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How to deal with goof ball decisions, idiotic irrationality and Cognitive Bias.

One Hundred Seventeen

That’s how many Ah-Ha and Ha-Ha Cognitive Biases I counted.  117.

I say Ah-Ha, because reading about them explains why people make the stupidest decisions and behave boldly-irrational.

I say Ha-Ha, because I have to laugh at myself and how many of these decision-making, behavioral, belief and social biases I allow to tarnish my day-to-day adventures.  Turns out, I’m biased as hell.  Just like everyone else.  But, I’m gonna do something about it.  How about you?

Because familiarity with the In’s and Out’s of human behavior is valuable, learning more about Cognitive Bias is wise.  When we understand why normally sane and reasonable we and others make goof-ball decisions and behave idiotically-irrational, we can do something positive to correct or avoid them.

Of the 117, I wanted to talk about 2 of them.  They aren’t really related in nature, but I think you may be familiar with both.

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First up, the…

Illusion of Control Bias

The Illusion of Control Bias is the belief that one can actually control other people, time, events and chance. When people drop the ball, disappoint and disappear under pressure, it’s normal and natural to feel angry.  Bigger problems bloom when we allow our anger to fester and obsess abscess.  When that happens, the attractive attitude and approach required in our next engagement, and the next, is poisoned.  We kill our futures with poison from our angry past.  This is self destructive and repels opportunity.

Staying angry is a manifestation of The Illusion Of Control Bias.  You stay angry because you thought you could control people, time, events and chance, it’s impossible.  Consciously avoiding the Illusion of Control Bias, and understanding that the only thing we can control is us, allows us to express and relieve our anger if we must, then quickly re-inflate our flaccid attitude and reengage in the positive.

I’ll end this section my saying, “Hi, my name is Ken Brand and I’m a Control Freak. Capital C, capital F.  Maybe all caps?  I have an Illusion Of Control problem and from this day forward I will strive to focus on doing my best and controlling the only person I really have power over, myself.

Next up, the…

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Semmelweis Reflex Bias

The Semmelweis Reflex Bias blinds us when we discount new knowledge because it contradicts entrenched norms, beliefs and paradigms.

For example, we’ve been fighting to survive some time. Most of us have blisters on our feet, stained optimism and weary spirits.  We’re beginning to see and feel signs of recovery.  Yea!  We want to believe.

A word of caution, as we begin to believe, we mustn’t allow the Semmelweis Bias to lullaby our logic and us into final oblivion.  More to the point, if we want to believe things are on the upswing,  and we’re introduced to contradictory information we shouldn’t scoff, paint it negative and ignore it.  Skipping right off the cliff.

Guess what.  This may scare the crap out of you.  But you need to know.  Don’t let The Semmelweis Reflex bias prevent you from reading Rob’s post Something Wicked This Way Comes.

Rob’s post includes authoritative and semi-positive predictions about where our rosy real estate market is headed.  Rob also shares some disturbing trends you might not know about and people aren’t talking about.

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Do yourself a favor and read it now.

lastly, I’ll close with..

3 Take-Aways

  1. The more we know about human behavior, ours and theirs, the better off we are. Let’s familiarize ourselves with the symptoms and effects of Cognitive Bias, we’ll all benefit.
  2. No matter what happens and who disappoints, let’s not allow the Illusion of Control Bias to keep us angry, sad and unattractive.  The only thing we can control is ourselves.  Let’s do our best and let the rest go.
  3. We may not be out of the woods. Uggg.  Possibly we’re in the eye of the storm.  I’m not sure, nobody is sure.  Whether the market is going up or down, the level of In-Person and On-Purpose contact and conversation should be more intense, more relevant and more frequent than ever before.

Like I said, thanks for reading.  Cheers.

Photo Credit.

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Written By

Ken Brand - Prudential Gary Greene, Realtors. I’ve proudly worn a Realtor tattoo for over 10,957+ days, practicing our craft in San Diego, Austin, Aspen and now, The Woodlands, TX. As a life long learner, I’ve studied, read, written, taught, observed and participated in spectacular face plant failures and giddy inducing triumphs. I invite you to read my blog posts here at Agent Genius and On the lighter side, you can follow my folly on Twitter and Facebook. Of course, you’re always to welcome to take the shortcut and call: 832-797-1779.



  1. Fred Romano

    May 24, 2010 at 8:08 am

    Ken – Just read this post – to be honest I have no idea what the hell you are saying! It was like reading Chinese with some English words mixed in… One order of General Tso for me please 🙂

    • Ken Brand

      May 24, 2010 at 9:05 am

      Thanks for giving a whirl Fred. Candidly, sometimes when I spill the english in my head, onto the keyboard, I get Chop Suey. I owe you and some General Tso Chicken. Cheers.

  2. Linsey

    May 24, 2010 at 8:24 am

    I relate all to well to the ‘Illusion of Control’. I am a control freak. For some reason, that’s a tough one for me to learn. Given the number of lessons to the contrary – you’d think I’d figure that one out. Nice reminder.

    Cheers Ken! 🙂

    • Ken Brand

      May 24, 2010 at 9:05 am

      What, you a “Control Freak”. No way:-) Cheers to you too. thanks.

  3. Joe

    May 24, 2010 at 8:46 am

    Interesting observations on anger, especially. I think anger’s root is a sense of self-disappointment. Whether from childhood neglect, and/or current life style choices. Forgiveness of the past and making healthy decisions today go a long way in keeping anger in check.

    • Ken Brand

      May 24, 2010 at 9:09 am

      Anger, disappointment, disapproval, resentment, regret….all suck the life outta today’s and tomorrows. That’s for sure. I think the real estate business gives us hourly opportunities to focus on the negative or the positive. I aim for positive, but occasionally, negativity shrapnel flies fast and furious. Staying focused and positive (but realistic) is a full time job.

      Thanks for the sharing. Cheers.

  4. Jeff Corbett

    May 24, 2010 at 7:16 pm

    I like your topic Ken…

    The psychological underpinnings of decision making and personal belief systems have always fascinated me…especially when purposefully exploited in the arenas of marketing and finance.
    Considering the forum: Effective Social Media ‘How To’ strategies (and strategists) should be rooted in understanding, navigating and manipulating certain cognitive biases.

    You may have inspired me to write 🙂


    • Ken Brand

      May 25, 2010 at 7:03 am

      Yeah, there’s alot to know that explains, bizarre, but semi-predictable behavior. Fascinating stuff, I look forward to you your thoughts.

  5. Joe Loomer

    May 25, 2010 at 6:54 am

    Had to wash down my Illusion of Control Bias several times before finishing the post! Also had to run and share. I’ll hop on Fred’s comment here and twist it to the point of saying I always read your posts twice before I comment. I think you do it on purpose just to make me – but that might be my RAS talking ;).

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

  6. Ken Brand

    May 25, 2010 at 7:05 am

    Sometimes I’m not even sure what I said, until I read it a time or two. Cheers Joe.

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