Charlie Munger cautioned students during his famous Psychology of Human Misjudgment speech not to ensnare themselves in mental chains through early commitment. Lets call these Munger’s Chains.
“This is a superpower in error-causing psychological tendency, Bias from consistency and commitment tendency, including the tendency to avoid or promptly resolve cognitive dissonance. Includes the self-confirmation tendency of all conclusions, particularly expressed conclusions, and with a special persistence for conclusions that are hard-won.
Well what I’m saying here is that the human mind is a lot like the human egg, and the human egg has a shut-off device. When one sperm gets in, it shuts down so the next one can’t get in. The human mind has a big tendency of the same sort. And here again, it doesn’t just catch ordinary mortals, it catches the deans of physics.
According to Max Planck, the really innovative, important new physics was never really accepted by the old guard. Instead, a new guard came along that was less brain-blocked by its previous conclusions. And if Max Planck’s crowd had this consistency and commitment tendency that kept their old inclusions intact in spite of disconfirming evidence, you can imagine what the crowd that you and I are part of behaves like.
And of course, if you make a public disclosure of your conclusion, you’re pounding it into your own head. Many of these students that are screaming at us, you know, they aren’t convincing us, but they’re forming mental change for themselves, because what they’re shouting out they’re pounding in. And I think educational institutions that create a climate where too much of that goes on are in a fundamental sense, they’re irresponsible institutions. It’s very important to not put your brain in chains too young by what you shout out.
And all these things like painful qualifying and initiation rituals, all those things, pound in your commitments and your ideas. The Chinese brainwashing system, which was for war prisoners, was way better than anybody else’s. They maneuvered people into making tiny little commitments and declarations, and then they’d slowly build. That worked way better than torture.”