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24 Cognitive Biases That Are Warping Your Perception of Reality

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We are each entitled to our own personal world view.

But unfortunately, when it comes to interpreting information and trying to make objective sense of reality, human brains are hard-wired to make all kinds of mental mistakes that can impact our ability to make rational judgments.

In total, there are over 180 cognitive biases that interfere with how we process data, think critically, and perceive reality.

Flawed Human Reasoning

There is no simple way to get around these basic human instincts, but one thing that we can do is understand the specific mistakes we make and why.

Today’s infographic comes to us from School of Thought, a non-profit dedicated to spreading critical thinking. The graphic describes 24 of the key biases that warp our sense of reality, providing useful examples along the way.

24 Cognitive Biases That Are Warping Your Perception of Reality

At the beginning of the infographic, you may have noticed illustrations of two gentlemen.

In case you were wondering, those happen to represent Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, two of the leading social scientists known for their contributions to this field. Not only did they pioneer work around cognitive biases starting in the late 1960s, but their partnership also resulted in a Nobel Prize in Economics in 2002.

Biases Distorting Reality

Here are some of the biases we found most interesting from the list:

Declinism:
You remember the past as better than it was, and expect the future to be worse than it is likely to be. This is an interesting one, since statistically this is one of the most peaceful and prosperous times in history—yet the 24-hour news cycle rarely reflects this. (For a good example how the world is improving, see these six charts)

Just World Hypothesis:
Your preference for a just world makes you presume that it exists. Of course, it’s much more uncomfortable to think that the world is unfair, but by understanding this you will make more accurate judgments about people and situations.

Belief Bias
If a conclusion supports your existing beliefs, you’ll rationalize anything that supports it. In other words, instead of willingly looking at new information, we are primed to defend our own ideas without actually questioning them.

Framing Effect:
Context and delivery can have a big impact on how a story is interpreted. We must have the humility to recognize that we can be manipulated, and work to limit the effect that framing has on our critical thinking.

The Curse of Knowledge
Ever try to explain something you know intricately and have worked on for many years? It’s hard, because you’ve internalized everything you’ve learned, and now you forget how to explain it. This bias is similar—you know something inside and out, and what is obvious to you is not to others.

Reactance:
Sometimes we all get the urge to do the opposite of what we’re told. Nobody likes being constrained. The only problem is that when we’re in this situation, there is a tendency to overreact and to throw any logic out of the window.

Spotlight Effect:
Because we each live inside our own heads, our natural focus is on what we’re thinking and doing. We project this onto others, and we overestimate how much they notice about how we look or how we act.

Want to see more on cognitive biases? Here are 188 of them in one infographic.

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Maps

Mapped: North America Population Patterns by Density

Nearly half a billion people live on the third-largest continent. We take a closer look in this population map of North America.

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A map of North America along with its population patterns.

Mapped: North America Population Patterns by Density

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

From the icy expanses of the Arctic to the warm Caribbean sea, the North American continent covers nearly 25 million square kilometers, or about 15% of the Earth’s land area. Populating this vast region are nearly half a billion people, spread out from coast to valley, along the edges of arid scrublands and rainforests.

We visualize a map of North America population patterns, including Central America and the Caribbean, with spikes illustrating densely populated areas.

Data for this map is sourced from Statistics Canada, the World Bank, and WorldPop—a research group based out of the University of Southampton that tracks population growth and movement across the globe.

Ranked: Countries and Territories by Population Density

Deep in the Atlantic, seen as a small dot near Haiti on the map, the island state of Bermuda is the most densely populated jurisdiction on the continent. Measuring just 53 km² in area, and home to 65,000 people, results in an average population density of 1,266 people per km².

Also in the Caribbean, Barbados ranks second with an average population density 647 people/km², followed by Puerto Rico, ranked third-highest at 430 people/km², despite its much larger area—9,104 km².

RankCountry/TerritoryAverage Population
Density (per km²)
Area (km²)
1🇧🇲 Bermuda1,22653
2🇧🇧 Barbados647431
3🇵🇷 Puerto Rico4309,104
4🇲🇶 Martinique3931,100
5🇦🇼 Aruba370193
6🇸🇻 El Salvador31821,040
7🇻🇮 Virgin Islands308352
8🇻🇨 Saint Vincent &
the Grenadines
302389
9🇭🇹 Haiti29227,750
10🇱🇨 Saint Lucia269616
11🇬🇵 Guadeloupe2521,780
12🇯🇲 Jamaica24810,991
13🇧🇶 Netherlands Antilles229960
14🇹🇹 Trinidad & Tobago2125,128
15🇩🇴 Dominican Republic18348,730
16🇰🇾 Cayman Islands168262
17🇦🇬 Antigua & Barbuda155443
18🇰🇳 Saint Kitts & Nevis149261
19🇻🇬 British Virgin Islands147153
20🇬🇹 Guatemala134108,890
21🇦🇮 Anguilla129102
22🇨🇺 Cuba102110,860
23🇩🇲 Dominica91754
24🇲🇸 Montserrat91102
25🇨🇷 Costa Rica7851,100
26🇭🇳 Honduras62112,090
27🇲🇽 Mexico531,972,550
28🇹🇨 Turks &
Caicos Islands
47430
29🇳🇮 Nicaragua42129,494
30🇵🇦 Panama3878,200
31🇺🇸 U.S.319,629,091
32🇵🇲 Saint-Pierre
& Miquelon
28242
33🇧🇸 The Bahamas2113,940
34🇧🇿 Belize1222,966
35🇨🇦 Canada39,984,670
36🇬🇱 Greenland02,166,086
37🇺🇸 Navassa Island05.2

Source: WorldAtlas.

Naturally the largest countries on the continent—Canada, the U.S., and Mexico—have some of the lowest average population densities compared to other nations in the region.

However, thanks to their size, their overall population distribution is more apparent on a map of this scale. In Canada, the Greater Toronto Area is home to one-fifth the country’s entire population. In stark contrast, the rest of the country seems almost empty—averaging just 3 people/km².

Major U.S. cities—New York, Chicago, and San Francisco—also stand out, though the more regular dispersion of Americans, particularly in the Northeast, South, and Midwest can also be seen.

Interestingly, Monterrey in Mexico jumps out on the map; the city is built at the foot of Cerro de la Silla, and several districts are densely populated as a result.

Ranked: Continents by Population Density

How does North America compare to the other continents by population density?

Unsurprisingly, thanks to its large land area, as well as comparatively smaller population, North America is one of the least densely populated continents in the world, beaten only by Oceania, which averages 5 people/km², and Antarctica.

RankContinentAverage Population
Density (per/km²)
1Asia149
2Africa49
3Europe32
4South America25
5North America25
6Oceania5
7Antarctica0

Source: World Population Review

In comparison, Asia, while being the largest continent, is also home to 60% of the global population, and averages 149 people/km².

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