We Hold Other People's Arguments to a Higher Standard than Our Own

You may be a more reasonable person if you could hear your own thoughts coming from someone else.

As much as we'd like to think of ourselves as rational beings with well-thought–out reasons behind our arguments, numerous experiments have shown that that's not the case. We make a lot of bad choices, produce many wrong answers with obvious logical errors, and then come up with lousy arguments to defend them. We do have a critical thinking system to scrutinize claims and statement, but the problem is that this system, as psychologist Daniel Kahneman puts it, is sometimes busy, and often lazy.

But a new experiment suggests there may be an exception to our frequent bad use of reasoning: we're more likely to use sound reasoning when evaluating our arguments if we're tricked into thinking they're actually proposed by someone else .

Cognitive scientist Emmanuel Trouche and his colleagues call this "the selective laziness of reasoning" in their study published recently in Cognitive ScienceTo demonstrate the effect, the researchers asked people to choose an arguments in response to reasoning problems, and they were then asked to evaluate other people's arguments about the same problems.