I’ve been reading Michael Lewis’ The Undoing Project,
which is about the work of Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman, two Israeli psychologists who earned world renown in economics, of all things. I’m also reading Daniel Kahneman’s own book, Thinking Fast & Slow. I’m not normally inclined to read books that don’t involve history, culture, travel, or dogs, (or best of all, a combination of those things) but surprisingly, psychology allows some greater understanding of all of those things that interest me.
Thinking fast, the decisions we make intuitively, like holding on to the dog leash when thinking slow would allow you to arrive at the better decision (to let go), are explained as two separate functions of the human brain. We all do it and we all make flawed choices based on too little information. Both functions of the brain are essential to our survival. Clearly, some fast thinking results in a good outcome.
The thing that continues to astound me is how many people use the intuitive part of their brain to make decisions when they have plenty of time to gather enough information to make a more reasoned decision. That’s the lazy part of the human brain. It’s just easier to feel that something is true than it is to research and evaluate. Somehow, it feels good to reaffirm something we want to believe even if there is evidence available to us that contradicts our position.
I’m looking ahead wondering what will be gained, and what will the costs be, of having someone who relies heavily on intuition to make decisions that would benefit from more critical evaluation, in the White House. Only time will tell.