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How Access to Instant Information Plays to Our Bad Side

The omnipresence of instantaneous technology has made us more likely to make snap decisions and judgements, often with bad consequences. Scientists have found a solution, though. 

What’s the Latest Development?

In a rush to report the Supreme Court’s decision on the new national health care law, which will take months, if not years, to fully comprehend, both CNN and Fox News got it wrong, announcing that five justices had struck down the law when in fact the opposite was true. This kind of rapid, and incorrect, response is all too common in our age, when “e-mail, social media and the 24-hour news cycle are informational amphetamines, a cocktail of pills that we pop at an increasingly fast pace—and that lead us to make mistaken split-second decisions.” Our most immediate responses reflect our evolutionary biases, not values like fairness and temperance. 

What’s the Big Idea?

Fortunately, there is a simple remedy to the biased outcomes of quick judgements. Scientists have found that by taking conscious pauses and considering how we are likely to react to a given situation, we can overcome the negative effects of our hard-wired responses. In one experiment which tested doctors’ treatment bias against black patients, those doctors who realized what the experiment was testing for, and therefore reflected on how they would treat a black patient, made fairer prescriptions. “Although technology might change the way we react, it hasn’t changed our nature. We still have the imaginative capacity to rise above temptation and reverse the high-speed trend.”

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