Explanation Freeze: Sometimes You Need to Outthink Your Lazy Brain
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.
Julia Galef is a New York-based writer and public speaker specializing in science, rationality, and design. She serves on the board of directors of the New York City Skeptics, co-hosts their official podcast, Rationally Speaking, and co-writes the blog Rationally Speaking along with philosopher of science Massimo Pigliucci. She has moderated panel discussions at The Amazing Meeting and the Northeast Conference on Science and Skepticism, and gives frequent public lectures to organizations including the Center for Inquiry and the Secular Student Alliance. Julia received her B.A. in statistics from Columbia in 2005.
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
Progressive America would be half as big, but twice as populated as its conservative twin.
- America's two political tribes have consolidated into 'red' and 'blue' nations, with seemingly irreconcilable differences.
- Perhaps the best way to stop the infighting is to go for a divorce and give the two nations a country each
- Based on the UN's partition plan for Israel/Palestine, this proposal provides territorial contiguity and sea access to both 'red' and 'blue' America
The lawsuit claims the administration violated the First Amendment when it revoked the press credentials of reporter Jim Acosta.
- CNN reporter Jim Acosta's press credentials were revoked following a heated exchange with President Donald Trump on November 8.
- The network filed a lawsuit against the administration on Tuesday, claiming the administration has violated multiple amendments.
- The White House may only revoke the press credentials of journalists for "compelling reasons," not for reasons involving content.
The ability to speak clearly, succinctly, and powerfully is easier than you think
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.