Looking back to a simpler time? That’s ‘consistency bias’!

This clip from Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris” discusses what is commonly known as the “Golden Age Fallacy”. This involves people being nostalgic for days when the world was less violent, when children could play freely (and alone) in the local park and when life was generally more simple. It makes two main assumptions a. That we stay the same and our attitudes and beliefs are constant throughout our lives and b. Conveniently omits to remember or reflect on all that was bad at the time being recalled. Similarly these “Halycon days” usually coincide with youth when our lives were demonstrably simpler through lack of responsibility and a reliance on our wider family to provide for and support us.

“… how desperate we are to see ourselves as the still, calm centre of the universe – fixed lenses, observing a rapidly changing world, but not changing ourselves.” Not true says Oliver Burkeman in The Guardian this weekend. He discusses a US TV producer’s wish to set a programme in the 1980s when life was so much simpler; when the internet had not corrupted and distracted the youth and erased distance. Back in a time when you experienced depth with your immediate family and friends in a local neighbourhood and weren’t perpetually distracted by internet media, vines, memes and messages.

Burkeman argues that this is fallacious thinking. It assumes that the world changes (gets worse) and we stay the same. It claims that our own formative experiences (normally around the age of 8 yrs old) are halcyon days from which it all goes down hill. This is consistency bias. The article discusses this all and relates it to cultural output and narcissism. The author claims the article will change your life – I am not sure about that, but give it a try and comment below.

Read the article here

More on consistency bias

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