Tuesday, January 9, 2018

'The Dispossessed' and Anarchic Musings

Why Le Guin kicks ASS:

(from Pendleton Book Blather circa August 2014) 

For a little perspective on things political (De Toqueville and some Jared Diamond), I am re-reading 'The Dispossessed', by Ursula Le Guin.

Odo, the founding intellect of the 'dispossessed' citizens of Anarres, called herself an anarchist....but her followers never denied they could get along without some kind of collective culture. In implementing her 'anarchy' the Odonians had to introduce the idea of permanent revolution, self-criticism, and a moral conscience that constantly fought against the human tendency to dominate and own.

Since Odo asserted that most of human suffering came from the greedier tendencies of humanity, and the more overt long-term manifestations of that greed such as the accumulation of power and influence, the dogmatism of religion and nationalism, the growth of status structures, the enshrinement of property; and since she, (Le Guin that is), unlike Marx, clearly realized that all these traits were the downsides of well-ingrained survival traits of homo sap...the Odonians realized that their non-very-utopian utopia would be threatened by the tendency of their own creed to become a dogma.

The constant parallels between this struggle, and the similar problems with libertarianism and socialism, cannot be denied. And science, in order to progress, seems to have the same troubles: the constant battle against the rigidity of ideas, the disruption caused by new situations, the recurring ignorance of the less empathetic members of society.

To me, building a civilization is concisely this: Educating a culture to accommodate it to the realities of the universe, against its baser instincts. Any reaction or emotion that is 'natural' should be held in vast suspicion.

'..we didn't come to Anarres for safety, but for freedom. If we must all agree, all work together, we're no better than a machine. If an individual can't work in solidarity with his fellows, it's his duty to work alone. HIs duty and his right. We have been denying people that right. We have been saying, more and more often, you must work with others, you must accept the rule of the majority. But any rule is tyranny. The duty of the individual is to accept no rule, to be the initiator of his acts, to be responsible. Only if he does so will society live, change, adapt, and survive. We are not subjects of a State founded on law, but members of a society founded upon revolution. Revolution is our obligation, our hope for evolution. "The Revolution is in the individual spirit, or it is nowhere. It is for all, or it is for nothing. If it is seen as having an end, it can never truly begin." We can't stop here. We must go on. We must take risks.'
- the 'old miner from the south'

Notice that this does NOT advocate laying around, doing nothing. There is a very strong impulse here to contribute, to improve things, to never be satisfied that you have done enough. 'Freedom' and 'Revolution' for Odonians did not consist of sitting on the front porch drinking beer, bitching about the price of gas, and shooting at the neighbors with an assault rifle.

I would assert that the ultimate goal of libertarians and socialists is the kind of freedom described above: a 'withering away of the state' when all individuals know their responsibilities and their duties, and rules are no longer necessary.

Critics of anarchism, libertarianism and socialism bitch about the problem of pure human cussedness. In response, Le Guin also asserts that there are two kinds of human ambition: the outward one (dominance over others) and the inward (self-sacrifice). Odonians tried to channel natural human aggression into the latter rather than the former. She seemed to think that, in the absence of examples of 'better people', most energetic types would dissipate their excess obnoxiousness by trying to put more English on the universe, and therby improving the lot of everyone.

From the Pendleton Book Blather Facebook group...

Aphorism time!
IGNORISTA: a fanatic of the right, center or left who, with ignorance of and/or contempt of history and science, advocates an activist path that is doomed to repeat the stupidities of the past.
[We (the Space Brothers, who share my brain) are in *cautious* agreement on this point. We smell some smoke here, tho, so we promise to pull the plug if the 'Chao' starts any of the more energetic styles of ranting of which he is so fond. Dipshit indeed.]

A paradox of specialization:
Sometimes the best way to obtain a broad understanding of, well, everything, is to study a VERY specific part of it....but do that very thoroughly. You discover that almost all subjects worth the time are interdisciplinary; in other words, it is almost impossible to get down to the the guts of a thing without wandering off into a related field.
[And I will add; a major bonus of dredging into all this muck? You are no longer a dilettante! You are a buff, a geek, an educated layperson in the field....and you have so many, many fertile questions to follow up on!]
The Vietnam War is a case in point.
1. You can learn the strictly military details; if you consider (like the Vietnamese do) that the war REALLY started in 1946 and that the SECOND part was the one the US was involved in (essentially the day we installed Diem)...military technology? Guerrilla tactics and strategies? The effectiveness of strategic and tactical bombing? The role of civilians?
2. History of communism: how does the Vietnamese version of communism compare to Maoism, or Stalinism, or Titoism for that matter? How do ANY of them relate to Marx or Socialism in general? Did the Vietnamese believe themselves to be part of the Communist International at all, considering that they hated the Chinese and the Russians?
3. Contemporary domestic US politics! Did the war contribute, kick off, distort the political disruption of the late Sixties? How did this affect Presidential politics? Are the lessons and mistakes of the war and the Sixties of any use to us now?
4. Historical domestic politics! Isolationism! The League of Nations! The UN! Anti-communism! European politics between the wars!
5. How does Vietnamese history fit in with the history of the rest of Asia? With the US role there in the Philippines, Japan, China, and Korea? Why was colonial Asia important to the US, when we were (supposedly? Really? Philippines?) not a colonial power?
And on, and on, and on. Several dozen books later (or a few dozen hours on Wikipedia at least), you have a pretty good outline of twen-cent history.

11/4/2014 (Jon Preston) Of Scientists and Salamanders

Surprise, I found the time to read a book. So a feller came into my visitor center striking up a conversation about amphibians. We got to talkin' and I mentioned a little about my stop and go driving on the way to work to get the migrating newts off the road surface and on their merry way to wherever newts go, so's they don't git runned over. I also mentioned to the visitor, that I had once heard a blurb, one time in the past, that became stitched into my memory. It was about a book that an embryologist wrote, you probably guessed it by now, about where the newts are going.
He said oh you mean "Of Scientists and Salamanders." It is the story of Professor Victor Chandler Twitty. Published in 1966. Stanford's Prof. Twitty unlocked a whole bunch of Biologic mysteries including where the newts go. But more, he was a students teacher who's instruction birthed a generation of notable biologists. It is a very intimate, whimsical, funny book about a very smart man who never took himself too seriously and how 61% of 564 newts relocated (forcibly) from their few yards of stream to another stream 7 miles away made it back to their home waters over a six year period. I found a copy on Amazon thanks to this guy. And just to be clear, it came from a little bookshop in New Hampshire.

Bakunin and 'God and the State'

(from Pendleton Book Blather circa 2014)

Lev Tolstoy: "What do you mean, why remember?...If we remember the old, and look it straight in the face, then our new and present violence will also disclose itself." - from 'The Gulag Archipelago' Pt. 3, Ch. 7
Michael Bakunin, form "God and the State"
"All branches of modern science, of true and disinterested science, concur in proclaiming this grand truth, fundamental and decisive: The social world, properly speaking, the human world—in short, humanity—is nothing other than the last and supreme development—at least on our planet and as far as we know—the highest manifestation of animality. But as every development necessarily implies a negation, that of its base or point of departure, humanity is at the same time and essentially the deliberate and gradual negation of the animal element in man; and it is precisely this negation, as rational as it is natural, and rational only because natural—at once historical and logical, as inevitable as the development and realization of all the natural laws in the world—that constitutes and creates the ideal, the world of intellectual and moral convictions."
I am on a sidetrack, looking at Anarcho-Communist history and revolutionary history generally. Bakunin and Kropotkin are the basic sources (with Tolstoy and the French Encyclopedists, first-wave feminism, Locke and Stuart Mill as heavy duty influences). Marx and Engels were Hegelian quasi-mystical hacks, but that doesn't necessarily make either socialism or captial-S-Socialism suspect. K & B had their eyes on the ball and made lifelong efforts to avoid violence and stick to reality.
Bakunin and Kropotkin, in particular, were the main voices in opposition to the 'rightist' or 'individualist' proponents of Social Darwinism. Both of them were trained scientists as well as very outspoken political activists, and were very quick to point out that for many, or even most, animal species, 'survival of the fittest' was best understood as as survival of societies rather than as individuals.
Bakunin also understood, better than Marx or his inheritors ever would, the underlying reality of change in the environment (natural, social, political or whatever), and thus the need for self-criticism, eternal reform and evolution in any society or government.
'Stick a fork in it, it's done.' - the dumbest and most delusional political statement made in this century. US Constitutional nutbags, Randites, and neo-libertarians say this over and over. Meanwhile, in our stupid, supposedly liberal-pinko country, founded on the notion of welcoming anyone and allowing any creed that didn't meddle with politics, women and most minorities still have to sue, beg, and kill to get equality.
'Don't forget Ferguson'
"Suppose a learned academy, composed of the most illustrious representatives of science; suppose this academy charged with legislation for and the organization of society, and that, inspired only by the purest love of truth, it frames none but laws in absolute harmony with the latest discoveries of science. Well, I maintain, for my part, that such legislation and such organization would be a monstrosity, and that for two reasons: first, that human science is always and necessarily imperfect, and that, comparing what it has discovered with what remains to be discovered, we may say that it is still in its cradle. So that were we to try to force the practical life of men, collective as well as individual, into strict and exclusive conformity with the latest data of science, we should condemn society as well as individuals to suffer martyrdom on a bed of Procrustes, which would soon end by dislocating and stifling them, life ever remaining an infinitely greater thing than science."
Yep. THAT would be worse than a religious theocracy. And this is exactly where Plato and his Republic went south into crazy-land. Every philosophy based on moral relativism, those creeds that refused to tackle mysticism as the FIRST delusion to be avoided (Descartes, Hegel, Austrian economics, Marxism, the divine right of kings, etc. etc.), have compounded the irrationality of religion and created worse problems than they ever solved.

(Comment from Wyrdchao Kallisti) And (sorry for leaving out a step in my logic)...moral relativism always collapses into mysticism because, sooner or later, you have to resort to a higher power in order to make your moral decisions for you. If you make the big plunge, and resign yourself to the stark fact that the laws of nature DON'T GIVE A FUCK about humanity, and that you are going to have to deal with that....then you have finally discovered objectivity, and you can start deciding things based on the facts of the case....
From Wikipedia:
By "liberty", Bakunin did not mean an abstract ideal but a concrete reality based on the equal liberty of others. In a positive sense, liberty consists of "the fullest development of all the faculties and powers of every human being, by education, by scientific training, and by material prosperity." Such a conception of liberty is "eminently social, because it can only be realized in society," not in isolation. In a negative sense, liberty is "the revolt of the individual against all divine, collective, and individual authority."
This contrast between the two types of 'liberty' is the fundamental (and needless) divide between libertarians and socialists. Selfish interest vs. blind altruism. Group vs. individual...etc. etc.
We're all in this together, folks...we just disagree on how to get there...

Bakunin was an angry man, of course; I don't think he would have had the energy and courage to take on the questions he did otherwise. But in his later life he was able to correct a lot of his mistakes.
He points out, to oppose the more reactionary social Darwinists, that humans are social, like many other animals...survival of the fittest is more than duking it out tooth and nail; cooperation sometimes works too. Humans and chimps and gorillas and whales and baboons and dogs and ravens have empathy, in other words....but there are two categories of behavior where humans are world champions: we THINIK, and we REBEL. Amusing!
So....an appreciation of fairness and cooperation is built into us from the ground up! Thinking helps us predict events; empathy puts us in the other guy's shoes...and rebellion makes us take action if we think those shoes are going to get stolen. (It could be mine next!).
Thus Bakunin defines both negative liberty (freedom for the individual), and positive liberty (freedom for everyone else). A preference for either can be selfishly motivated, but a person is likely to be happier in the long run if the people around him are happy.
So...when we build a society, we make a choice: are we going to try to maximize individual freedom (greed is good), or collective freedom (fairness is better than nothing). There is a constant tension between the two...
Ideologists say: 'there is a problem, and only WE know how to fix it. Join us! If you don't, you will be a big loser like 'them'.' In other words, a previously homogenous group is now separated into 'us' and 'them'. 'We' know better than 'them'. 'We' can make decisions for 'them'. And 'them' no longer deserve as much freedom as much as 'us'.
Bukunin (spell check!) analogizes (and I paraphrase and explicate):
Science is our mirror (our perceptual filter, our Platonic cave) on reality. Period! It is the Universal Experience, the one thing we could lose tomorrow, and rebuild from the ground up (if we happen to have 3000 years or so of free time) and have essentially the same thing....because it depends on NO assumptions or axioms other than that we are awake and alert and not too distracted by anger or lust....
All religions (and all ideologies as well) probably STARTED as a hypothesis or theory, rationally constructed or not; heck, there's got to be SOME good reason to 'believe', to 'have faith', right? Some basis in reality....
Hah! Those guys looked at the stars in the sky and had these lively old discussions around the cook-fire, trying to figger out what was going on up there. They were all in it together, a nice friendly debate..heck, those things are way the hell up there, what do they have to do with us? What's the use of making a Supreme Court case out of who has the better theory? Let everyone talk, let's see whose brain is on track tonight...
Poor prehistoric dudes..they didn't realize our brains had all these cognitive biases screwing with our perception, did they? So....
The guy with the crazy eyes gets on his feet. He was beat up when he was small, or was born with a brain lesion, or got gored by a gazelle, or something, and he hasn't been quite right since. He starts ranting, a bit. The loudmouth bully guy (someone stole his woman, dammit!) listens raptly, encourages Crazy Eyes, makes suggestions, keeps him stirred up. They get together. They get IDEAS (as in: idealistic). They start to moralize. They start to INTERPRET what they think they see in that mirror. They may even hallucinate, a little. They start to see, and they tell or even compel others to see, their INTERPRETATION rather than the actual, original thing that they saw...
And it all goes down hill from there.
From the Appendix of 'God and the State' (Note 4):
"Must we, then, [because of the tyrannical root of spiritual authority buried there] eliminate from society all instruction and abolish all schools? Far from it! Instruction must be spread among the masses without stint, transforming all the churches, all those temples dedicated to the glory of God and to the slavery of men, into so many schools of human emancipation. But, in the first place, let us understand each other; schools, properly speaking, in a normal society founded on equality and on respect for human liberty, will exist only for children and not for adults; and, in order that they may become schools of emancipation and not of enslavement, it will be necessary to eliminate, first of all, this fiction of God, the eternal and absolute enslaver. The whole education of children and their instruction must be founded on the scientific development of reason, not on that of faith; on the development of personal dignity and independence, not on that of piety and obedience; on the worship of truth and justice at any cost, and above all on respect for humanity, which must replace always and everywhere the worship of divinity. The principle of authority, in the education of children, constitutes the natural point of departure; it is legitimate, necessary, when applied to children of a tender age, whose intelligence has not yet openly developed itself. But as the development of everything, and consequently of education, implies the gradual negation of the point of departure, this principle must diminish as fast as education and instruction advance, giving place to increasing liberty. All rational education is at bottom nothing but this progressive immolation of authority for the benefit of liberty, the final object of education necessarily being the formation of free men full of respect and love for the liberty of others. Therefore the first day of the pupils’ life, if the school takes infants scarcely able as yet to stammer a few words, should be that of the greatest authority and an almost entire absence of liberty; but its last day should be that of the greatest liberty and the absolute abolition of every vestige of the animal or divine principle of authority."
And yes, he ONLY means children. No analogies, please!
This was perverted by impatient Marxist nutbags such as Lenin, and greedy bastards like Stalin, to justify treating ALL (unenlighted) people as 'children'; "We know what's best for you." Therefore the 'dictatorship of the proletariat' became a dictatorship in fact. Liberal meritocrats and right-wing bible freaks and Randite libertarians are not one whit less tyrannical.
Bakunin makes another point, loudly, over and over:
Science doesn't sit still, so academic institutions should NEVER be involved in government. Any organization of 'higher' learning has an implied hierarchy, and any hierarchy tends to dogmatize its basic principles even though science is advancing, walking right out from under those principles, a little every day. Once that happens, the institution is no more competent to run things in the real world than any other ideology...with the added hazard of an apparent monopoly on reason.
Science enlightens; it should not rule. Religions and other ideologies are just poor imitations of science; perception without reasoning. Substituting ideologies doesn't improve things.
Art, on the other hand, embellishes.....it personalizes perceptions. The Critic is one who says: 'The artist is saying [this]. My interpretation is the only correct one.' A Reviewer of art, on the other hand, says: 'I saw [this] in it...the artist put a lot of himself into it, obviously. I like it!' (or 'It's not my cup of tea, though.')
Reviewers are classy: they have developed an instinctive or unconscious preference for higher standards! Critics only have 'refined taste': all their cultured friends know the best things, and...last thing we want to do is go against our friends! "Oh, my reputation, my tenure, my...."
Hmmm. Maybe we need governments to be run by....the artists of history?

Cognitive Biases

(from the Pendleton Book Blather Facebook group)

...and, in case you are a late comer and have missed the point:
WHY cognitive biases? Why are they interesting?
IM(not so)HO, this is the single most important area of sociology after demographics, because it studies the decision making of individuals and groups. It is practical!
Hard sciences (math, physics, chemistry, etc.): Good grounding in the cognitive sciences makes it easier for scientists, particularly physicists, to construct models (both for themselves and for us) that are less likely to be anthopocentric constructs and hopefully more likely to actually describe physical reality. If that is possible. Lisa Randall, Steven Hawking, and the late Richard Feynmann are/were particularly good at this.
Economics particularly suffers from one particular flaw: EVERYBODY lies about money. And cognitive science can help disperse the smoke. Paul Krugman (http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/) continually refers, in his wonkier postings, to the problems economists run into when they try to model the decision making process of different 'actors' (consumers, stock market players/brokers/exchanges, governments).
Medical science, particularly diagnostic and preventive medicine: A real minefield, here....people make MAJOR decisions about their own health, throughout life, and are almost never capable of objective judgement in that regard. And because of our extremely screwed up health care system, medical professionals and institutions also suffer from built in biases, as the result of ambiguous mandates and many disincentives to actual provide appropriate care.
I could go on, and on, and on....

History! Gah! Helps us understand and correct for the biases of individual and group decision making by both historians and historical actors. Extremely important if you are to comprehend context and compare texts and accounts. After all, they always complain that history is just a long, boring litany of 'kings'...and what do kings do, but make decisions all day long?

EXPERIMENTER'S or EXPECTATION BIAS: The tendency for experimenters to believe, certify, and publish data that agree with their expectations for the outcome of an experiment, and to disbelieve, discard, or downgrade the corresponding weightings for data that appear to conflict with those expectations.
Cold Fusion. The Piltdown Man. Differences in intelligence based on race or gender. Statin drugs. The Tonkin Gulf Incident.
They tell themselves: "Why do all this work, waste all this money, invest all this emotional capital...and find out we are wrong?" Even if they are honest, they are going to unconsciously EXPECT results to be different.
Negative findings are seldom published; after all, the experimenter has just wasted his time! He would rather toss his data in the trash, design a NEW experiment, and hope that THAT turns out the way he expected.

EXAGGERATED EXPECTATION Based on the estimates, real-world evidence turns out to be less extreme than our expectations (conditionally inverse of the conservatism bias).
Translated....the universe is more boring than we give it credit for....sure, we are surprised (the conservative bias) when we flip six heads in a row...but that doesn't happen often. Our poor little memories are associative, and the extremes and landmarks and aberrations are the anchors for it. We forget the boring stretch of straight road between the curves...
This is another case (sort of the opposite of conservative bias), where we have a difficult time understand the true meaning of 'random'. Probability is NOT intuitive.

ENDOWMENT EFFECT: The fact that people often demand much more to give up an object than they would be willing to pay to acquire it.
Essentially, psychological researchers have proved that the perceived value of an object almost IMMEDIATELY doubles (at least) once the person has purchased or acquired it. Bizarre and profoundly strange? I am always wondering if this is the true root cause of acquisitiveness, the inability of many greedy people to relinquish something once they've gained possession of it, legally or not.
Yes, you had really better read the link on this particular one. It has profound effects on human economic activity, to the point where it is an absolutely essential field of study for marketers.

EMPATHY GAP: The tendency to underestimate the influence or strength of feelings, in either oneself or others.
This is where we make a decision based on emotional factors ('I wanted to hit that guy.') and then later rationalize it ('I wanted to hit him because looked at me funny.').
By the same token, you are likely to attribute to evil what may merely be bad anger management (using the same situation in reverse).
So...honesty (to yourself and through empathy) is always the best politcy here. Delusion starts by denying that you and other people lack feelings.

CURSE OF KNOWLEDGE: When better-informed people find it extremely difficult to think about problems from the perspective of lesser-informed people.
So this should make anyone who has been accused of being 'elitist' feel a little better. This is also one piece of the Dunning-Kruger syndrome.
As a science and computer geek, I find this 'curse' fairly easy to comprehend. I have spent 40 years overdosing on science, and almost 35 years learning about computers. And I have spent at least that long trying to explain WHY these things work the way they do.
And...I do have a solution to the 'curse': I revert back mentally to the time when I was first learning the thing the less informed person is stuck on, and pretend I am in the same state of ignorance. Believe it or not, this has helped me greatly with my customers, when I bother to slow down and try it.

DISTINCTION BIAS: The tendency to view two options as more dissimilar when evaluating them simultaneously than when evaluating them separately.
-- and --
CONTRAST EFFECT: The enhancement or reduction of a certain perception's stimuli when compared with a recently observed, contrasting object.
The first can also be called the 'less-is-better effect'; we tend to notice more defining details when comparing two similar objects side-by-side; we are more likely to judge something fairly if we isolate it from other things we might want to compare it against.
The second one is very similar; the way to avoid it is to realize that proximity in TIME can also effect one's perception. Ferinstance, you are more likely to think a person is attractive if you have just been shown a picture of someone that is attractive.
These two just underline the fact that our brains are NOT logic engines; we are NOT good at filtering out the emotional and cooincidentially irrelevant details of life to arrive at the basic data.

DENOMINATION EFFECT: The tendency to spend more money when it is denominated in small amounts (e.g. coins) rather than large amounts (e.g. bills).
I am guessing that most people are reluctant to break large bills just to buy something small....or possibly there is a certain amount of superstitious awe involved in 'disrupting' round numbers?
Question: If you were given exactly $1000 as a windfall, and did not have any immediate needs...how likely are you to spend it on something trivial like a large TV? Or would you feel 'better' saving for later, paying rent or buying food with it?
If, on the other hand, you get a tax return for $738.25, would you be more likely to spend it immediately on non-essentials?
I think this bias might be related to the well-known marketing tactic of (ferinstance) selling a product for $39.95 rather than $40. The 'random' string of digits in the former are less intimidating that the round number of the latter.

DECOY EFFECT: Preferences for either option A or B changes in favor of option B when option C is presented, which is similar to option B but in no way better.
Muddying the waters, essentially. A common marketing tactic that takes advantage of this bias involves offering a third alternative that is more expensive BUT has fewer positive features. This makes the more expensive of the original two choices look more appealing by contrast.

CONSERVATIVE/REGRESSIVE BIAS: A certain state of mind wherein high values and high likelihoods are overestimated while low values and low likelihoods are underestimated.
-- and/or --
BAYESIAN CONSERVATISM: The tendency to revise one's belief insufficiently when presented with new evidence.
Eek. Very closely correlated these are.
The first results in the tendency to ignore 'data' that is in the minority (to use some rather slanted terms, heheh)....one could say that this type of conservatism defines the natural anti-democratic strain in human nature. This is a much less loaded explanation that avoids referring to such tendencies as 'narcissism', 'egotism', and 'greed'. Smirk.
The second can be mistaken for plain old pigheadedness, but....in both of these cases, we are talking about biases here, not necessarily fully conscious choices. In other words..like most of this list, we REALLY REALLY have to work hard to fight against these things, dredge them up and examine them consciously rather than let them quietly build delusions for you.

CONJUNCTION FALLACY: The tendency to assume that specific conditions are more probable than general ones.
An example spells this out best:
"Linda is 31 years old, single, outspoken, and very bright. She majored in philosophy. As a student, she was deeply concerned with issues of discrimination and social justice, and also participated in anti-nuclear demonstrations.
Which is more probable?
A. Linda is a bank teller.
B. Linda is a bank teller and is active in the feminist movement."
Answer is A, but the probabilistically naive vastly favor B. Whew. A combination of attributes is ALWAYS less likely than each attribute separately.
This is a hard one, so give this a serious think. Try to ignore the intentional political/social smoke screen this question raises in your face (which leverages another common bias) and get to the meat of the thing...
This fallacy can be taken advantage of in a number of subtle ways, including suckering people into accepting short-cuts in arguments that are not logically valid, or are inconsistent with reality.
Conspiracy buffs are great practitioners:
Which is more probable?
A. Traffic cameras are used to enforce traffic laws.
B. Traffic cameras are used to enforce traffic laws and spy on private citizens.

CONGRUENCE BIAS: The tendency to test hypotheses exclusively through direct testing, instead of testing possible alternative hypotheses.
Very, very common with 'purchased research' that is unlikely to be subjected to heavy peer review. Basically, you set up an experiment (or test a product or idea) only to verify that the positive result is valid (e.g. push the button, the door opens), without testing whether an alternative might also yield an interesting results (e.g. hit another button, or no button, and the door still opens).
Drug trials are major benefactor of this bias, esp. since the placebo effect can cause a false correlation between the effectiveness of a drug and the (possibly ephemeral) alleviation of the illness.

CLUSTERING ILLUSION: The tendency to overestimate the importance of small runs, streaks, or clusters in large samples of random data (that is, seeing phantom patterns).
Yup. Another illustration of how poorly equipped we are to handle the world as it is.....and why the gambling industry exists.

CHEERLEADER EFFECT: The tendency for people to appear more attractive in a group than in isolation.
Hmmmm. Not sure how one would go about avoiding this one. This is a probably a combination of vanity and a desire to be part of a group...?

CHOICE-SUPPORTIVE BIAS: The tendency to remember one's choices as better than they actually were.
There are many related biases going on here as well, including hindsight bias, selective memory, and failure to remember neutral or negative outcomes...remembering things accurately is hard or impossible, and unless you are simply trying to become less deluded, it is probably pointless to worry about what has already happened.
So the takeaway from this should probably be: Don't depend on your brilliant judgement for the next big decision you make on this subject...you may have been lucky, or you may have made the right decision for the wrong reason. Certainly don't expect to have learned everything already! Get all the data you can, every time..if you have time.

BIAS BLIND SPOT: The tendency to see oneself as less biased than other people, or to be able to identify more cognitive biases in others than in oneself.
This is the main (valid) complaint against the 'liberal elite'. Ahem.

BELIEF BIAS: An effect where someone's evaluation of the logical strength of an argument is biased by the believability of the conclusion.
Captain Obvious strikes again! Dishonesty starts at home....

BASE RATE FALLACY: The tendency to ignore base rate information (generic, general information) and focus on specific information (information only pertaining to a certain case).
A group of policemen have breathalyzers displaying false drunkenness in 5% of the cases tested. However, the breathalyzers never fail to detect a truly drunk person. 1/1000 of drivers are driving drunk. Suppose the policemen then stops a driver at random, and force them to take a breathalyzer test. It indicates that he or she is drunk. We assume you don't know anything else about him or her. How high is the probability he or she really is drunk?
Many would answer as high as 95%, but the correct probability is about 2%.....think about it: out of 1000 drivers, 50 (5%) will fail a breathalyzer. Only one of those thousand is probably drunk, so it is at least FORTY-NINE TIMES MORE LIKELY that the policemen will 'fail' a sober person (assuming the drunk is caught and tested).
This is a tricky bias to get the head around, but very, very common. People are terrible at estimating probabilities, much less comparing them. And as you might guess in the example above, people will tend to fudge their estimates in the direction they expect them to go....

BANDWAGON EFFECT: The tendency to do (or believe) things because many other people do (or believe) the same. Related to groupthink and herd behavior.
Well...this one SHOULD be obvious. But amazing how often people forget it. A little bit of solitary mulling-over is all important.

BACKFIRE EFFECT: When people react to disconfirming evidence by strengthening their beliefs.
Another one that seems obvious...until you find yourself doing it. Again...question your fundamentals whenever you think you can stand the pain of it.

AVAILABILITY CASCADE: A self-reinforcing process in which a collective belief gains more and more plausibility through its increasing repetition in public discourse (or "repeat something long enough and it will become true").
I could hardly wait for this one. Merciful Jeebus. Do I really have to give any examples for this, or explain how incredibly damaging this kind of thing is? Let's have fun with this one, campers! Name your favorite item of topical, shrilly repeated gibberish.

ATTENTIONAL BIAS: The tendency of our perception to be affected by our recurring thoughts.
AVAILABILITY HEURISTIC: The tendency to overestimate the likelihood of events with greater "availability" in memory, which can be influenced by how recent the memories are or how unusual or emotionally charged they may be.
Slightly different causes, same general effect, here. PTSD would be a very good example, probably a mix of both tendencies.
'You are what you have been.' Intentional cultivation of empathy, perhaps by immersing oneself in the thought processes of different or even opposing points of view, can be of help here. Sink yourself into someone you are not....

ANCHORING: The tendency to rely too heavily, or "anchor," on one trait or piece of information when making decisions (usually the first piece of information that we acquire on that subject).
Again...don't get lazy about the information you use (do you even know where you got it?).....find more than one source for your information, and try to use good judgement about the value of each source.  This is one of the most common traits of TeaBaggers: they fixate on one issue and dogmatically defend their narrow view of that issue to the exclusion of others; even ones they share with their fellow circle-the-drainers...

AMBIGUITY EFFECT: The tendency to avoid options for which missing information makes the probability seem 'unknown'.
For example, people will be slow to adopt new methods if they lack information about the outcome. Ignorance is bliss.

Economic Just-So Stories

(from the Pendleton Book Blather Facbook group, circa 2014)

The capitalist dude:  Bob invents a toothbrush; everybody realizes or is told (by people with lots of resources that enables them to do that) that a toothbrush would be a great thing to have.  I (with all my nice property) build a factory to make Bob's toothbrushes, and...hmm...I have to give Bob something for the idea as well (dammit!).  Then I let everyone (since I have some resources to do that) who wants a toothbrush know I've got 'em.  I sell them as dearly as I can, trying to make sure that I cut out any competition that I can, so as to amass the maximum amount of personal resources for the next big thing.  Never know if another opportunity like THIS will over come again!
I am happy, at least.  I have lots more resources than I started with, which makes me important, and allows me to enjoy some luxuries that less important people can't have.  Bob may or may not be happy; people are using his invention, but he sees my luxuries and may realize that he didn't get as much as he might have out of the deal.  The purchasers of toothbrushes may or may not be happy, either.  Toothbrushes certainly make them healthier, but they have neighbors who are sick or even dying because I didn't want what they were able to give me for my toothbrushes.
[Nowhere, in any of this, is any decision made about whether the resources used for this enterprise might be better used somewhere else, or whether, indeed, if the value of these things matches the resources needed to acquire them.  Until my toothbrush factory has some competition, I could care less whether my toothbrushes are useful or if my new factory in Bum Fuck Egypt will use up all their water.  I don't care!  I have lots of stuff to keep me happy in any case.  If competition does manage to surface, I'll drop toothbrushes like a hot rock and take my toys home.  Maybe I can talk Bob into inventing something else people might want....]
The anarchist dude:  I know Bob, who invented a toothbrush just for fun.  He gives me one and makes another for himself.  They are cool!  We feel so much healthier!  Other people like the idea, too, so Bob and I agree to make some more for them as well.  People are so much healthier and happier with their toothbrushes we give them that they don't at all mind letting us visit them at the farm for dinner, as long as we pitch in with the dishes.  Rumour of the improvement this invention makes in the lives of people spreads.

Several months later, another person (Fred) hears of a toothbrush, and would really, really like one.  Sheisse, how the hell will he get one?  Bob and I don't even know he wants one!  Bob and I have never heard of the dude!  Fred pulls up stakes, hops on public transportation, and visits Bob and I.  He hangs around long enough to learn how toothbrushes are made.  He notices that we are using way too much water to make them; in his home province, a very dry place, our process would be impossible to duplicate.  He helps us modify our manufacturing process to be much more water efficient.  He moves back home in a month or two, starts making them there.

I, Bob and Fred are all happy; Bob because he is gratified that his invention is useful, myself because I helped Bob and encouraged him, Fred because he able to give toothbrushes to his neighbors AND make them without destroying the water supply in his home district.  The farmer next door is happy, because his family is healthier and he is proud to feed and house the inventor and workers that make toothbrushes.

Lastly, the users of the toothbrushes are happy; they are healthier and the toothbrush cost them little or nothing.  Attentive neighbors notice that some people of fragile health may become sick if they don't have one, and they travel to Bob and I's area to help us make some for them.  No one who needs a toothbrush need go without one for long.

Other Mullings-over...

(from Pendleton Book Blather, 2014)

"The skein of your life is already woven, your fate is fixed." - Herger from The Thirteenth Warrior
"...a person doesn't die when he should but when he can." - Col. Buendia in One Hundred Years of Solitude
"...Cassandra didn't get nearly the kicking she deserved." - 'Lazarus Long'
A person who is 'fey' is perceived to have a doom; one cannot choose to be fey, but rather it is a discovery one comes to during the course of life. One such is compelled by the nature of their experience and personality to cause a change in the way of the world, large or small. These are the iconoclasts, eccentrics, marchers-to-ones-own-drums, gadflies. But books only get written about people whose doom encompasses them and...therein lies the elbow room that allows free will to get a grip. Even the most glorious and awful persons of history made conscious choices that made them or broke them.
I got the impression from the attitude of Herger in The Thirteenth Warrior that, although the Norns had already created the tapestry of earthly life, it was NOT predictable or forseeable; there was room for manuever, and that made all the difference. One could not change the manner of one's death, for instance, but one could live one's life badly or well and let posterity judge it.
Buliwyf's (and by extension his companions') destiny WAS tied up in the quest to save Hrothgar's kingdom, but the Norsemen probably did not think that the witch was interfering with anyone's fate by pointing this out, but rather directing their attention to a more comfortable (and honorable?) way to meet it. A real Cassandra would have been extremely unpopular and justifiably so.
St. Augustine used the first half of this argument to explain (away) the apparent freedom mankind 'enjoyed' under God's omnipotence. This led to the poisonous idea that bucking God's will was pointless and ultimately damning... and it also aided the Church in convincing Christians to toe the line. The Jesuits had to come back later and remind Christians that what you do in THIS life is also important, because the Roman Church had been reeling under some pretty bad press and they thought it was probably a good idea to make the Church a little more appealing for people outside their usual clientele (i.e. not ignorant peasants). But nobody trusted them much and everyone figured it was just another cynical Counter-Reformation strategy.
Lastly, we come to Col. Buendia. He alone, of all the characters in One Hundred Years of Solitude, seems to have realized what the Norsemen believed to be true; that life is what you make of it, and talented people owe the world a debt for their talent. A busy life leaves little time for an orderly death. Did Dante relagate suicides to such a deep circle of Hell because he considered it a kind of betrayal of humanity?