Heuristics are efficient devices insofar as they help you solve problems. They may not help you much to advance the frontier of science, but they still may make you live longer. Wikipedia points at “Some commonplace heuristics“ (from How to Solve It):
- If you are having difficulty understanding a problem, try drawing a picture.
- If you can’t find a solution, try assuming that you have a solution and seeing what you can derive from that (“working backward”).
- If the problem is abstract, try examining a concrete example.
- Try solving a more general problem first (the “inventor’s paradox”: the more ambitious plan may have more chances of success).
But beware of other psychological heuristics:
- Affect heuristic
- Contagion heuristic
- Effort heuristic
- Familiarity heuristic
- Fluency heuristic
- Peak-end rule
- Recognition heuristic
- Scarcity heuristic
- Similarity heuristic
- Simulation heuristic
- Social proof
- Take-the-best heuristic
And, most importantly beware of this long list of cognitive biases.
After you are done reading this you should agree that more likely than not, you are not a reasonable person, so don’t trust your–or somebody else’s–supposedly reasonable anecdotes. And of course, you can fire all of these back to anyone who calls you unreasonable.