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  • Writer's pictureJonathan Seyfried

The Eternal Struggle Against Cognitive Biases

One of my main goals for my first podcast, A Socialist Reads Atlas Shrugged, is to demonstrate what it's like to read a text with the explicit mission of counteracting my own cognitive biases. Something that social psychologists will be quick to tell you is that it's in the very nature of cognitive bias that, to some extent, you can't think your way out of them (ie. Blind Spot Bias). Well, I think that, regardless of a certain limit or futility, being part of the solution to political polarization is making an earnest attempt to overcome your own cognitive biases.

Check out this helpful infographic I found at, of all places, Visual Capitalist.

Tbh, I love Visual Capitalist. I also love economics, which has been accused of being a "fundamentally right wing field" by a hero of mine David Graeber. But, hey, Marx loved economics too.

Anyway, on that infographic of Cognitive Biases, you'll get some great definitions and pithy examples. I'll want to address each of them at least once during the course of my podcast adventure. Here's a few that I think I'll need to prioritize in my self-reflection as I do my close reading of Atlas Shrugged.

  • Naïve Realism - is my perception or Ayn Rand's perception of political economy and sociology the "real" one? How would I know?

  • Dunning-Kruger Effect - as someone who has not built up an academic expertise in Ayn Rand, will I confidently assert things about this text that are not correct? For some real expertise on Ayn Rand, be sure to spend some time with Jennifer Burns.

  • Confirmation Bias - this is the BIGGIE. How can a Socialist read Atlas Shrugged without falling prey to the Confirmation Bias? I'll do my best to argue from the other side so that I do justice to the best counterarguments. Also, I would like to interview libertarians and conservatives about their interpretations of Atlas Shrugged. If that describes you, and you're reading this, I want you to message me.

  • Framing Effect - I will be challenging Rand's own framing effect (probably the most devastating of Rand's own cognitive biases) but I must remain aware of my own socialist and progressive framing.

Join me on my journey. Will I be questioning how I'm questioning myself about which questions to ask? Oh yes. Will there be examinations of how the examinations are examined? Yep. Hopefully this all comes across as a joyful, unpretentious intellectual journey. Nerd pride!

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