When we make decisions about the things we really care about — like our health, our families, our jobs, or the world at large — we tell ourselves, “I really thought this through. I did the best I could, right?”
But careful thinking just isn’t enough to understand our minds’ hidden failures. Over the past fifty years, science has discovered common human error patterns — cognitive biases — whereby people of all levels of education and intelligence will misjudge reality, fail to achieve their goals, and make all kinds of self-defeating mistakes. And these biases are so basic and pervasive to human thinking that we’re all making these mistakes every day without even noticing. So what can be done?
Thankfully, careful thinking is no longer the best we can do. By taking lessons from science about the very foundations of human intuition, we can begin patching the problems and find new ways to engage our strengths. We can do better.
And that’s why CFAR exists: to translate research into practice, turn cognitive science into cognitive technology, and bring the fruits of experimental psychology to bear for individuals and the world. We turn mathematical and empirical insights about the human mind into mental exercises that train the everyday skills of making accurate predictions, avoiding self-deception, and getting your motivation where your arithmetic says it should be. And we select and improve our exercises through rapidly iterated testing sessions, through our workshops, and through long-term follow-ups we’re conducting on training with randomized admissions.