Dan Ariely, a professor of behavioral economics at Duke University, presents examples of cognitive illusions that help illustrate why humans make predictably irrational decisions.
When I started hearing about research showing increased irrationality under stress, I thought of how people are often desperate when they finally go to a homeopath in hopes of a cure after being un-helped by other medical professionals. Perhaps this phenomenon, of the suspension of critical thinking induced by extreme stress, at least partly explains the widespread belief in homeopathy even among professionals in my field. Belief is a major component of placebo effect. This new research sheds light on how people come to believe things that are scientifically unsubstantiated.