FYI: This post is piggybacking off Tyler Cowen’s book, which I did a book review on, as you so vividly remember. In short, he claims that we are immune to biases.
To answer the question I posed: no. We can fall prey to biases just like everyone else.
Check out this list of cognitive biases on Wikipedia and see which ones you fall prey to regularly. Cognitive biases are fascinating and it’s a humbling experience going through this list, though some are more difficult to recognize in ourselves than others since they’re carried out unconsciously. I myself fall prey to the following, some more often than others:
- Bias blind spot; in which one believes themselves to be less biased than others, thank you very much, Mr. Cowen.
- Confirmation bias; in which one seeks out information that enhances beliefs that one already holds. This is probably one of the most silent-but-deadly biases.
- Curse of knowledge; in which one who is knowledgeable on a topic is incapable of imagining how said topic is understood by the less informed.
- Empathy gap; in which one underestimates the power of feelings in oneself or in others (I’m sure this is a big one for other autistic people).
- Essentialism; in which one categorizes according to essential nature despite variations. For example, erroneously assuming that Republicans are all the same and not making an effort to understand the views of each individual Republican on a case-by-case basis.
- False-consensus effect; in which one overestimates how much people agree with him or her.
- Normalcy bias; in which one doesn’t prepare for a impending disaster that has never happened before.
- Optimism bias; in which one overestimates favorable outcomes.
- Illusion of asymmetric insight; in which one believes that one knows more about their peers than their peers know about them.
- Trait “hey-‘trait’-sounds-a-lot-like-‘train'” ascription bias; in which one believes that others have stable personalities while he/she sees him/herself as constantly changing.
I’ve dealt with more in the past, of course, and I probably fall prey to more but these are some of the ones that I know I currently suffer. I think the most important ones for people to read into are the Forer/Barnum effect, confirmation bias, availability heuristic, pareidolia, the just-world phenomenon, and, for the more easily persuaded, the rhyme-as-reason effect.