But what about evidence?

What about data?

What about expert opinion?

This is Part 5 of the 7 Unpopular Beliefs Series.

Trust Your Gut!

Expert Advice

The idea here is that you’re believing in someone else’s abilities to understand your situation better than you. Sometimes that’s really helpful.

In that case, you’d be following your gut to go with someone else’s.


If you’ve done this a million times before, you’ve probably developed what psychologist Gerd Gigerenzer refers to as a heuristic based gut feeling.

The idea is that even if you can’t consciously articulate your situation, your brain has seen this so many times that it’s actually making you feel what’s different this time.

It’s called a heuristic. We use these all the time.

Can you read this?

I cnduo’t bvleiee taht I culod aulaclty uesdtannrd waht I was rdnaieg. Unisg the icndeblire pweor of the hmuan mnid, aocdcrnig to rseecrah at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno’t mttaer in waht oderr the lterets in a wrod are, the olny irpoamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rhgit pclae.

That’s a really basic heuristic. Your brain is just making it happen for you.

If you’ve done something enough times, Gigerenzer estimates that 80% of the time, your gut is accurate. That is a really, really good chance.

Avoid Regret

Ultimately, a major motivator for people is avoiding regret. We don’t want to get to our death beds and struggle with something we should or shouldn’t have done.

If you didn’t follow your gut, you have a much higher likelihood of regretting your decision.

If the expert was wrong, you can blame the expert. How were you supposed to know? You’re not the expert.

If you had a gut feeling and you ignored it . . . good luck getting rid of that regret.

If your wrong and went with your gut, well, you were just wrong. But at least you didn’t know the answer and pick something else.

*Disclaimer for High-Stakes Decisions*

Remember the consequences of your decision in high-stakes situations.

Here’s an example of a flawed gut feeling:

In 1999 NYPD fatally shot Amadou Diallo in New York City. Police fired when they thought the young Guinean man was reaching for a weapon, but he was actually unarmed and digging in his pocket for his identification.

What happened? Social conditioning creates non-conscious beliefs. These beliefs are hard to identify because they’re non-conscious. You’re not aware you have them. This is the basis for racism, classism, sexism and a ton of other “isms.”

It’s these non-conscious beliefs that produce the first impressions that can trigger flawed decisions.

2 Minute Action

Here are a few things that only take 2 minutes to do:

  • Is there someone in your life who just drains the energy out of you? That’s a gut feeling. Cut it off.
  • Make a subtle gesture of gratitude or kindness to someone you otherwise might not. This helps those around you feel safe and more like themselves. Others are less likely to make rash decisions or judgments when they feel like we’re all on the same team.
  • Phone a friend. If you have a high-stakes decision to make, call 3 experts.
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