We have gone over the obvious causes of cognitive bias – attention and personal biases – but when you reach beyond those, there are four very common biases that can affect anyone in regards to making choices. These causes are universal across all types and sectors of mental modelling, and they affect cognitive bias even when attention and personal bias are not an issue. Let’s take a look at these four common causes.
An Overabundance of Information
If you look at the world as a whole and how long human beings have been on it collecting data and evolving information, it becomes quite clear that no one can know or even process all of it. An overabundance of information can come from the general view that there is just far too much information out there for us to process. While humans have a tendency to tell themselves that they can do anything they put their mind to, there are limitations.
Your senses are the collectors of information, taking in data by using sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch. We are constantly inputting and outputting, just like the computers that we ourselves created. However, on top of that, we live in a very large place. We live in houses, neighbourhoods, towns, counties, states, countries, hemispheres, on a planet in the solar system, and in the universe. From there, we don’t know. For all we know, we are just a speck of sand in an extended and twisted multiverse. The amount of knowledge within those spaces is astronomical. It is nearly impossible to believe that it could be picked up by one person.
In fact, even here on our own planet, deep in the ocean, far into the trenches of the rainforests, we are still discovering new species of plants and animals. It is obvious that even if we were capable of taking in the information from all of these places, we would undoubtedly miss some. This is a fault of sorts – an evolutionary blockage that we have – and we will pass it on to other humans and to the artificial intelligence that we surround ourselves with.
As humans, we have to come to the conclusion that we are okay with the fact that we will never be able to understand everything that is out there. Our species is not large enough to fully grasp the power of that type of knowledge, and our reach is currently far too short to even try. The overabundance of information is hardly ever a blessing, and it is too often a distraction from what we should be focusing on.