Walnuts Do Not Belong in Cookies.

May 27, 2017


We doomed this drupe to a false identity as a nut. Although its family photo should feature the apricot and olive, we instead see it posed with hazelnuts. The walnut lives misunderstood, perceived by the masses as a nut. Even more damaging for walnuts, is that someone decided to start putting them in chocolate chip cookies. The cruelest culinary moments in my life were those when I bit into a seemingly innocent and delicious cookie, only to find it bastardized by walnuts. Everybody knows that walnuts ruin this otherwise delectable treat, right? Wrong. There are people who enjoy walnuts in cookies. What is WRONG with these people?! It doesn't make any sense. How could anyone possible enjoy walnuts invading their cookie experience?




Sometimes it's difficult to accept that others have a preference for something you despise. Although 'walnuts in cookies' is a benign issue, perhaps, it is a good example of a more prevalent and dangerous human condition: the false consensus effect.


In psychology, the false-consensus effect or false-consensus bias is an attributional type of cognitive bias whereby people tend to overestimate the extent to which their opinions, beliefs, preferences, values, and habits are normal and typical of those of others (i.e., that others also think the same way that they do).[1] This cognitive bias tends to lead to the perception of a consensus that does not exist, a "false consensus".


"I think putting walnuts in chocolate chip cookies borders on blasphemy, so everyone surely thinks so too....and if they don't, there is something wrong with them."

The false consensus effect exists in all of us; and it leads to a lot of unnecessary disharmony, and a lack of important communication.  For instance, if you were raised in a house-hold wherein the entire family contributed in chores, you'd probably naturally assume your new roommate would (should) contribute to chores. Upon waking up to a filthy apartment, you may be confused, angry, and convinced your roommate is dysfunctional. Maybe your mind monster takes you far enough down the rabbit hole for you to believe you are better than your roommate.


I got news for ya: you're just different, and you assumed you were the same.



Your roommate was probably raised in a completely different environment than you, and naturally assumed you'd be the same way as well. For all you know, your roommate's slovenly behavior was nurtured by a maid. Neither of you initiated a conversation on cleanliness, because you were way too busy assuming you would have the same values.


Apartment cleanliness is also a pretty benign issue; but the false consensus effect has deep roots in controversial topics. 


"I believe that the Christian God is the only God, and everyone who thinks otherwise is wrong."


"I believe there is no God, people who believe in God are wrong."


"It is honorable in my culture to circumcise our female children, people who don't are dishonoring their women."


"My culture views female circumcision as an atrocity, people who do this are dishonoring their women."


"I think spanking children is wrong, people who do it are monsters." 


"I think spanking is appropriate discipline, and people who don't spank their children are raising spoiled brats."


Everything always goes both ways.  If there are so many conflicting views on the same issues, what's right and what's wrong?  It's dizzying, truly.  I think the complexity of conflict drives people to subconsciously assume everyone holds the same values as they do. Conflict must be the catalyst for the false consensus effect, because most people will stop at nothing to avoid conflict.  I hate to sound like a patchouli scented life coach, but I think we'd all benefit from viewing "conflicts" as "challenges".  Instead of engaging in the conflict, challenge yourself to view differing beliefs without judgment.  Neutrally exploring other beliefs doesn't mean you have to agree with them, condone them, or support them. However, this neutrality gives you the opportunity to be exposed to conflicting views...without being conflicted.


Sometimes it's difficult to accept that others have a belief, value, or preference you despise; but it's not going to stop happening, so you may as well learn to cope.

















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Rev. Meg

"A Happy Medium"

© 2017 by The Vessel

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