Inductive versus deductive reasoning: how to make stronger arguments

Most scientists agree: it’s impossible to prove the truth. However, by using inductive and deductive reasoning, we can get closer. While both are based on evidence, they provide two different ways of solving problems, making decisions, and evaluating facts. But before we take a closer look at the difference between inductive versus deductive reasoning, what …

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Lethologica: what happens when a word is on the tip of the tongue

“Wait, I swear, I know this!” you say. “Give me a second, it’s on the tip of my tongue… Does it start with a K? Maybe a C?” You feel like you are just about to remember, but somehow the memory feels stuck in your mouth. This is the tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon, also known as lethologica. …

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Memory bias: how selective recall can impact your memories

How many times have you forgotten where you left your keys? What about your friend who always seems to make up events that never happened? Do you ever struggle to remember someone’s name? Don’t worry—you’re not the only one. Our memory is far from perfect, and the memory bias effect doesn’t help. A memory bias …

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Exaggeration: why we make a mountain out of a molehill

In French, we have an expression to describe a situation where someone makes too much of a minor issue: “C’est une tempête dans un verre d’eau.” It’s a storm in a glass of water. Funnily enough, British people talk about a storm in a teacup, and American people talk about a tempest in a teapot. …

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Hindsight bias: the knew-it-all-along phenomenon

Historians and physicians alike are constantly fighting an invisible beast: the hindsight bias, also known as creeping determinism, which is the tendency for people to perceive past outcomes as having been more predictable than they actually were. Linked to distortions of our memories, the hindsight bias causes us to think we knew how an event …

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The hermeneutic circle: a key to critical reading

For a text to be interpreted, you need a text and an interpreter. This may seem obvious, but too often we forget that our interpretation of a text is shaped by our pre-existing beliefs, knowledge, and expectations. Hermeneutics is the branch of research that deals with interpretation. When we interpret a text, it’s not a …

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Jumping to conclusions: the inference-observation confusion

Do you know someone who always seems to jump to conclusions? While this behaviour may be more obvious in some people than in others, we are all prone to it. In fact, doctors themselves often jump to conclusions: “Most incorrect diagnoses are due to physicians’ misconceptions of their patients, not technical mistakes like a faulty …

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Survivorship bias: when failure gets forgotten

We all know that one chain-smoker who lived an old, healthy life. We read everyday about Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg—college dropouts who started billion-dollar companies. And we tend to attribute our own success to dedication rather than luck. These are all typical examples of survivorship bias. Survivorship bias is a common bias …

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How to practice nuanced thinking

“This is just wrong.” How many times have you heard that phrase during a heated conversation? Such categorical statements never seem to help in coming to an agreement, or at least to create opportunities to learn. Whether at an interpersonal level or at a broader scale, a lack of nuanced thinking can have a significant …

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The collective brain: where does innovation come from?

Plato, Leonardo Da Vinci, Albert Einstein, Mary Shelley, Frida Kahlo… When we think about the most famous thinkers, inventors, and creators in history, we often picture one specific individual—a genius who uncovered something new where nobody was looking. However, this poetic vision of the innovator as a solo explorer doesn’t reflect the reality of humanity’s …

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