Lazy Thinking

Humans hate to think. It is work.

Did you ever wonder why someone (always someone else, not us) makes such horrible economic decisions? Or, how someone can believe something even after you show them with their own scriptures how they have pulled that something out of context and the writer never meant what this person now believes?

I live in a county that is overwhelmingly Trump country. A local farmer with previously impeccable Republican credentials has been attacking Trump’s policies that hurt the pocketbooks of farmers. The other farmers? They attack the person pointing out the emperor wears no clothes. We don’t vote economics. We don’t vote rationally. We vote emotionally. Well, most of us.

I wonder about such things, of course.

So I study. Today’s lesson comes from Nobel Prize winner for economics, the psychologist and researcher Daniel Kahneman. His book making the ideas understandable, Thinking Fast and Slow.

We humans have what researchers called two “systems.” System 1 makes impulse decisions based on previous experiences or perceptions. It thinks fast.

System 2 is our rational thought. This is the slow part. But…rational thought means work. System 2 is lazy. It doesn’t like to work. It will only work when forced to.

The author Rex Stout invented a detective called Nero Wolf. Wolf had an assistant called Archie Goodwin. They would take on a case to solve a murder mystery for a client. Things would get bad. They had too many suspects, not enough evidence. Goodwin would yell at the boss, “C’mon genius. You’re going to have to think. It’s time to go to work. I know you hate to work, but now we really need it.”

Stout obviously knew the good and bad of System 2.

Sometimes the impulse decision part of us works in our best interest. Sometimes it would be better for us to go to work and actually think.

What do you need to think about today? Better grab a cup of coffee and sit down with a pen and paper and go to work.

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