People Fill Information Gaps with Assumptions

Tags: #perm

Nature abhors a vacuum; the mind abhors a gap in information. When people receive information that is incomplete in some way, they will try to fill the gaps with their own assumptions. We too easily decide that we know things, even when gaps remain; we skim past the gaps in our knowledge and fill in the gaps with myths and stories that help overcome our uncertainty. We make up stories and pretend they are true.

Daniel Kahnemann describes the phenomenon of "what you see is all there is," a cognitive bias that describes how we form opinions based on the information that is readily apparent. We gloss over information that we don't have and therefore come to conclusions too quickly. Often, we tell ourselves stories to help fill the gaps. We shape the information we do have into a coherent narrative that overcomes the missing pieces.

This is an example of how System 1 thinking supersedes System 1 thought. It enables us to make judgments quickly, but these decisions may not be well-informed.