3 Ways to Start Making America Great Again

It's not by burning people's pictures and wearing the flag as a cape, but by understanding ourselves better, and understanding the person beside you.

Three Ways America Can Be United Again - Through Decision-Making

3 Ways We Can Make America Great Again – Through Decision Making

Looks Like We're Making America Great Again. Here Are 3 Ways to Contribute.

 

 


On January 20, 2017 Donald J. Trump will be sworn in as the President of the United States. All of us, whether we voted for him or not, have to do our part to “Make America Great Again.” Here are three ways we can do that, which starts with understanding how we got here.

The first way is by understanding bounded rationality. Bounded rationality is the idea that decisions are limited by the information and cognitive ability of the decision maker – or “making the best possible call in light of the available information,” as Reuters explains. Basically, people have a hard time making good decisions because they only see the problem in the present. All the media hype about the 2016 presidential election being the worst ever? It’s a perspective that ignores our nation’s history of bad elections. Nobel Prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman explains it this way:

People tend to frame things very narrowly... They look at the problem at hand and they deal with it as if it were the only problem. Very frequently it’s a better idea to look at problems as they will recur throughout your life and then look at the... class of problems.

The second way is by understanding heuristic reasoning. Heuristic reasoning is decision-making based on experience rather than factors, and “relies on simplistic, often patently invalid rules of thumb to form electoral attitudes and decisions,” reports Reuters. In short, heuristic reasoning is a shortcut. It’s making a gut decision instead of engaging in “deep thinking and the analyzing of facts and figures,” as this definition puts it. With this election, voters were overwhelmed by messages exploiting their fears of what the other candidate would do to their country, overriding deep critical thinking and prompting experiential, gut responses. That’s not necessarily a bad thing; our intuition emerges from our gut, and it has merit. But heuristic reasoning runs the risk of not seeing or understanding the full consequences of a decision. Professor Glenn Cohen of Harvard explained it to us here:

The third way is by understanding accessibility dynamics. Accessibility dynamics involve how we recall information. According to this 1994 study, the act of remembering something prompts us to forget older, more complex information. In short, accessibility dynamics tends to “give priority to “top of the head” ideas while disregarding long-known, potentially superior, information,” according to Reuters, which goes on to say: “unfortunately, accessibility is driven by frequency of or recent exposure to ideas, rather than their value or coherence. Its actual impact, therefore, can undermine or bias decisions.” Basically, whatever information your memory can easily access determines your decision -- not facts or instinct. In the case of the 2016 election, the information most accessible to voters was rooted in personal attacks and slander instead of campaign issues or policies. Cyberpsychologist Mary Aiken broke it all down for us:

Why are bounded rationality, heuristic reasoning, and accessibility dynamics so important? Because they’re all our brain can handle in decision making. “At any given moment, attitudes and opinions are based on a subset of information available in our memory,” Reuters explains. The information in our memory determines the decisions we make. The more we remember, the better our decisions tend to be. In the case of this election, with its increasing amounts of scandal and ceaseless amounts of mudslinging, our ability to remember anything beyond the past spectacle was impeded. That’s unfortunate -- but we can fix it. We can correct memory overwhelm by employing ideas to improve our recall. Psychologist Maria Konnikova explains one used by Sherlock Holmes -- and its modern Google-friendly equivalent -- here:

You can also improve your memory by monotasking, as we’ve mentioned before, and getting a good night’s sleep. A 2008 Harvard study showed that, “people are 33 percent more likely to infer connections among distantly related ideas [ie - remember things] after sleeping.” You can even learn a new skill to create neural pathways in your brain to improve your memory, as this 2007 Columbia University study discovered. And, as we’ve just learned, improving your memory improves your ability to make decisions, without being overwhelmed by political propaganda.

Understand biases in yourself will help you to understand others, and that is absolutely the first step towards healing what has been a divisive 18 months in the US. Now that we know how we got here, we have an idea of how to move forward. Let’s make it happen, America.

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

Space toilets: How astronauts boldly go where few have gone before

A NASA astronomer explains how astronauts dispose of their, uh, dark matter.

Videos
  • When nature calls in micro-gravity, astronauts must answer. Space agencies have developed suction-based toilets – with a camera built in to ensure all the waste is contained before "flushing".
  • Yes, there have been floaters in space. The early days of space exploration were a learning curve!
  • Amazingly, you don't need gravity to digest food. Peristalsis, the process by which your throat and intestines squeeze themselves, actually moves food and water through your digestive system without gravity at all.
Keep reading Show less

Carl Sagan on why he liked smoking marijuana

Carl Sagan liked to smoke weed. His essay on why is fascinating.

Photo: Photo by Robert Nelson on Unsplash / Big Think
Mind & Brain
  • Carl Sagan was a life long marijuana user and closeted advocate of legalization.
  • He once wrote an anonymous essay on the effects it had on his life and why he felt it should be legalized.
  • His insights will be vital as many societies begin to legalize marijuana.
Keep reading Show less

Can the keto diet help treat depression? Here’s what the science says so far

A growing body of research shows promising signs that the keto diet might be able to improve mental health.

Photo: Public Domain
Mind & Brain
  • The keto diet is known to be an effective tool for weight loss, however its effects on mental health remain largely unclear.
  • Recent studies suggests that the keto diet might be an effective tool for treating depression, and clearing up so-called "brain fog," though scientists caution more research is necessary before it can be recommended as a treatment.
  • Any experiments with the keto diet are best done in conjunction with a doctor, considering some people face problems when transitioning to the low-carb diet.
Keep reading Show less