15 Mental Models To Understand Psychology | Gurwinder Bhogal on Modern Wisdom with Chris Williamson

Check out the Modern Wisdom episode page

Key Takeaways

  • “The main problems of the internet are not caused by algorithms, they’re caused by people. Algorithms are just a reflection of human behavior” – Gurwinder Bhogal
    • “We have re-primitivized our technology” – Gurwinder Bhogal
    • In the age of information, the internet, and social media we often find that our tribal instincts overpower the search for truth that these tools should be enabling and accelerating
  • Law of large numbers – given a wide enough data set, any pattern can be observed
    • “The world hasn’t gotten crazier, we are just seeing more of everything” – Gurwinder Bhogal
  • Brandolini’s Law – it takes more energy to refute bullshit than to produce it, the world is left with a lot of unrefuted bullshit
    • It doesn’t take much effort to be wrong on social media – it creates an illusion that society is dumber than it is
  • The Tocqueville Paradox – if living standards rise, people’s societal expectations also rise. When expectations rise past living standards, disaffection towards society results.
    • We misinterpret our conditions by measuring them in relativity rather than absolutes
  • Bulverism – in debate, we assume our opponent is wrong and attempt to retroactively confirm our assumption usually by appealing to the opponents’ character or motives
  • Reactance Theory – when someone is restricted from expressing a point of view or pressured into an opposing point of view, they tend to hold their original view even stronger

Intro

  • Gurwinder Bhogal (@G_S_Bhogal) is a British-Indian writer and researcher, exploring the boundaries of human nature, mental models, and psychology. Chris and Gurwinder discuss different mental models as they relate to social media, tribalism, truth, and more!
  • Host: Chris Williamson (@ChrisWillx)

Gurwinder Bhogal

  • “The main problems of the internet are not caused by algorithms, they’re caused by people. Algorithms are just a reflection of human behavior” – Gurwinder Bhogal
    • This inspired his career shift from tech to psychology
    • He wants to fight against internet misinformation and polarization

Twitter and The Law of Large Numbers

  • Twitter’s problems derive from the law of large numbers
    • Given a wide enough data set, any pattern can be observed
    • “The world hasn’t gotten crazier, we are just seeing more of everything” – Gurwinder Bhogal
      • People typically share and discuss unusual things on Twitter, creating a misinterpretation of reality
      • Seeing more of the worst in humanity will alter your perspective even if it is not accurately reflective of a population
  • Negativity Bias – human tendency to remember negative information rather than positive
    • We have an impression epidemic – validation can be so easily destroyed with outlying negative reactions, even when the positive reactions vastly outnumber the negative

The Peter Principle

  • The Peter Principle – People within hierarchies of business or government will be promoted until they suck at their jobs, at which point they will not grow anymore. Leaving us with a lot of people who suck at their jobs.
    • “Eventually, you lose a great salesman and gain a shitty manager” – Chris Williamson
      • There is a faulty sense of success when it comes to promotion, just because you can do one thing doesn’t mean you can do another
      • Many people are promoted based on numbers of a previous role, not the qualities to be successful in their promotion
    • Not true in a circumstance, some people are content and don’t value promotional hierarchy

The Golden Hammer

  • The Golden Hammer – an excessive overreliance towards one single skill, trying to implement a bias/narrative into every issue or problem
    • Used often to reinforce an ‘in-group’ status among tribe members

Brandolini’s Law

  • Brandolini’s Law – it takes more energy to refute bullshit than to produce it, the world is left with a lot of unrefuted bullshit
    • Also known as ‘the bullshit asymmetry principle
    • It doesn’t take much effort to be wrong on social media – it creates an illusion that society is dumber than it is
      • “There is an overrepresentation of people that don’t think before they post” – Gurwinder Bhogal
    • Don’t be afraid to use the block/mute button, constantly evaluate your feed for valuable information density
      • Don’t let the thoughtless overpower the thoughtful in your socials
      • 2% of Twitter users account for 90% of content 

The Tocqueville Paradox

  • The Tocqueville Paradox – If living standards rise, people’s societal expectations also rise. When expectations rise past living standards, disaffection towards society results.
    • Concept creep your definition of a concept expands when it becomes less common in society
    • As the world gets better, the evolution of concepts (regardless of actual relevancy) can make society look like it’s getting worse
      • “The definition of problems is widening” – Gurwinder Bhogal
      • We misinterpret our conditions by measuring them in relativity rather than absolutes

The Toxoplasma of Rage

  • The Toxoplasma of Rage – the ideas that spread most are not the ones people agree with but the ones that divide people most
    • The brain prefers a personal image of reality rather than truth – we weaponize information to benefit our tribe
      • “We have re-primitivized our technology” – Gurwinder Bhogal
    • Ideology overcomes reason within tribes

Bulverism

  • Bulverism – in debate, we assume our opponent is wrong and attempt to retroactively confirm our assumption
    • It’s much easier to assume wrongness than to do an ideological comparative analysis
    • The decent debate can not functionally exist on Twitter
      • “Twitter is too short for specifics, generalizations will have to suffice” – Chris Williamson

Goodhart’s Law

  • Goodhart’s Law – When a measure becomes a goal, it ceases to become a measure
    • Humans will always game a system if they can
    • Metrics are susceptible to manipulation

The Messiah Effect

  • The Messiah Effect – most people don’t believe in ideals, but in people that believe in those ideals
    • In political campaigns, people often vote based on the person’s characteristics rather than the intricacies of policy
      • Political policies, economics, business are hard to understand
    • We can delegate all responsibility towards the symbolic person rather than ourselves

Reactance Theory

  • Reactance Theory – when someone is restricted from expressing a point of view or pressured into an opposing point of view, they tend to hold their original view even stronger
    • The best cure for fake news may be more fake news
    • “People don’t want the truth. They want to exercise their free will. Given the choice, they will choose freedom over reason” – Gurwinder Bhogal

Hitchens’s Razor

  • Hitchens’s Razor – what can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence. If you make a claim, it’s up to you to prove it, not me to disprove it.
    • Russell’s Teapot – If you believe there is a teapot flying around the moon, you have to believe everything because your counter can’t disprove it
    • “It’s a bullshit filtering heuristic” – Gurwinder Bhogal
    • The detail of most disagreements are over frameworks rather than facts

Dunning-Kruger Effect

  • Dunning–Kruger effect – people with low ability at a task overestimate their own ability and people with high ability at a task underestimate their own ability
    • It is hard to understand our own ability because we lack our own perspective
    • If you can’t recognize your ignorance, you can’t remedy it
Modern Wisdom : , , , ,
Notes By Drew Waterstreet

More Notes on these topics

Top Insights and Tactics From

31 Best Podcasts of All Time

FREE when you join over 12,000 subscribers to the
Podcast Notes newsletter

No Thanks