The Illusion of Being Right

Sohail Virani2023-10-22

Tackling Confirmation bias to embrace open-mindedness and more.

Good morning readers! Welcome back to Vitality Digest. In today’s installment, we’re gonna dive into one of the most common human tendencies that restrain us from understanding the world as it is.

How do you react to conflicting opinions? (Be honest!)


Confirmation bias - It’s not just you.

Confirmation bias is the psychological phenomenon where individuals tend to seek, interpret, and remember information that confirms their existing beliefs or opinions. This is one of the most common cognitive biases and is noticeable in almost everyone’s behaviour leading to irrational and biased processing of information.

One theory suggests that our brains are constantly bombarded with a sh*t ton of information and to process all of it quickly, it uses this bias as a cognitive shortcut. When we find information that is consistent with our beliefs and ideas, it’s easier for our minds to process, thereby saving energy that can spent elsewhere.

Confirmation bias is evident in all contexts of life from politics to investments and from historical events to shopping choices. Here’s a personal example to demonstrate it’s effect:

Anytime Hamilton commits a mistake, which he rarely does ;) , I try to find reasons as to why it wasn’t really his fault. Maybe it was just a racing incident or maybe it was just that the car was underperforming. And when I do find sources that align with my opinion, I tend to favour it without fact-checking.

This is a huge blunder. The example above may not be harmful, but confirmation bias does play a role in negatively impacting people’s lives.

For instance, In legal proceedings, it's not uncommon for judges and jurors to develop preconceived notions regarding a defendant's guilt or innocence before the full scope of evidence is presented. Once such opinions are formed, confirmation bias can hinder their capacity to objectively consider new information that arises during the trial, potentially resulting in unfair or biased verdicts.

Breaking free from the trap

  1. Acknowledge the bias: Being self-aware of the fact that you may be prone to confirmation bias, just like anyone else can get you started on breaking free from this trap.
  2. Fact Check: Don’t just rely on one source of information, compare results from multiple sources to arrive at a conclusion.
  3. Think Critically: Trying to evaluate information objectively by analyzing facts and looking at a scenario from multiple perspectives can help in avoiding this fallacy.

Are SMART goals really smart?

S.M.A.R.T. goals are a framework of goal-setting that explores what kind of goals to set in order to realistically achieve them.

The SMART acronym, which stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound, often earns the nickname "cringe" among business students due to its frequent appearance in textbooks. However, let's remain objective and delve into its principles without confirmation bias getting in the way.

On one hand, Smart goals can quantify how your goals should look like. They shouldn’t be vague, can be measured easily, are realistic and relevant and also time sensitive.

On the other hand, they don’t factor in adaptability and flexibility in rapidly changing environments. Having 5 quantifiable factors for your goals may also stifle creativity and innovation. Moreover, certain factors may appear repetitive since they frequently overlap. For instance, when goals align with broader objectives, they tend to be inherently time-bound. Take the urgency of addressing climate change, for instance, as it's more relevant than ever, and time is running out before we reach a critical point of no return.

Certainly, when a goal is specific, the specificity often incorporates the measurement aspect. For instance, if your goal is to "boost your company's sales by 20%," then the "20%" not only makes the goal specific but also inherently quantifiable.

We're not advocating for the complete abandonment of SMART goals, but it's vital to acknowledge that not all goals neatly conform to the SMART framework, particularly creative or visionary ones. The key here is to choose a goal-setting approach that harmonizes with your distinct objectives, personal preferences, and the inherent nature of the goal you're striving to achieve.

One really cool way to discover more goal-setting techniques is by subscribing to this newsletter if you haven’t already and then sharing with your loved ones, the gift of a weekly newsletter designed with the intent to help everyone grow and flourish together. We don’t spam. Pinky swear.


Refer a friend

Posture - Don’t slouch

Maintaining good posture is more than just standing up straight. It plays a significant role in your overall health and well-being. Whether you're sitting at a desk, walking, or even sleeping, your posture can impact various aspects of your life.

The Benefits of Good Posture:

  1. Reduced Muscular Strain: Good posture helps distribute the load on our muscles and joints evenly, reducing the risk of strain and discomfort.
  2. Improved Breathing: Proper alignment of the spine and ribcage allows for easier and more efficient breathing, enhancing oxygen intake.
  3. Enhanced Confidence: Maintaining an upright posture can boost self-confidence and help us appear more self-assured to others. It’s a reflection of how we present ourselves.
  4. Pain Prevention: Good posture can help prevent chronic issues like back and neck pain, as well as headaches.

Maintaining Good Posture:

  1. Sit Ergonomically: When sitting, ensure your chair and desk are at the right height, and use a chair with good lumbar support. Keep your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Regular Breaks: If you have a sedentary job, take short breaks to stand up, stretch, and walk around.
  3. Exercise: Engage in exercises that strengthen core muscles, as they play a crucial role in maintaining good posture. Plus you build abs. Abs are nice.
  4. Sleep Well: Choose a mattress and pillow that support the natural curvature of your spine. Sleeping positions can also affect your posture.

Christopher Nolan - Visionary Storyteller

Image source: NME

One of the most brilliant and innovative filmmakers of our time, Christopher Nolan likes to bend reality and push the boundaries of storytelling, creating works that leave indelible marks on the world of cinema.

Christopher Edward Nolan was born on 30 July 1970 in Westminster, London.

Nolan is known for his non-linear narratives and complex storytelling. Films like Memento, Inception, and Interstellar have challenged audiences' perceptions of reality and time.

During his formative years, Christopher Nolan drew significant inspiration from the creations of Ridley Scott and iconic science fiction classics like 2001: A Space Odyssey and Star Wars. He was deeply captivated by the latter film and conducted extensive research into its production. Nolan's passion for filmmaking ignited at a young age when, at just seven years old, he started crafting short films using his father's Super 8 camera, often starring his action figures as the characters.

Nolan is a strong advocate for using practical effects and minimal CGI in his films. This commitment to realism and practicality sets him apart in an industry that often relies heavily on digital effects. That burning plane in Tenet was a real 747. The black hole depicted in Interstellar was really close to the actual imagery. Nolan brought in a team of 30 people alongside Nobel laureate, Kip Thorne to build the simulation. It took their computers more than 100 hours to generate it.

Christopher Nolan's impact on the film industry is immeasurable. His commitment to storytelling, innovative techniques, and the ability to challenge audiences' perceptions have solidified his place as a creative genius.

Fun fact: Nolan doesn’t carry a smartphone and uses a traditional flip phone instead. His deliberate choice to abstain from extensive technology usage has played a part in shaping the cinematic masterpieces we admire today.

The untold costs of investing

Okay here’s something from our business textbooks that ain’t cringe.

Opportunity Costs. Simply put, these costs are the benefits we forgo when choosing one investment option over another. Opportunity costs are the value of what you could have gained from your second-best choice when you make a decision. In the context of investing, it's the potential returns you miss out on when you commit to one investment rather than another.

They also play a crucial role outside the sphere of finance. Whether it's deciding on a career path, investing in education, or even choosing how to spend your free time, every decision requires a trade-off. By selecting one option, you're inevitably sacrificing the benefits of another.

Time is one of the most precious resources subject to opportunity costs. For every hour spent on one activity, there's an alternative activity that remains unexplored. This is why time management is crucial in optimizing the opportunities we pursue.

Opportunity costs are the silent influencers of our daily lives. They guide our choices, encouraging us to weigh the benefits of one decision against the potential gains we forego. Understanding and recognizing opportunity costs can help us be more thoughtful and informed in our decision-making process.

That’s it for this week’s issue. If you liked what you read, It would mean the world to me if you shared it with your friends and family. Sharing is the most powerful and important way for others to discover Vitality Digest and join our vibrant community. Plus, there’s more to come. We’ve got some exciting stuff planned for our milestone issue happening next week.


Stay vital and have a great week.

Yours truly,


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