean they don't care about me or something like that. But maybe their mind works really differently than yours. Maybe they're not the sort of person that tends to remember things like birthdays and this has just been a universal truth about them for a long time. It has to do with the way their memory works and it actually says nothing about how they feel about you.
[00:46:24] So the fact that you forgetting someone's birthday might mean that you don't care about them, doesn't mean that that's true about them. An interesting kind of example of this that's happened to me fairly recently is I learned that a friend of mine has very different mind than mine in a very specific way. A question for you at any given moment, how many emotions would you say you're typically experiencing?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:46:47] Oh my gosh, I have no idea. It's theirs -- Oh gosh, so zero but probably so many that it just looks like zero because it's like white noise. I don’t know.
Spencer Greenberg: [00:46:59] Yeah, it's a tough question. So for me, I would say that typically my typical emotional state is I have a low level mood that usually I have when I woke up at like last for hours and it's not very strong, and then I'll have like either zero or one emotion on top of that and that will be at a reaction to what just happened. So if nothing really happened, I might have zero. If like something just happened that was good or bad, I might have one kind of stronger emotion on top of that. A friend of mine I recently learned at any given moment, she's feeling between two and four emotions all the time and they're usually very strong. And when she says she's a happy person, what she means is that typically like two or three positive emotions she's experiencing outweigh the two or three really strong negative emotions she's feeling. Whereas when I say I'm a happy person, that means that that most of the time I'm in a like a positive mood.
[00:47:52] So we actually mean like totally different things and our minds work very differently with regard to emotions. And this is something that despite knowing her for years, I had never noticed about her. So that's just one example of the typical mind fallacies that we tend to assume people are way more like us and they actually are.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:48:08] Why does this happen? This seems strange because I guess yes, we only have experienced with one mind, but how different are our minds or can we never really kind of know that?
Spencer Greenberg: [00:48:17] I mean, I actually think they're pretty radically different, because first of all, the way people will behave radically differently. Some people, their ideal Friday night is to sit at home reading a book. Other people, it's to go out partying until 4 a.m in a large crowd and with loud music blaring. So there's massive behavioral differences. Some people would, if they found a dollar on the street that it's been 10 minutes trying to figure out who it belonged to, other people would go into a bank and rob it. So just on the behavioral side, we see massive differences. On personality, we see massive differences, on conscientiousness, extroversion, neuroticism, you can measure those things and you can just see there's a whole spectrum. Most people are in the middle, but if you compare it to people at the extremes, they're radically different. And I think my suspicion of why this happens is that it's actually basically has to do with the way we model people. Our default mode for trying to figure out the way other people work or react is to literally kind of run a simulation in our own brain of that person, but we're using our brain, so in fact it's biased by the way our own brain works.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:49:22] Well, that makes sense. And also is really frustrating if you're trying to get closer to the truth.
Spencer Greenberg: [00:49:27] Exactly. And actually it comes up in argument too, because we can assume other people have bad motivations because we think that if we made -- what’s with the other person said we would have bad motivations. So we might -- it can actually cause us to kind of mischaracterize other people or assume bad things about them when they're aren't really true.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:49:46] Interesting. It sort of has a head nod to the fundamental attribution error where we judge other people based on their behavior. But we judge ourselves based on our intentions. So if we're late, it's because there was a lot of traffic and because our kids were crying and I needed to make sure that I got this done safely because somebody else needed it so you don't understand. But if somebody else is late, it's like, “Well, you're an irresponsible prick who doesn't care about anybody else's time.” So this isn't quite the same thing, but it still has a little bit of a head nod to that because yeah, maybe if somebody is bumping around and stepping on my foot and kicks me twice under beneath the table, I think you are a clumsy person that doesn't ever care -- you don't care about other people's personal space. And yet that's because if I did that, it would be that for that reason, because I know better or because I was raised differently or because I have a different spacial awareness or something like that.
Spencer Greenberg: [00:50:41] Exactly.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:50:41] Whereas somebody else doesn't have that. They’ve gone 40, 50 years, they've never known that they are constantly kicking other people under the table. When they kick their wife, she doesn't say anything cause she's really nice. So nobody's ever said anything to this poor guy.
Spencer Greenberg: [00:50:54] Exactly. And I think when people have deficits in certain areas, like social deficits, this comes up too. Someone might think, “Oh, that person's really rude, the person's really obnoxious.” But maybe that person is just -- is bad at reading facial expressions, bad at reading voice. And so they say things that offend people and they literally don't realize they've offended anyone, and so they never learned to not.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:51:15] I want to wrap with one that we hear all the time. You hear this see screamed a lot all the time on the news and in books and in magazines and in classes with smart people and not so smart people where they say, “Well, correlation doesn't imply causation.” And people go, “Oh yeah, okay.” And then half of us go, “What was that? Why does that? What does that even mean? I don't understand that.” Or they say, “Yeah, that's true.” And then we kind of let it drop not knowing that maybe it's not even relevant in the moment.
Spencer Greenberg: [00:51:43] Yep, exactly.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:51:43] So what's going on with -- what does it mean when people say, well, correlation implies causation or correlation doesn't imply causation?
Spencer Greenberg: [00:51:51] Right. So some of the simplest examples are to consider things where when one thing goes up, the other thing tends to go up but clearly the first doesn't cause a second. So for example, as you get older, you both tend to get taller and you tend to learn more things, but getting taller doesn't cause you to learn more things. It’s just they both are caused by getting older. So the fact that your height is correlated with how much you know, doesn't mean that your height causes or growing in height causes you to know more.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:52:21] Interesting. Okay, that should be obvious because that examples are really clear. Getting taller doesn't make you smarter.
Spencer Greenberg: [00:52:28] Exactly.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:52:29] But it gets more nuanced when we're looking at other things, right?
Spencer Greenberg: [00:52:32] Precisely, precisely. Because imagine you're in a situation where, for example, there's a new government policy and they implement this policy and then after that crime goes down, and as they ran -- the more they ramp up the policy, the more crime goes down. You might naturally jump to the conclusion, “Oh that policy is reducing crime, but maybe there's some other things that are happening, that are happening to reduce crime at that time, and it just sort of a fluke that that the policy went into place then. So in that example, a lot of people would make the error of assuming that correlation implies causation when in fact it may not be justified. And we do this all the time throughout our lives where we do something like, let's say we change the way we dress and maybe someone happens to give us a nice compliment about something else, not about our clothing, but it says something else. We might attribute it to the fact that we change the way we dress that day, basically because it happened in close correspondence. So this is actually one of the really, really common fallacies that occurs and especially in things like policy and government, people make these mistakes.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:53:38] Yeah, we see this a lot where people will say something like, “Look at Chicago, they have the strongest gun laws in the country and there's tons of violent crimes.” So clearly stronger gun laws makes it more dangerous for good people out there. And I said, “Well wait a minute, it's a stronger gun laws caused violent crime, then Europe would be a terrible place to live, right?
Spencer Greenberg: [00:53:58] Right. And that's a good example of both -- that's both people assuming that correlation implies causation but also cherry picking, right? They're just picking one example that happens to try to support their particular point where they could have picked another example that supports the opposite point.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:54:13] Perfect. So we want to know what caused what, but the only thing we can get data on is what is correlated with what. So we just say, that's good enough for me. I'm going to jump from correlation to causation, but then it's tricky, it's often invalid, and then we try to provide that useful evidence for causation. And sometimes the correlation can play a part, but sometimes it's actually just completely wrong, like getting taller makes you smarter or getting taller makes you have more life experience, things like that.
Spencer Greenberg: [00:54:42] Exactly. So if we have two variables, A and B, and they're associated and which means that when one goes up, the other tends to go out. There's a few different possible scenarios that could be happening. One is that A could cause B. Another is that you could cause A. A third is that there could be some other variable that causes both of them. And that's why their associated. A fourth thing is that there could be a feedback loop, A causes more B which causes more A, which causes more B and a feedback loop. So those are four possibilities. And then there's some other subtler possibilities as well, but those are kind of the four big ones.
[00:55:14] And in reality it can be often very tricky to figure out which of those four things is actually happening in the real world. But unfortunately, a lot of times what we really want to know is not just the things are associated, but what causes what? For example, let's say you're trying to reduce crime. Some people believe there's an association between impulsiveness and committing crimes and that leads to a causal theory that says, “Well, if we train people to be less impulsive, they'll actually commit fewer crimes.” But that doesn't necessarily the case, for example, it could be that there's some factors that makes both make people more impulsive and more likely to commit crimes. So for example, maybe being in poverty, it makes people more impulsive because they don't have time as much time to think about things because they're working too hard to make enough money. But also being in poverty means you need money really badly, so maybe you're more likely to get in an illegal way. So there's a lot of these possibilities where you really want to know that causal answer, but all you really have is an association.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:56:16] Spencer, thanks so much there a lot of -- how many logical fallacies are there actually?
Spencer Greenberg: [00:56:21] Oh, I mean, there's an absolutely huge, that being said, some are kind of more common than others. And when it comes to cognitive biases, some are more accurate than others in terms of describing the way our minds typically work, but I mean there's easily dozens. And on our website clearerthingking.org, we actually have these interactive free training programs for whole bunch of them so you can learn about how to fight them in your own life.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:56:43] Well, we'll link to that in the show notes as well. And thanks so much for coming on and discussing just a tiny sample of these logical fallacies and cognitive biases that we see so often. Straw man steal man, typical mind, correlation implying causation, cherry picking, and black and white thinking is just scratching the surface, but I've really appreciate it. I think there's a lot here. I use a lot of this stuff when I'm preparing for a show when I'm talking with somebody else because as you might imagine in the personal growth field, we see a lot of this. This is the self-help guru personal growth yachts, Bible here. What sort of thing can I pick out and then turn it into a concept, ignoring all of that, “Oh look what I did this, this happened. So therefore the best way to X is this.” Talk about correlation, implying causation. And I invested a lot of tech companies early on. So what you need to do is invest in a bunch of tech companies. Okay, maybe that's a good idea, maybe that's a great way to get wealthy, but maybe it's correlation, implying causation in some ways or maybe the circumstances are different or you know, what you need to do is this, this is the best way to do A, B or C, that's very much a typical mind fallacy type of argument that I think we hear a lot specially in self-help or personal growth and cherry picking, “Hey, what about this?” “Well, let's ignore that. Here's one story that illustrates my point. I'm going to make a whole book about it and I hit the bestseller list.” I mean we see that stuff all the time.
Spencer Greenberg: [00:58:14] Absolutely. And to that point, one reason to learn this stuff so that you can figure out the truth about the world. So you couldn't get the things you want by having true beliefs, but another reason is to not kill yourself against others who will use this against you, and that's a really important thing to do.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:58:28] So not only to get what we wanted to life, but for self-defense against other people who might be using this to persuade us of something that's not in our best interest or not true at all.
Spencer Greenberg: [00:58:37] Exactly.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:58:38] Spencer, thanks so much, man.
Spencer Greenberg: [00:58:40] Thanks so much for having me.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:58:43] A lot of cognitive bias stuff. I really do enjoy this. What's funny is they're so many biases, but we all end up using them unconsciously. So bringing awareness to it is kind of a big deal because it does help you think and argue better with other people or with yourself.
Jason DeFillippo: [00:58:57] It's like digging into the operating system of your brain. That's what I love about this stuff and cognitive biases in general. It just kind of gives you an insight and once you get introspective on what's happening, then you can kind of see where you're broken sometimes and you know how to fix it in the future. Once you internalize it and can practice it.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:59:16] Great. Big thank you to Spencer Greenberg. His stuff is at clearerthinking.org. Of course, we'll link to that in the show notes. A lot of cool little tests they're on helping you think better, becoming more logical listener or argue or it's really, really useful website. Kind of the Cosmo tests for smart people type of page. I hope I didn't unsell that to everyone.
[00:59:39] Hey, if you want to know how I managed to book all of these great guests for the show and meet all these amazing people while I manage my relationships using systems and tiny habits, I manage my outreach, the keeping in touch, everything. I've made a course for this. It's free and it's over at jordanharbinger.com/course, and don't say you'll do it later, you know you won't. The mistake people make is they don't dig the well before they get thirsty. Once you need these relationships, you're too late. Just spend a few minutes each day. These drills are designed to take just minutes and this is the stuff I wish I knew 10, 15 years ago. It's not fluff. This is not an optional skillset. This is what successful people do on the regular, and yes, if you're already good at networking, you're still going to find plenty in here. We teach this to military, special forces, intelligence agencies. This is stuff that we don't just have naturally. You don't, just trust me. There's stuff in here you don't do. You can find all of this at jordanharbinger.com/course,and again, it's free. jordanharbinger.com/course.
[01:00:34] And speaking of building relationships, tell me your number one takeaway from Spencer Greenberg. I'm @JordanHarbinger on both Twitter and Instagram. This show is produced in association with PodcastOne, and this episode was co-produced by Jason “Survivorship Bias” DeFillippo and Jen Harbinger. Show notes are by Robert Fogarty. Worksheets by Caleb Bacon, and I'm your host Jordan Harbinger. The fee for this show is you share it with friends when you find something useful which should be in every episode. So please share the show with those you love and even those you don't. Got a lot more so excited for what's real life this year, man. We got some really good stuff coming up. And in the meantime, do your best to apply what you hear on the show so you can live what you listen, and we'll see you next time.
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