Dan Ariely presents some ideas from Daniel Kahneman in a more accessible way. Ariely uses different optical illusions to remind us how our senses deceive us. Our senses, our intuitions are tricking us all the time. Even more curious, he shows us how we persist in our mistakes even when we become aware of them.

 

Our intuitions consistently and predictably mislead us, and there is nothing we can do about it! We are making and repeating these mistakes, yet predictable, despite the fact that our sense of vision is the result of hundreds of thousands of years of evolution. We can then imagine the difficulty we face when we have to make rational choices in areas where we are less trained and much less efficient ... 

 

Unlike some critical capabilities ―that we practice several hours per day since tens of thousands of years (e.g. finding the words to make a sentence) and are supported by specialized parts of the brain (e.g. the Broca area)―, a multitude of complex decisions we make every day (e.g. statistics decisions such as financial decisions) did appear relatively recently in history and have ―not yet― their own specialized and dedicated areas in the brain.

Dan Ariely also shows that in our daily lives when we are faced with too complex decisions (e.g. organ donation), we make the easiest choice which is most often, the one that is suggested! We are still today dangerously influenced and therefore manipulable because we did not learn to question our intuitions or to know our preferences and our real needs.

Making rational decisions is not only uneasy, but worse, we don't have any obvious means to realize our mistakes,

We understand relatively well our limitations when it comes to the physical world, and we did learn to take them into account since the earliest age, but what about our reasoning limitations?

Learning about our bias and about our real need could dramatically improve our quality of life. Being able to choose more wisely would serve both the personal and collective flourishing.

Important note: we selected the work of Dan Ariely, for the clarity of its approach towards human cognitive biases. However, some points (fundamental points when it comes to a deeper level than the topic addressed here) bother us and especially this sentence: "We are making and repeating these mistakes, yet predictable, despite the fact that our sense of vision is the result of hundreds of thousands of years of evolution." This phrase implies an erroneous interpretation of the mechanism of evolution and the visual bias. 


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