Patterns in Thinking

For a while, I’ve been collecting “thought patterns.” Originally, they were logical fallacies, but then I broadened to include just about any identifiable pattern in how people think. Some of these are fallacies, but some are just bad habits, or ways of being wrong.

These could all be broadly categorized as “mental models.” Humans have studied these forever, but they’ve really become trendy in the last few years.

More than anything, I started writing these down just to understand them better, and to have an outlet to collect information about them. The more I read about them, the more I would see examples, and I wanted/needed a place to aggregate this stuff just to sort it out in my own head.

(Also worth reading as a counterpoint: The Mental Model Fallacy which argues that studying mental models doesn’t make us any smarter.)

This is not a strict, logical analysis, by any stretch. I am not a philosopher or a logician (though I did get a minor in Philosophy in college – yay liberal arts!). I am acutely aware that someone smarter or more well-read than me could probably tear these apart.

Also, know that these are constantly in flux. Some are fleshed out, and others are just stubs. As I noted above, I’ll keep adding to them and fleshing them out over time.

The patterns are listed below. Each has an objective description, may have some more opinionated commentary, and might have some additional links and some examples (see disclaimer below). If you like to browse, start with the first, and then there are next/previous links to navigate through them.

There’s also a bibliography below which lists quite a few books related to this topic.

I hope you enjoy them.

The Patterns

Example Disclaimer

I am a Democrat (I like to think I’m moderate, but to many people, if you’re a Democrat then you’re automatically a socialist liberal).

Many of my examples come from politics, because in this day and age, that tends to be the arena in which we disagree the most, and the one we lie to ourselves the most about our motivations and how the world works.

I tried to be balanced. For every example that showed the fallacy of a conservative, I tried to find one that showed the fallacy of a liberal. I also was careful about accuracy. I did research on each one to make sure I had my facts straight.

But know that when it comes to politics, everyone will be able to argue with some of them. I realize there are some examples that won’t make you happy, but they serve to illustrate the pattern, if nothing else.

Partial Bibliography