Are Humans Rational Thinkers?
Humans are famously bad at being rational, objective, and careful thinkers.
People readily still believe that God is punishing thousands for not believing in His Son by sending them to Hell, that the constellations can predict our temperament & personalities, that ghosts are real, that our respective political views are the correct ones, and that climate change is a hoax.
We function more as personal lawyers, as Jonathan Haidt put it than as unbiased rational thinkers.
Behavioral economists, cognitive psychologists, and philosophers have long been pointing out the flaws of our natural intuition passed down from hunter-gatherers. Daniel Kahneman elaborates on this in his International Bestseller, “Thinking Fast and Slow.” We tend not to make distinctions between a good memory of an experience and a good experience in general. If you go on a hike and most of the 6 hour climb is pleasurable but towards the end you get into an argument that overwhelms your experience. In conversing about the experience, people quickly say that their “hike was ruined” because of the end. But actually, the only thing that was ruined was the ‘memory of experience.’
Similarly, if we have great friendships that have come to be less prominent, our memory of them is tarnished in ways, but really we should think fondly of them.
We are not good at thinking, remembering correctly, being objective, doing the research needed to hold views, discarding the ego in debates, on & on I can go.
We are very good at being irrational, however.
This shouldn’t lead us to despondency, but rather to slow judgment and acknowledging that often we simply don’t know.
Before you go…
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I write to keep you thinking and to keep me thankful and reflective. Cheers and until next time,