Memory Fillers

More strictly known as “availability biases”, these are gaps in what we remember, and what we know about, which we fill in confidently, but often absurdly. They are habitual failures of logic which can distort the way in which we observe and interpret events. We may remember just those matters of public policy in which there was a clearly-established villain. Seeing a picture of a problem may make the difference between whether we think it is important or not. We may forget about, or give less significance to, big events that happened some time ago, while being deeply concerned with minor events that happened recently. We may know nothing at all about Dick except the colour of his eyes, and deduce from that that he is an engineer. On the strength of our lack of acquaintance with any judges, we may assume (on hearing that one has been caught in a drink-driving offence), that they are all at it. Not knowing what we are talking about can have the reassuring effect of making us completely certain about it (Innocence).M10

The data we have available to think about—however carefully we may do the thinking—can consist of a scrapheap of things which are weird enough, or simply recent enough, for us actually to remember them.


Related entries:

Cognitive Dissonance, Mindset, Personal Experience, Lumpy Logic, Rote, False Premise.

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David Fleming
Dr David Fleming (2 January 1940 – 29 November 2010) was a cultural historian and economist, based in London, England. He was among the first to reveal the possibility of peak oil's approach and invented the influential TEQs scheme, designed to address this and climate change. He was also a pioneer of post-growth economics, and a significant figure in the development of the UK Green Party, the Transition Towns movement and the New Economics Foundation, as well as a Chairman of the Soil Association. His wide-ranging independent analysis culminated in two critically acclaimed books, 'Lean Logic' and 'Surviving the Future', published posthumously in 2016. These in turn inspired the 2020 launches of both BAFTA-winning director Peter Armstrong's feature film about Fleming's perspective and legacy - 'The Sequel: What Will Follow Our Troubled Civilisation?' - and Sterling College's unique 'Surviving the Future: Conversations for Our Time' online courses. For more information on all of the above, including Lean Logic, click the little globe below!

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