The Perils of Perception
How to correctly perceive what surrounds us
What is the obesity rate in your country? Do you consume too much sugar? How many immigrants are there in Italy? It might be surprising to you, but the answers to these questions might be very different to what you think. The Perils of Perception tackles some of the mechanisms that lead us to having such a distorted perception of the world around us, and explains how mass media, companies and politicians exploit these mechanisms to manipulate public opinion in their favor. In the era of fake news, in a world defined by post-truth, there is nothing more important than distinguishing between what’s real and what is just presented as such.
Many useful tips to:
- Realize that our perception of many topics does not line up with reality.
- Understand the cognitive tricks that make us fall into mistaken ways of thinking.
- Have a bit more optimistic picture of the future (and the present), thanks to the understanding that not everything that is sold as a tragedy is true.
Are we surrounded by perils, or is our perception wrong?
Over the past ten years Bobby Duffy studied public misperceptions with hundreds of surveys carried out in dozens of countries. These studies touched upon private topics, such as health and sexuality, as well as hot topics such as crime and immigration. What came to light is the fact that regardless of the country, the level of education or income, we almost always have a perception that is far from reality. These wrong perceptions can sometimes be harmless, but in many cases they hide a much deeper problem: distancing ourselves from reality, which can lead us to not only making bad decisions due to misinformation, but also make us victims of manipulation from politicians, companies and mass media.
There are five points we must keep in mind about our misperceptions:
- Many of us have an incorrect understanding of social and political facts;
- We depend on what we are being told just as much as on how we think;
- On many occasions our misperceptions are biased by our emotional responses, which influence our perception of reality;
- Understanding the reasons behind our misperceptions can help us make changes, individually and collectively;
- Not all hope is lost: the world is not getting worse, it actually keeps getting better, and we are not enslaved by the mechanisms behind our wrongful perception of reality.
The key ideas of "The Perils of Perception"
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