Last night my friend dreamt that he was parked in his car, and an old man--furious and strange--snuck up and banged so manically on the window that he woke my friend up.


Wild, really: My friend scared himself awake.  His unconscious built an image so surprising that it jolted the rest of him from sleep.


It's amazing to know that our minds are this compartmentalized.  For stretches of time, we can feel like lucid people operating by way of fully known intentions.  But at the same time, the brain can have unspoken distractions.  A side of the brain can go dormant, or can shock another side out of sleep.


We've had some big, public examples of the deluded or "split" human mind lately.  Of course there's Bernie Madoff, who must have intermittently allowed himself to buy some of his own lies.  Then there are all of us who invested in false optimism when we took cheap mortgages or banked on the continual rise of the stock market.  The rational brain went slightly dormant.  In order to dream a delicious dream, we allowed a critical side of ourselves to sleep.


With the economic crash and other sorts of bad news these days, we're starting to wake up (for a bit).  In turn, there are a bunch of books out there that are trying to explain just how and why people delude themselves so completely.  These books try to detail all the mental tricks that allow us to enjoy false optimism, idealize love, underrate our own shortcomings, confirm (rather than test) our beliefs, alter memories to suit assumptions, etc. etc..  At the end of this blog I include a list of some of these titles. 


These books use psychology to name what sort of games our minds play to change perception to suit beliefs.  In one, clinical psychologist Van Hecke names 10 mental mistakes that delude us most frequently, including "not stopping to think," "jumping to conclusions" and "missing the big picture."  Those are broad labels of delusion--but she picks out more specific, everyday examples to tell us how we each do a bit of each.


Business professor Thomas Kida identifies six more specific mental lies, including the ways we underestimate the role of chance in big events, the fact that we tend to oversimplify in our thinking, and the fact that our memories are always at least a bit warped.  Kida's book tries to get us to correct for some of these tendencies.


But perhaps it will never be our job to live "objectively."  Maybe our minds are like shock absorbers: organs designed not just for survival, but to make the world feel comfy, like a bed fit for dreaming in.  I wonder if you've got ideas about how we misperceive reality to suit our sense of comfort.


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Sway: The Irresistable Pull of the Irrational  (Ori Brafman and Rom Brafman)


Don't Believe Everything You Think: The 6 Basic Mistakes We Make in Thinking (Thomas E. Kida)


Why We Make Mistakes: How We Look Without Seeing, Forget Things in Seconds, and Are All Pretty Sure We Are Way Above Average (Joseph T. Hallinan)


Blunder: Why Smart People Make Bad Decisions (Zachary Shore)


Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions (Dan Ariely)


The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives (Leonard Mlodinow)


On Being Certain: Believing You Are Right Even When You're Not (Robert Burton)


Blind Spots: Why Smart People Do Dumb Things (Madeleine L. Van Hecke)

Message Edited by IlanaSimons on 07-09-2009 02:57 PM
0 Kudos
by steve123456789 on ‎07-09-2009 03:22 PM
very interesting
by on ‎07-10-2009 03:04 AM


Blind Spots: Why Smart People Do Dumb Things (Madeleine L. Van Hecke)


That's a good one.

by Blogger IlanaSimons on ‎07-10-2009 07:33 AM


Have you read it?

by on ‎07-10-2009 08:23 PM
Yes, a year or so ago. I was trying to understand a former friend of mine and had it recomended.
by Blogger IlanaSimons on ‎07-11-2009 08:06 AM
What's one memorable dumb thing smart people do?  I haven't read it.
by on ‎07-11-2009 08:30 PM
What's one memorable dumb thing smart people do?  I haven't read it.

Very interesting

by on ‎07-11-2009 10:39 PM
Hmm well it's been a while, but what I remeber the most was the the section on self delusion.
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