My talk “Self-Skepticism” at Skepticon 4 in Missouri. I discuss what led me to become skeptical of my decisions and beliefs, as well as what studies say about the reliability of our self-knowledge.

Click here for the talk slides.

5 thoughts on “Self-Skepticism

  1. Hendy says:

    Great talk. We read much the same material. On the “beauty bias” topic, another one from Ariely’s blog I saw a bit back had to do with parole decisions and whether the committee had recently had a break/eaten. Scary stuff! Again, very much enjoyed the talk and you hit on a lot of important concepts. I’m glad they mentioned your other blog as well; I didn’t know about it prior to the introduction given by Skepticon.

    1. Spencer Spencer says:

      Glad you enjoyed the talk. I’m also glad you posted that parole decisions link, because it is something that people talk about a lot, but which may actually be invalid. The original paper is this one:

      I ALMOST included it when writing my talk, until I discovered this paper (by different authors):

      which claims that the original study did not control for all the relevant factors regarding which prisoners get seen at different times of day, and so the results are suspect. Now that I think about it in retrospect, the effect size in the original paper is so large that it seems rather hard to believe that they could have accounted for all the relevant factors.

      1. Hendy says:

        Sigh. Can we trust nothing anymore? 🙂 Along the lines of selective data, this was a fascinating TED talk I recently viewed by an epidemiologist about how drug companies can be “selective” in their FDA submitted studies: Ben Goldacre: Battling bad science. He speaks fast, but I think you’ll enjoy the content!

      2. Spencer Spencer says:

        It turns out there is a rebuttal to the rebuttal of the original paper on judicial decision making, which can be found here:

  2. nancylebovitz says:

    The examples of self-knowledge you gave aren’t actually self-knowledge, they’re comparisons to other people.

    It would be interesting to find out to what extent people can accurately assess what they can do rather than whether they’re better or worse than average.

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