“So convenient a thing is it to be a reasonable creature, since it enables one to find or make a reason for everything one has a mind to do.”[25] Benjamin Franklin‘s observation has been confirmed by recent studies in self-deception.[26] In everyday reasoning, humans do little to get real evidence when taking positions or making decisions, and do even less to get evidence for opposing positions. Instead, they tend to fabricate “pseudo-evidence” – often after the decision had already been made (“post hoc fabrication”).[27][page needed]

Humans take a position, look for evidence that supports it, then, if they find some evidence – enough so that the position “makes sense” – they stop thinking altogether (the “makes-sense stopping rule”).[28] And, when pressed to produce real evidence, they tend to seek and interpret “evidence” that confirms what they already believe (the “confirmation bias“).[29]

Moreover, humans tend to think highly of themselves, highlighting strengths and achievements, and overlooking weakness and failures (the “self-serving bias“). When asked to rate themselves on virtues, skills, or other desirable traits (including ethics, intelligence, driving ability, and sexual skills), a large majority say they are above average.[30] Power and privilege magnify the distortion: 94% of college professors think that they do above average work.[31] This effect is weaker in Asian countries and in other cultures which value the group more highly than the self.[32]

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