The human brain can occasionally be a little too powerful.
We often think we're in the driver's seat, making conscious decisions about our actions and beliefs.
The truth is that our conscious mind is often just a bystander, hastily constructing post-rationalizations to make ourselves feel like we're in control.
Consider the phenomenon of "choice blindness," where people fail to notice a mismatch between their choice and the outcome they're presented with.
In one study, participants were shown pairs of pictures and asked to choose the one they found more attractive.
Without their knowledge, the researchers secretly switched the cards they had chosen and later asked them to explain their selection.
Incredibly, 89% of participants failed to realize they had been tricked and proceeded to explain in detail why they had picked the card they had not actually chosen.
This study has been replicated multiple times with similar results.
In one variation, people were polled about their political preferences and secretly given the opposite of their responses. Despite this, many people still defended the views they supposedly disagreed with.
That’s how easily we can stumble into meaningless beliefs.
Think deeply about the ones you cling to.
How many are just souvenirs of your chosen identity? How many are post-rationalisations of a position you unintentionally encountered?
How many decisions do you make because they were right, and how many do you declare right because you made them?
To make smarter decisions keep asking this question: Am I in the Oval Office (making decisions), or in the Press Office (explaining decisions)?