Fallacies and Biases

List of fallacies, biases, effects, tendencies and more with AI generated summary and example. The list comes from “The Art of Thinking Clearly” by Rolf Dobell. This book lists almost 100 practical examples of cognitive errors we typically as humans make. Written in engaging style and split in series of short stories, it is great book for those who wants to learn how to think critically. I think that good understanding of these will make our mind more logical and successful in our careers, businesses and relationships.

Fallacy/BiasShort Description as to 10 year old with an example. From ChatGPT 3.5
Survivorship BiasSurvivorship bias means only looking at the winners and ignoring the losers. It’s like thinking all the people who won a race are super fast without considering those who didn’t finish or dropped out.
Swimmer’s Body IllusionThe Swimmer’s Body Illusion is when people think that doing a certain activity, like swimming, will make their body look a certain way, even if they don’t actually do that activity. It’s like believing that just because you wear a superhero costume, you’ll suddenly have superpowers.
Clustering IllusionThe Clustering Illusion is when we see patterns or groups in random things, like stars in the sky, even when they’re not really there. It’s like finding shapes in the clouds, like a bunny or a heart, even though the clouds are just puffy and random.
Social ProofSocial Proof is when people follow what others are doing because they think it’s the right thing to do. It’s like when you see everyone at school wearing the same kind of shoes, so you want them too because you think it must be cool.
Sunk Cost FallacyThe Sunk Cost Fallacy is when you keep doing something or spending time on it just because you’ve already put a lot of effort or resources into it, even if it’s not a good idea anymore. It’s like staying in a long, boring movie just because you already paid for the ticket, even if you’re not enjoying it.
ReciprocityReciprocity means that when someone does something nice for you, you feel like you should do something nice in return. It’s like if your friend shares their snacks with you at lunch, you might want to share your snacks with them another day to be fair and kind.
Confirmation BiasConfirmation Bias is when people tend to pay more attention to information that agrees with what they already believe and ignore or downplay information that disagrees with it. It’s like if you really like a certain sports team, you might only listen to news or stories that say good things about your team and ignore the ones that say something negative, even if they’re true.
Authority BiasAuthority Bias is when we tend to believe or follow what an important or knowledgeable person says, even if it might not be the best idea. It’s like listening to your teacher even if they make a mistake just because they’re the teacher, even though sometimes teachers can be wrong too.
Contrast EffectThe Contrast Effect is when we judge something as better or worse than it actually is because we compare it to something else right before. It’s like thinking a small cookie is huge if you saw even smaller cookies just before, or thinking a big bag of chips is small if you saw an even bigger bag right before that.
Availability BiasAvailability Bias is when we think something is more likely to happen because it’s easier to remember examples of it or because we hear about it a lot. It’s like believing it’s always sunny and warm because you remember the sunny days more, even though there are rainy days too.
The It-Will-Get-Worse-Before-It-Gets-Better FallacyThe “It-Will-Get-Worse-Before-It-Gets-Better” Fallacy is when people think that things will become even more difficult or bad before they improve, even when there’s no evidence to support that idea. It’s like worrying that your homework will get much harder before it becomes easier, even though it might just stay the same difficulty level.
Story BiasStory Bias is when we believe something more because it’s presented in a compelling or interesting story, even if the story doesn’t have strong evidence to support it. It’s like thinking a fairy tale is real just because it’s told in an exciting way, even though it’s made up.
Hindsight Bias Hindsight Bias is when we believe that we knew something was going to happen all along after it has already happened. It’s like saying you knew the ending of a movie before watching it, even though you didn’t really know until you saw it.
Overconfidence EffectThe Overconfidence Effect is when people believe they are better at something or know more than they actually do. It’s like thinking you can easily win a video game level, but then it turns out to be much harder than you thought because you were too confident.
Chauffeur KnowledgeChauffeur Knowledge refers to having information at your disposal but not really understanding it deeply or being able to use it effectively. It’s like having a chauffeur who knows all the streets but not knowing how to drive yourself or read a map.
Illusion of ControlThe Illusion of Control is when people believe they have more control over situations or outcomes than they actually do. It’s like thinking you can make a toy car go faster just by holding the remote control and pressing buttons, even though the car’s speed doesn’t depend on your actions.
Incentive Super-Response TendencyThe Incentive Super-Response Tendency is when people tend to react strongly to rewards or incentives, sometimes more than they usually would. It’s like being really excited and working extra hard to get a special prize at a game, even if the prize isn’t that valuable.
Regression To MeanRegression to the Mean is when things tend to go back to their usual or average level after they have been unusually high or low. It’s like if you have a really good day at a game and score a lot of points, the next day you might not do as well because you’re likely to return to your usual level of performance.
Outcome BiasOutcome Bias is when we judge the quality of a decision based on its result rather than the quality of the decision-making process itself. It’s like thinking a risky choice was a good one just because it happened to work out, even if it was a bad decision based on the information available at the time.
Paradox of ChoiceThe Paradox of Choice is when having too many options can make it harder to make a decision and can lead to feeling less satisfied with the choice you eventually make. It’s like going to an ice cream shop with so many flavors that you can’t decide which one to pick, and then when you finally choose, you might wonder if you made the right choice because there were so many other options.
Liking BiasLiking Bias is when we tend to have a positive view of something or someone just because we like them, even if they might not deserve it. It’s like thinking your friend’s drawing is amazing just because you really like your friend, even if the drawing isn’t that great objectively.
Endowment EffectThe Endowment Effect is when people tend to value things more just because they own or possess them. It’s like thinking your old, worn-out toy is super special and valuable just because it’s yours, even if it’s not worth much to others.
CoincidenceCoincidence is when two or more events seem related or connected, but they actually happen by chance and don’t have a specific cause-and-effect relationship. It’s like meeting someone you know in a different city unexpectedly; it might feel like fate, but it’s just a random and unplanned event.
GroupthinkGroupthink is when a group of people makes decisions or choices that everyone agrees with, even if some members have doubts or different ideas. It’s like when you and your friends all want to go to the same restaurant because you don’t want to disagree, even if there might be better options you haven’t considered.
Neglect of ProbabilityNeglect of Probability is when people ignore the likelihood of events happening and make decisions based on their emotions or perceptions instead. It’s like being scared of a very rare event, like getting struck by lightning, and making choices based on that fear, even though it’s highly unlikely to happen.
Scarcity ErrorScarcity Error is when people think something is more valuable or important just because it’s scarce or hard to get, even if it might not be that special. It’s like wanting a toy more just because it’s the last one on the store shelf, even if there are other toys that are just as fun.
Base-Rate NeglectBase-Rate Neglect is when people ignore how common something is (like how many people have a trait or condition) and focus too much on specific details. For example, if most of the students in a school like pizza, you might think everyone does, even if you meet a few students who don’t.
Gambler’s FallacyThe Gambler’s Fallacy is when someone believes that because a random event, like flipping a coin, has happened a certain way many times in a row, it’s more likely to happen the opposite way next time. For example, thinking a coin will land on heads just because it landed on tails several times in a row, even though each coin flip is still a 50-50 chance.
The AnchorThe Anchor is when people rely too heavily on the first piece of information they receive when making decisions, even if it’s not very relevant. For example, if a store advertises a high price for a product and then offers a discount, you might think it’s a good deal just because the original price was high, even if the product isn’t worth that much.
InductionInduction is when we make general conclusions or predictions based on specific examples or experiences. For instance, if you’ve only seen white swans, you might think all swans are white, even though there are black swans too.
Loss AversionLoss Aversion is when people feel the pain of losing something more than the pleasure of gaining something of equal value. It’s like feeling really upset about losing a small toy more than you feel happy about getting a new one, even if they’re both equally fun.
Social LoafingSocial Loafing is when people tend to put less effort into a group task because they think others will do the work, so they can relax. It’s like when you’re in a group project, and you do less work because you assume your teammates will do the job, too.
Exponential GrowthChatGPT
Exponential Growth is when something multiplies or gets bigger at a faster and faster rate over time. Imagine you have a magical toy that doubles in size every minute. At first, it’s small, but after a few minutes, it becomes really big because it keeps doubling. That’s exponential growth.
Winner’s CurseThe Winner’s Curse is when someone wins something, like an auction, by paying more than it’s actually worth because they get caught up in the excitement of winning. It’s like buying a rare collectible card in a game for a lot of money just because you really wanted to win the bidding, even if the card isn’t worth that much.
Fundamental Attribution ErrorThe Fundamental Attribution Error is when people tend to think that a person’s actions are mainly because of their personality, ignoring the influence of the situation or context. For example, if someone trips and falls, you might think they’re clumsy (personality) without considering that maybe the floor was slippery (situation).
False CausalityFalse Causality is when we believe that just because two things happen at the same time, one must have caused the other. It’s like thinking that wearing a lucky sock made your favorite sports team win, even though the sock had nothing to do with it.
Halo EffectThe Halo Effect is when we think that someone who is good at one thing must be good at everything else too. It’s like believing that because a celebrity is a great actor, they must also be an expert chef, even if you don’t have any proof of their cooking skills.
Alternative Paths
Forecast Illusion
Conjuction FallacyThe Conjunction Fallacy is when people mistakenly think that a combination of events is more likely than just one of those events by itself. For example, believing that “Linda is a bank teller and is active in feminist causes” is more likely than “Linda is a bank teller” is a conjunction fallacy.
FramingFraming is when the way information is presented or “framed” can influence how people perceive it, even if the facts are the same. For example, if you describe a glass as “half full,” it sounds more positive than saying it’s “half empty,” even though it’s the same amount of liquid in both cases.
Action BiasAction Bias is when people feel the need to do something, even if taking action might not be the best course of action in a given situation. For example, during a soccer game, a player might feel pressured to always try to score a goal, even when passing the ball to a teammate would be a better strategy.
Immission BiasImmission Bias is when people focus on what’s immediately in front of them and give it more importance than things that are less visible or farther away. For instance, someone might think the food right in front of them at a buffet is better, even if there are even tastier options further down the table.
Self-Serving BiasSelf-Serving Bias is when people tend to take credit for their successes but blame external factors for their failures. It’s like saying, “I got an A on the test because I’m so smart,” when you do well, but saying, “I got a bad grade because the teacher doesn’t like me,” when you don’t do well, even if the real reasons might be different.
Hedonic TreadmilThe Hedonic Treadmill is when people adapt quickly to changes in their lives, whether positive or negative, and return to a stable level of happiness. It’s like getting a new toy and feeling really happy at first, but after a while, you get used to it, and it doesn’t make you as happy as it did at the beginning.
Self-Selection BiasSelf-Selection Bias is when people choose to be part of a group or take a particular action, and this choice can lead to misleading conclusions because those who self-select may be different from the rest of the population. For example, if only the fastest runners join a running club, it might seem like everyone in the club is super fast, but it’s because slower runners didn’t join in the first place.
Association BiasAssociation Bias is when people assume that just because two things are related or associated in some way, one thing must cause the other. For example, thinking that wearing a lucky hat will make you do well on a test just because you wore it when you did well once before, even if the hat had nothing to do with your success.
Beginner’s LuckBeginner’s Luck is when someone who is new to something, like a game or a sport, does surprisingly well in their first try. It’s like playing a board game for the first time and winning, even though you didn’t have much experience, and it might not happen again in the future.
Cognitive DissonanceCognitive Dissonance is when people feel uncomfortable because they have conflicting thoughts or beliefs, and they try to resolve this discomfort by changing their beliefs or actions. It’s like feeling torn between wanting to eat a healthy salad (because you want to be healthy) and wanting to eat a delicious but unhealthy pizza (because it tastes so good). To reduce the discomfort, you might convince yourself that the pizza isn’t that bad for you or decide to eat the salad instead.
Hyperbolic DiscountingHyperbolic Discounting is when people prefer to have a smaller reward now rather than waiting for a larger reward in the future, even if waiting would be more beneficial in the long run. It’s like choosing a small bag of candies now instead of waiting a few days to get a much bigger bag as a reward for patience, even though the bigger bag is a better deal.
“Because” Justification“Because” Justification is when people tend to agree with a request or suggestion if they are given a reason, even if the reason isn’t very good or relevant. For instance, if someone asks to borrow your pencil, you might be more likely to say yes if they give a reason like, “Can I borrow your pencil because I need to write something,” even though the reason is obvious and not very informative.
Decision FatigueDecision Fatigue is when people get tired of making decisions after making many choices throughout the day, which can lead to poorer decision-making later on. It’s like having so many different flavors of ice cream to choose from that by the end of the day, when you need to decide what to have for dinner, you might feel too tired to make a good choice.
Contagion BiasContagion Bias is when people believe that something that has come into contact with something else has also taken on the properties or characteristics of that thing, even if there’s no logical reason for it. For example, thinking that if you touch something that belonged to a famous person, you’ll become famous too, even though it doesn’t work that way.
The Problem with AveragesThe Problem with Averages is when people use an average (like the mean) to represent a group of data but miss important details because not everyone in the group is the same. For example, if you have three friends, one earns a lot of money, one earns an average amount, and one earns very little, saying “on average, my friends earn a medium amount” doesn’t show the big differences in their incomes.
Motivation CrowdingMotivation Crowding is when external rewards or incentives can sometimes reduce a person’s intrinsic motivation, making them less interested in doing something they initially enjoyed for its own sake. It’s like if you used to love drawing pictures just for fun, but then someone started paying you for your drawings. You might start drawing less for fun because now you’re doing it more for the money, and it feels less enjoyable.
Twaddle Tendency
Will Rogers PhenomenonThe Will Rogers Phenomenon is when moving an element from one group to another group can make both groups look better in comparison. For example, if you move a patient from the “sick” group to the “not so sick” group, it can make the “sick” group’s average condition look worse and the “not so sick” group’s average condition look better, even though the patient’s condition hasn’t changed.
Information BiasInformation Bias is when people believe that having more information is always better, even when the extra information doesn’t really help with the decision. It’s like thinking that reading a lot of books about a topic will make you an expert, but if the books contain irrelevant or wrong information, it won’t necessarily make you more knowledgeable.
Effort JustificationEffort Justification is when people value something more if they had to put in a lot of effort or undergo a difficult experience to achieve it. It’s like feeling extra proud of building a complicated LEGO set because it took a long time and hard work, even if the final result is just a toy like any other.
The Law of Small NumbersThe Law of Small Numbers is when people expect small samples of data to be more representative of the whole population than they really are. For example, if you flip a coin three times and it comes up heads each time, you might think it’s more likely to always land on heads, even though it’s just a small sample and the overall odds are still 50-50.
ExpectationsExpectations are what we hope or think will happen in the future based on our beliefs or past experiences. For example, if you expect to get a gift on your birthday because you usually do, it means you believe someone will give you a present as part of your birthday celebration.
Simple LogicSimple logic is a way of thinking that uses clear and straightforward reasoning to solve problems or make decisions. It’s like figuring out that if you have two apples and someone gives you one more, you’ll have three apples, because you added one to the two you already had.
Forer EffectThe Forer Effect, also known as the Barnum Effect, is when people believe vague and general statements about their personality that could apply to almost anyone. For example, if you read a horoscope that says, “You are a friendly person, but sometimes you can be reserved,” it might seem accurate to you, even though it’s so general that it could describe many people.
Volunteer’s Folly
Affect HeuristicThe Affect Heuristic is when people make decisions and judgments based on their emotions or feelings rather than through a more deliberate, analytical process. For example, if you have a positive feeling about a person you just met, you might quickly assume they are trustworthy and likeable without gathering much factual information about them.
Introspection IllusionThe Introspection Illusion is when people believe they have access to their own thoughts and feelings and can accurately explain why they feel or behave a certain way, even when their explanations might not be entirely accurate. For example, you might think you’re feeling sad because of a specific event, but it could be influenced by other factors you’re not aware of, leading to an incorrect introspective explanation for your emotions.
Inability to Close Doors
NeomaniaNeomania refers to the tendency of some people to have a strong preference for or attraction to new things or novelty. It’s like when someone is always excited about the latest gadgets, even if their current devices work perfectly fine, just because they’re new and different.
Sleeper EffectThe Sleeper Effect is when people tend to forget the source of information over time but remember the message itself. Initially, if you hear information from a less credible source, you might dismiss it. However, over time, you could start to accept the information as more credible, even if you can’t remember where you first heard it. For example, if you heard a rumor from a gossip magazine (not very credible) but later start believing the rumor is true without remembering it came from the magazine, that’s the sleeper effect.
Social Comparison BiasSocial Comparison Bias is when people tend to evaluate themselves and their abilities by comparing themselves to others, often leading to biased perceptions. For example, if you feel proud of your drawing skills because you’re better than your little brother but don’t realize that compared to professional artists, your skills are still developing, that’s social comparison bias.
Primacy and Recency EffectsPrimacy Effect is when we remember things at the beginning of a list better, and Recency Effect is when we remember things at the end of a list better. For example, you might recall the first and last items on your grocery list more easily than the ones in the middle.
Not Invented Here SyndromeThe “Not Invented Here” (NIH) Syndrome is when a person or organization prefers their own ideas or solutions and is reluctant to adopt or accept external ideas, even if they might be better. It’s like a group of friends who always want to play games they came up with themselves and don’t want to try a new game suggested by someone else, even if it sounds fun.
The Black SwanThe Black Swan refers to unexpected and rare events that have a major impact and are often wrongly rationalized or explained after they occur, as if they were predictable. For example, a financial crisis or a rare natural disaster like a tsunami is considered a Black Swan event because they are highly unpredictable and have significant consequences.
Domain DependenceDomain Dependence is when people’s judgments or decisions are influenced by the context or domain in which the decision is made, even if the context shouldn’t affect the decision. For instance, if you’re shopping for clothes and then decide to buy a more expensive shirt just because you recently saw an expensive item in a different store, you’re showing domain dependence because the context of the other store influenced your decision in a different domain (clothing).
False-Consensus EffectThe False-Consensus Effect is when people tend to overestimate the extent to which others share their beliefs, opinions, or behaviors, thinking that what they do or believe is more common than it actually is. For example, if you love a particular sport and assume that everyone you know also loves it, you’re showing the false-consensus effect because not everyone may share your enthusiasm for that sport.
Falsification of History“Falsification of History” refers to the deliberate distortion or manipulation of historical events or facts to present a biased or inaccurate version of the past. It’s like if someone were to change the details of a famous battle in a history book to make their own country look like the victor, even though it didn’t happen that way in reality.
In-Group Out-Group BiasIn-Group Out-Group Bias is when people tend to favor or show more positive feelings and attitudes toward members of their own group (the in-group) and can be more biased or negative toward people from other groups (the out-group). It’s like if you’re part of a sports team, you might feel more connected to and supportive of your teammates (in-group) while having a less favorable view of rival teams (out-group) even if the players on those teams are equally skilled and dedicated.
Ambiguity AversionAmbiguity Aversion is when people prefer known risks over unknown risks and tend to avoid situations where the probabilities and outcomes are unclear or ambiguous. For example, someone might choose a fixed amount of money with a guaranteed outcome over a gamble with an uncertain outcome, even if the gamble could potentially result in a larger reward.
Default EffectThe Default Effect is when people tend to stick with the option that is preselected or set as the default, even if it’s not the best choice for them. It’s like choosing to keep the default settings on your computer or phone even if there are better options available because it requires less effort to stick with what’s already chosen.
Fear of RegretFear of Regret is when people make decisions based on avoiding the feeling of regret in the future. It’s like choosing a safe but less exciting vacation destination over a more adventurous one because you’re worried you might regret the risks and uncertainties of the adventurous trip later on.
Salience EffectThe Salience Effect is when people pay more attention to information or factors that are more noticeable or prominent, even if they might not be the most relevant or important. For example, if you see a headline in a news article with bold and colorful letters, you might think it’s the most important news story, even if there are more significant stories further down the page.
House-Money EffectThe House-Money Effect is when people tend to take more risks or make less cautious decisions when they are using money or resources that feel like “house money” or winnings, as opposed to their own hard-earned money. For example, someone might be more willing to bet a large amount of money at a casino if they’re using the winnings from a previous bet because it feels like they’re playing with “extra” money rather than their initial savings.
ProcrastinationProcrastination is when people delay or put off doing tasks or activities that they should complete, often choosing to do something less important or enjoyable instead. For example, if you have homework to do but decide to play video games instead, you’re procrastinating because you’re delaying the important task.
EnvyEnvy is when you feel unhappy or resentful because someone else has something you want, whether it’s a possession, achievement, or quality. For example, if your friend gets a new bicycle and you start feeling jealous because you wish you had a bike like theirs, that’s envy.
PersonificationPersonification is when we give human characteristics or qualities to non-human things, like animals, objects, or abstract ideas. For instance, in a story, when a talking tree helps the main character, it’s personification because trees don’t usually talk or have human-like abilities.
Illusion of AttentionThe Illusion of Attention is when people believe they notice and pay attention to more details in their surroundings than they actually do. It’s like thinking you saw all the items on a shelf at the store, but you might have missed some because your attention was focused on just a few things.
Strategic misrepresentationStrategic misrepresentation is when someone intentionally provides false or misleading information to achieve a particular goal or advantage. It’s like someone exaggerating their qualifications on a job application to increase their chances of getting hired, even though their skills and experience may not match what they claimed.
OverthinkingOverthinking is when you spend too much time and energy dwelling on a problem or decision, often to the point where it becomes unproductive and stressful. For example, if you keep thinking about what to wear for a simple family dinner and spend hours stressing over it, you’re overthinking because the decision should not require that much thought or worry.
Planning Fallacy The Planning Fallacy is when people underestimate the amount of time, resources, or effort required to complete a future task or project, leading to overly optimistic plans and predictions. For example, when students plan to complete a school project in a day but end up needing a week because they didn’t consider potential obstacles or delays, they’ve fallen victim to the planning fallacy.
Deformation ProfessionelleDeformation Professionelle, a French term, refers to the tendency of professionals to see the world through the lens of their own specialized knowledge or expertise. It’s like a doctor who starts seeing every minor symptom as a potential medical condition because they are so focused on their medical training, even if the symptoms are unrelated to health issues.
Zeigarnik EffectThe Zeigarnik Effect is when people remember uncompleted or interrupted tasks better than completed ones. It’s like remembering the details of an unfinished puzzle you were working on, even if you forget completed puzzles you’ve already done. This effect shows that our brains tend to hold onto incomplete or unresolved things.
Illusion of SkillThe Illusion of Skill is when people overestimate their own abilities and believe they are more skilled or competent at something than they actually are. For example, someone might think they are a fantastic chef because they can make a few dishes well, even though they lack the knowledge and experience of a professional chef. This illusion can lead to overconfidence and poor decision-making.
Feature-Positive EffectThe Feature-Positive Effect is when people tend to focus more on the positive attributes or features of something while overlooking or downplaying its negative aspects. For example, when buying a new smartphone, someone might be drawn to the fact that it has a great camera and powerful performance, even if it has a short battery life and is expensive. This bias can lead to making decisions without considering the full picture.
Cherry PickingCherry picking is when someone selectively chooses or presents information or evidence that supports their argument or point of view while ignoring or omitting information that contradicts it. For instance, if someone is trying to convince others that a certain diet is healthy and only shares success stories of people who lost weight on that diet but doesn’t mention cases where it didn’t work, they are cherry-picking data to support their claim. It’s like picking only the ripe and tasty cherries while leaving the unripe or sour ones behind.
Fallacy of the Single CauseThe Fallacy of the Single Cause is when someone thinks that only one thing caused a complex problem, even though many factors can contribute. For instance, blaming a bad grade on just one missed homework assignment and not considering other reasons like not studying or understanding the material is the fallacy of the single cause.
Intention-To-Threat ErrorThe Intention-to-Threat Error is when people assume that someone’s harmful actions were intentional, even when they might have been accidental. For example, if a friend accidentally knocks over your toy and you think they did it on purpose to upset you, that’s the intention-to-threat error because you assumed their actions were meant to harm you when it was actually accidental.