If you believe something is bad because it is…bad, or that something is good because, well, it’s good, you probably wouldn’t use that kind of reasoning in an argument – yet, sometimes, without realizing it, that’s exactly what you do.

If you think eating shrimp is immoral, you might defend that viewpoint by saying, “People shouldn’t eat shrimp because eating shrimp is unethical.” Ok, yes, got it, but you just looped back around without defending your original assertion.  We are going to need to hear some justification for your views on morality.

Likewise, when explaining why something is true, we often unwittingly provide false clarity. For instance, you might read something like, “Human beings enjoy looking at each other’s butts because we evolved to appreciate healthy backsides.” Broken down, this is just a rephrasing of, “People like butts because people like butts.” There’s no answer here, no cause to the effect, no argument for or against, no explanation for why the observable is observable.

So why do we do this, and why don’t we notice it when other people do it?


You don’t treat all of your beliefs equally.

For some, you see them as either true or false, correct or incorrect. For others, you see them as probabilities, chances – odds. In one world, you live in certainty, in the other, uncertainty.

In this episode we explore why you gladly update some beliefs yet refuse to update others.

When confronted with dogma-threatening, worldview-menacing ideas, your knee-jerk response is usually to lash out and try to bat them away, but thanks to a nearly unavoidable mistake in reasoning, you often end up doing battle with arguments of your own creation.

Your lazy brain is always trying to make sense of the world on ever-simpler terms. Just as you wouldn’t use a topographical map to navigate your way to Wendy’s, you tend to navigate reality using a sort of Google Maps interpretation of events and ideas. It’s less accurate, sure, but much easier to understand when details aren’t a priority. But thanks to this heuristical habit, you sometimes create mental men of straw that stand in for the propositions put forth by people who see the world a bit differently than you. In addition to being easy to grasp, they are easy to knock down and hack apart, which wouldn’t be a problem if only you noticed the switcheroo.