Not Enough Meaning

The world is very confusing, and we end up only seeing a tiny sliver of it, but we need to make some sense of it in order to survive. Once the reduced stream of information comes in, we connect the dots, fill in the gaps with stuff we already think we know, and update our mental models of the world.

We tend to find stories and data when looking at sparse data

Since we only get a tiny sliver of the world’s information, and also filter out almost everything else, we never have the luxury of having the full story. This is how our brain reconstructs the world to feel complete inside our heads.

Confabulation Pareidolia
Insensitivity to Sample Size Clustering Illusion
Anecdotal Fallacy Neglect of Probability
Masked Man Fallacy Illusion of Validity
Gambler’s Fallacy Recency Illusion
Anthropomorphism Illusory Correlation

We fill in characteristics from stereotypes, generalities, and prior histories

When we have partial information about a specific thing that belongs to a group of things we are pretty familiar with, our brain has no problem filling in the gaps with best guesses or what other trusted sources provide. Conveniently, we then forget which parts were real and which were filled in.

Group Attribution Error Argument From Fallacy
Essentialism Bandwagon Effect
Just-World Hypothesis Stereotyping
Automation Bias Moral Credential Effect
Ultimate Attribution Error Authority Bias
Functional Fixedness Placebo Effect

We simplify probabilities and numbers to make them easier to think about

Our subconscious mind is terrible at math and generally gets all kinds of things wrong about the likelihood of something happening if any data is missing.

Mental Accounting Appeal to Probability Fallacy
Normalcy Bias Murphy’s Law
Zero-sum Bias Survivorship Bias
Subadditivity Effect Denomination Effect
Magic Number 7+-2  

We imagine things and people we’re familiar with or fond of as better

Similar to the above but the filled-in bits generally also include built in assumptions about the quality and value of the thing we’re looking at.

Out-group Homogeneity Bias Reactive Devaluation
Halo Effect In-group Bias
Not-Invented-Here Syndrome Positivity Effect
Cross-race Effect Well-Traveled Road Effect
Cheerleader Effect  

We think we know what other people are thinking

In some cases this means that we assume that they know what we know, in other cases we assume they’re thinking about us as much as we are thinking about ourselves. It’s basically just a case of us modeling their own mind after our own (or in some cases after a much less complicated mind than our own).

Illusion of Transparency Illusion of External Agency
Extrinsic Incentive Error Spotlight Effect
Curse of Knowledge Illusion of Asymmetric Insight

We project our current mindset and assumptions onto the past and future

Magnified also by the fact that we’re not very good at imagining how quickly or slowly things will happen or change over time.

Self-consistency Bias Projection Bias
Time-saving Bias Pessimism Bias
Declinism Outcome Bias
Rosy Retrospection Resistant Bias
Pro-innovation Bias Planning Fallacy
Impact Bias Moral Luck
Hindsight Bias Telescoping Effect