Every bias in your pocket

Want to try an early version of a new mobile-friendly cognitive bias cheat sheet?


I have something exciting to share, and would love feedback on it! 😬

You are probably familiar with my Cognitive Bias Cheat Sheet that summarizes 200+ cognitive biases by grouping them into 20 or so strategies our brains use to make sense of the universe.

Once I realized that our biases are strongest when we’re arguing (or dealing with any kind of cognitive dissonance), I started down the path that led to this book about productive disagreements. But it all started here.

As I developed some of the ideas further (like head, heart, and hands), I kept coming back to the cheat sheet and thinking that something was a bit off. I finally figured out what it was a couple weeks ago, and have been revising the cheat sheet as a result.

I cleaned up a bunch of things and summarized each of the 200ish biases with a single 1-line description. As if the Conundrums were looking down on me favorably, I also discovered a very easy way to turn a spreadsheet into a beautiful mobile-friendly website (thanks, Glide!) and have already been using it myself to look up biases that I am writing about.

Here it is!

It’s not an app that you need to download in the App or Google Play stores (yet). It’s a mobile-friendly web app that you can bookmark. So you can just open this link on your phone (from Safari on iPhone if you want to do the “Add to your Home Screen” dance):


If you try it, let me know what you think by replying to this email or leaving a comment. I also haven’t done a full sweep for typos and other errors, so if you run across any I would love to know about them.

Simplified, again

The biggest change is that there are now 13 strategies instead of 20, and only 3 conundrums instead of 4. I realized that the 4th conundrum (not enough memory) had a bunch of biases that felt like they could be in other categories as well. For example, the “Google Effect” explains how we tend to not remember things that we know we can Google again later — that could also be considered a bias that helps us filter information out because the information is less important for our survival. That’s not really that far off from “Bizarreness effect” in spirit — we’re always weighing the importance of incoming information against the cost of having to pay attention to it, even before we consider trying to remember it. Anyway, long story short, I found it was very easy to fold every bias in the 4th conundrum into one of the first 3 if I just expanded the first 3 to account for noticing and remembering.

When I did that, I realized that this mapped to the same 3 arenas that I’d discovered that disagreements exist within:

🧠 WHAT: Too much information 👉 we filter a lot out 👉 what’s left is a pile of evidence and data that can be verified 👉 conflicts of the head (what is true?) happen.

❤️ WHY: Not enough meaning 👉 we connect the dots and fill in gaps 👉 they become stories to represent our values and preferences 👉 conflicts of heart (what is good?) happen.

🖐 HOW: Not enough time/resources 👉 we jump to conclusions and act on limited info and imperfect plans 👉 leading to decisions and actions 👉 conflicts of hand (what is useful?) happen.

Anyway. These are the kinds of things I get excited about.

How was your weekend?

Try this out

The Pocket Biases mobile app. Apparently you can open your phone’s camera and scan this to get taken to the app, if clicking a link isn’t cool anymore. (Made with Glide, which is a joy to use.)

The Google Spreadsheet with all of the cognitive biases that are used in the app. (Feel free to copy and use however you like.)

Feel free to forward this to a friend if you think they’d be interested in trying the app. All feedback is welcome!