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We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

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Explanation Freeze: Sometimes You Need to Outhink Your Lazy Brain

October 17, 2013, 4:46 PM

Your brain is lazy.  Don’t take it personally, my brain’s also lazy.  Everyone’s brain is lazy.  It’s how the human brain is built.  We’re what scientists call cognitive misers.  And this is a good thing. 

Essentially if you look back at the evolution of the human brain we had to be just intelligent enough, just good enough at making decisions to survive and spread our genes to the next generation – but no better.  So you wouldn’t expect the human brain to be a perfect reasoner or a perfect decision maker.  You would expect it to be good enough most of the time.  And that’s what we are.

So one way that manifests itself is when something happens we reach for the first explanation that occurs to us and we generally stop there.  And most of the time that’s good enough. 

But if you want to improve on what evolution has given you, especially in cases where maybe the stakes are higher, you can push past your cognitive miserliness and push past your explanation freeze and look for other explanations, some of which might be better than the first one you thought of.  

In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock



Explanation Freeze: Sometim...

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