First draft



Wrong Thinking - And Cogmitive Distortion

Errors In Thinking - How To Get Poorer Results In Life

Intuition, Useful But Not Accurate - What it is, how to use it, how not to use it. 


How The Mind Works 

The Believing Brain


Going From Some Unsanity To HighSanity - Into A Whole New World Of Happiness And Being  

Emotional Intelligence



Thinking Contents/Links 


Reason:  The capacity human beings have to make sense of things, to establish and verify facts, and to change or justify practices, institutions, and beliefs

Reasoning: The abstract separation of a whole into its constituent parts in order to study the parts and their relations

Emotional reasoning amplifies the effects of other cognitive distortions

Cause-and-effect reasoning is central to human reasoning in everyday life as well as in the disciplines. A dictionary definition is straightforward: One event, the cause, brings about another
event, the effect, through some mechanism. See
Cause And Effect, as this is a key concept to be clear on in life.

You can't come consistently to smart conclusions without using smart thinking.  (Duh!"
                                      The BuddhaKahuna

Emotional reasoning is classified by experts as a type of thinking error.  It is akin to

"I feel it, therefore it is." 

If what I am saying about emotional reasoning pisses you off, you are engaged in emotional reasoning.  If you feel like defending it and pointing out what is wrong with rational thinking, you are engaged in emotional reasoning.

And you can be setting yourself up for problems in life and relationships.  For instance, if you feel threatened by facts brought up in all sincerity from your partner, you may emotionally reason that your partner is a danger, get mad, and then reject the partner and ruin a perfectly good relationship!!!!

"Emotional reasoning is a cognitive process by which a person concludes that his/her emotional reaction proves something is true, regardless of the observed evidence."

It is not good reasoning as it is not based on facts.

Emotions are entirely an electro-chemical signal to correct something that is not good for survival and/or well-being, they contain no other "information".  We can only deduce that if we feel anger, we must believe that we are being threatened and in danger. 

If we feel that a religion, let's say, is correct and therefore we think it is true, that does not make it true.  If we feel someone is trying to make us wrong, we are confusing a feeling with a thought.  It is actually a "thought" from which we have a bad feeling of some sort due to our perception of it.


If you use emotional thinking and reasoning, you will suffer from illusions thought real - these can be damaging to your psychological health.  The symptoms:  believe somehow a primitive mechanism is all knowing, or a spirit within has huge wisdom, or an inanimate object (the universe) has intent and will work on our behalf if we send it a message in the right way - you'll attribute meaning to things where there is none, to your emotional detriment.  Also includes magical thinking; involves a tendency to have to explain the unexplainable and then believing in the truth of it.

Use at your own peril.  You may feel euphoric at times, but it will not bring you wisdom and good decisions - in fact it will more often do the opposite.

(Agency, which is attributing intent and higher thinking to something outside of oneself, is illusory in many cases.  Read The Believing Brain.)


A:  But if "feels right."  [Wow!  A mechanical lower brain with immense reasoning power!] 

B: Oops, wrong! 

A. But I "know" I'm right.  And you can't convince me otherwise.  I just "know" it!

B. Sorry, but I hate to tell you that the feeling is just a feeling and not a good indicator of correct thinking. 

And, in most cases where things like this occur, there is an error in thinking, which can be damaging or cause you to miss out on something good. 

AND THE GOOD SIDE OF IT IS... (the 'butt-saving' phenomenon...)

Now don't get me wrong here.  I embrace our wonderfully protective primitive brain and what it remembers that works.  It works to cooperate with your tribe so that you won't be kicked out and not survive.  It works to be suspicious of other tribes first, and to develop "sixth sense" noticing of what subtle things will tell us whether to trust or not.  We are full of rules, in a sense, in our instincts and in our training, that protect us, but some of the rules are not examined and don't work.  It is up to us to use this capability of the primitive brain, but to screen out the rules that actually work - that is, if we are to truly have a life that truly works, full of happiness and satisfaction.

The 'mind' (aka the lower brains) does not have immense reasoning power.  It does, however, have powerful shortcuts and a super strong memory that evolved to have us remember the characteristics of the poisonous berry bush, etc., and to categorize what could be a threat.  If something was connected to danger, it remembers - and it has evolved to "motivate" us to act to avoid those dangers (with chemicals and electrical charges).  It will remember well, though not perfectly, what appeared to be dangerous to us and then assign danger to anything that can be associated with it - and it evolved to overassociate, as that was the characteristic gene property of those who survived. 

You must understand Evolution, as it was not an 'intentional' thing.  It was just a statistical, physical world thing, where it was a form of what might be crudely called 'backward engineering.' - characteristics in genes that caused survival long enough to procreate survived!

One needs to understand this reality and that the mind is just a machine, with no mysterious force commanding us or no force having the "agency" to choose to have "intent" - it is just mechanical.  That's the bad news for some people, in their minds, but it is good news for us humans, as it works wonderfully - just not for good reasoning!!!]  However, the higher brain is such an evolved machine that it can fabricate meaning and create higher things like "intent" - but make no mistake those abilities do not exist in the lower brains! 

Anyway, the bottom line here is that the primitive brain will support its conclusions by having you "feel right" about them - i.e. get a dose of happy chemicals.  And from that, if you don't engage your higher brain, you will conclude that you must, therefore, be right.  (A really, really dumb conclusion - if you think about it!)  [Remember, if this discussion pisses you off, then you are stuck in emotional reasoning.]


We make up "values" and that they have value toward us surviving and for us feeling better off.

And, of course, we feel strongly about our values - whether we are critical thinkers or not!   When we feel emotional about them that is, generally,  "good" as it drives us toward what will have us live a better life - unless the "value" is not an appropriate one for a good life.  (So, you must select them well - spend the time doing it - see  Values.  This is part of the Wisdom Process.)

We, of course, create a "values" system around what we believe in and then we believe we are right and that we have a corner on validity, even though others feel just as certain of conflicting beliefs.  We fail to note that our beliefs are only beliefs, something we made up about something.  It is up to us, of course, to sort through what we believe to see what fits with truth/reality/whatworks, so that we are not operating off of poor beliefs, as poor beliefs get us doing what doesn't work well in life.  (See, what I now think is critical to understanding ourselves and how to not make certain mistakes over and over, The Believing Brain.)


If those belief/values are contradicted , then our primitive brain associates that with a threat to our values and accordingly a threat to survival. Of course, with our higher brain we can decide, fairly easily, that it is not an actual threat.  If we fail to engage the higher brain, then we are "forced to", in a sense, feel fear of a certain type - and to engage in fight or flight.  You want to fight and argue, your chemicals are boiling, or you want to get the heck out of there, after all it feels so unpleasant - and then the primitive brain might create a "disliking" for the other person, which is what it does to protect you from enemies.  All this is going on despite the fact that the other person may be a good person whom you actually like (or did, before he/she pissed you off!).

Remember beliefs are about how the world works, and in the primitive world we had to have lots of beliefs that overdid it to assure our survival - indicating many of them are wrong, but the brain has to overdo it to stave off all possible threats, until it actually is able to see that they aren't really threats. 

And realize that  a system was built to get us to adhere to those beliefs (called emotions).  And emotions can feel compelling, they can feel very bad - even if nothing bad is really happening.  Primitive is primitive - and until we apply higher thinking to it, we will be stuck in the same primitive mode, getting upset where there is no truly valid reason to be upset!!!

Notice that if we never apply higher thinking, we will stay stuck in believing our emotional reasoning is valid. 

And that's not good!!!!


When we feel a sense of disgust or outrage, it is because we believe there is a threat, where someone or something disagrees with your belief (or doesn't follow it or does the opposite, etc.).  The emotion drives you toward survival - in the primitive world.  It worked in that world to "keep us in line" and to avoid threats, especially enemies or anything that would get us kicked out of the tribe, probably to die.

But notice that we are not living in the primitive world nor dealing with the threats our ancestors had to handle and naturally evolved to do. 

These two emotions are just emotions.  They do not necessarily mean something is right or wrong - only that there seems to be a possibility of a threat, with the brain first jumping to the conclusion that it is a threat, until more thought or fact gathering can be engaged in.  That "fast thinking" saved us from tigers, as it got us moving quicker than the slow thinkers, who were eaten and dropped out of the evolutionary survival.  However, reasoning takes more time but it gets us immense results.  

Know that all the major thought disciplines teach that thoughts are just thoughts and that feelings are just feelings.  They are just "neuronal patterns fired off in the brain", with an effect of "physical sensations" (feelings).  They are no more than that.  They are not "signs" that one is right or signals from the supernatural.

They are just physical effects caused mechanically.

Of course, with our higher brain we can discriminate and call off the emergency warning when we see there is no real danger.  But until we at least ask Byron Katie's "Is it true?" and then "Is it absolutely, verifiably true without any possible doubt?", we cannot arrive at a valid conclusion - but the point is that we have the ability to discern truth or "not-truth" or "no proof" and, if we use that ability we can make better decisions and have better beliefs so that our lives work better - otherwise, we are stuck in emotional reasoning, operating at a very primitive level. 


If we do "emotional reasoning", then we end up with all sorts of attachment to things that cause us problems.

If we stop believing in illusions and unexamined beliefs, we will live a much better life - and we'll not be 'victims' of life at all - in fact, we would have virtually no suffering.  We would be wise enough to see that virtually all physical happenings are neutral in themselves - and that it is only our added meaning that can create the unnecessary, self-caused suffering the Buddha talks of.  

We create this suffering from "emotional reasoning".  

[I sometimes chuckle in bemusement when I use that term - as it could just as well be "electrochemical impulses reasoning" or "old pattern worked before, me know it work again" (best said with an accent of some sort).]


We "think" someone will save us, so we continue operating as a victim.  (If we look, as an adult, we should be able to see that we are not really thinking, but are just coughing up old neuronal patterns created by the primitive brain seeing and reacting to an associated potential threat.

We "think" we see monsters in the closet (or at least the adult equivalent of scary illusions).  [Note that Buddhism is not calling us a bunch of lunatics when it says we are caught up in our illusions.  An illusion is something we think is real but isn't.  It is not real that there is a threat to our actual worth if we are not approved of or liked.  We made that up, plus we made up lots of 'threats' that are not really threats at all, not in the real world.   We have even made up that a thought has, in and of itself, power.  We have even made up that some mysterious force(s) is controlling us - from the "dark shadow" to "spirit" and even attributing huge non-existent powers to the subconscious or other "beings".  We even suffer from imaginary threats in our minds, called mental constructs, that have no reality - we "fail" on something that doesn't exist.  (Now is that illusionary or is that illusionary?) 

[Landmark Education attempts to address this and have us not believe in things that we made up but think are real.  We've got to be smart enough to know that what we fabricate only in our brain is in fact fabricated, non-existent in the real world, and nothing to be concerned about in and of themselves.  We catch ourselve in one of Shakespeare's plays, doing Much Ado About Nothing.  At some point, we'll see that, hopefully, and then all the ghosts and goblins and illusions will be seen as no longer real, just like in the movie A Beautiful Mind.)

And the Class I illusion to take the cake is the "I just know I'm right, as my emotions tell me so", for which there is no sound basis, other than it is right some of the time but definitely not accurate.


Often there are no proven facts or even premises offered.  At times, they use the "let's prove our case, quick!" where they say it must be true because they saw it happen once, or when they get better at it, they will offer selective evidence which does not meet rigorous questioning - disagreement or disputation with facts will frequently enrage the person or at least "piss them off".
It "shouldn't be".  (Why?  'Cause'! 
That person "shouldn't do that."


As discussed in the piece The Believing Brain,  we will also buy into the "illusion of truth", where if something we agree with, though only a "sound bite" (it has to be simple), is repeated 3 to 5 times we believe it is a fact.  This not a character defect, but it is a very human trait, where we try to conserve energy as an evolutionary inherited way of surviving better (saving our energy for other things).  Basicly, it is "lazy thinking" 

Lazy thinking is not actually a moral problem, per se, but it can, when it counts, produce undesirable results for the lazy, or non-thinking, individual. 

We also accept what fits "effortlessly into existing schemata", where it agrees with what we believe and it helps justify or explain our point of view or position.  

This is natural, but it definitely is not wisdom or what works best in life.  Of course, most of it is harmless and we can let it pass (except for the bad habit) if it is about something that is minor and non-affective. 

Every political campaign waged in the United States is a battle of illusions of truth.  And if we do not discriminate intellectually, we become part of the problem and not the solution.  See Coming To The Middle, On Either Side - Part of the solution or part of the problem? 

But I've thrown out the idea that I could have any impact on the election and I've chosen to conserve my energy (see Cutting Out Politics), yet I still have to stop myself (gradually learning) from reacting to people speaking "sound bites" as if they are the truth and making totally unfounded comments, often evilizing others who are not evil at all, with most of what is said about them being just political Blarney.  I must just accept reality, resist my evolutionary tendency, and not be concerned about the effects which will be whatever they'll be and I can't do a thing about it.  And Being Right is not a worthy objective at all!


Unwarranted conclusions (some almost beyond belief if in a normal state).
Emotional upset, outrage, disgust, etc.
Hostility to the "other side", believing they are evil.


While alot of this doesn't matter because of the issue, what does matter in this society and certainly in a relationships where we don't want to be blindsided by nonsense is that we and others use good sound thinking.  Yes, we may be a small part of the world, but our influence can make a bit of difference.  We can influence others to live better lives by encouraging them to do better, more sound thinking and reasoning so that they make better decisions. 

What is at issue here is wisdom, the opposite of which is emotional reasoning.  If I can influence a few people to use the Wisdom Process and the learning necessary to attain wisdom, then I will have done something that will have them living a better and a happier life.