Well, think of this. Have you ever played in a chess game where you made a move and only later realized what a smart move it was but not admit it? You were just lucky but you've got a great rationalization for it later. I think that phenomenon is actually ubiquitous. A great deal of the very well-designed behavior that we engage in, we only think we understand, we only think we have to understand. We, in fact, have only a very limited understanding of it and don't need to have the understanding that tradition would say we have.
Thinking, Fast and Slow was a global bestseller, and had a profound impact on psychology and economics, as these tributes from other leading figures show.
Steven Pinker is a psychology professor at Harvard University. He is frequently named one of the world's top intellectuals and has twice been a finalist for the Pulitzer prize.
I've called Daniel Kahneman the world's most influential living psychologist and I believe that is true. He pretty much created the field of behavioural economics and has revolutionised large parts of cognitive psychology and social psychology. His central message could not be more important, namely, that human reason left to its own devices is apt to engage in a number of fallacies and systematic errors, so if we want to make better decisions in our personal lives and as a society, we ought to be aware of these biases and seek workarounds. That's a powerful and important discovery.
What is strange or impossible about this particular encyclopedia is not the propinquity of the things listed, but the site on which their propinquity would be possible; that system which organizes the elements yet which itself is not part of the grid. Where could animals that are “frenzied,” “innumerable,” and “drawn with a very fine camelhair brush” ever meet, except in “the immaterial sound of the voice pronouncing their enumeration, or on the page transcribing it? Where else could they by juxtaposed except in the non-place of language?”
Communing with a higher power increases self-control
Though we can all agree that to do so requires self-control, the authors propose that the source of such control might not be supernatural. Instead, it might come from something more earthly. Something accessible to even the most devoted atheist: social connection.
"One should not think of analogy-making as a special variety of reasoning (as in the dull and uninspiring phrase “analogical reasoning and problem-solving,” a long-standing cliché in the cognitive-science world), for that is to do analogy a terrible disservice. After all, reasoning and problem-solving have (at least I dearly hope!) been at long last recognized as lying far indeed from the core of human thought. If analogy were merely a special variety of something that in itself lies way out on the peripheries, then it would be but an itty-bitty blip in the broad blue sky of cognition. To me, however, analogy is anything but a bitty blip — rather, it’s the very blue that fills the whole sky of cognition — analogy is everything, or very nearly so, in my view."
Now, these are cute errors, and we can use them to do psychology studies on social exclusion, and we can learn quite a bit. In fact, it's kind of funny that you would kick a vending machine or that you would yell at your Windows machine when it gives you the blue screen of death, but they're increasingly failing to be that cute, because the more complex society gets, it turns out that these intuitions are some of the only intuitions we have to make sense of a social world that's quite different from the world in which we evolved. We've known this for quite some time.
hat experimental philosophers tend to do is to go after questions that are traditionally associated with philosophy but to go after them using the methods that have been traditionally associated with psychology
A fascinating paper in the neuroscience journal Brain looks at artistic depictions of phantom limbs – the feeling of the physical presence of a limb after it has been damaged or removed – and gives a wonderful insight how the brain perceives...
R. K. Troughton interviews Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) Grand Master Ursula K. Le Guin.
ASM: Science fiction started as a genre of hard science. You started publishing during a transitional phase for the industry, when many authors were exploring a broader spectrum of ideas. You focused more on sciences like anthropology, psychology, and sociology rather than chemistry, astronomy, and physics. While realism explores some of the subject matters you were writing about, you created fantastic elements to serve as your tapestry. What makes speculative fiction the perfect canvas for your imagination?
UKL: I didn’t just arrive during a transition—I was one of the writers who started it. We moved SF away from being fixated on the “hard” sciences, but that’s only part of it. SF was a white-male-dominated field of adventure stories of an intellectual or imaginative kind, sometimes brilliantly conceived, often badly written. We raised the standards and made it into the complex, inclusive, prejudice-challenging, ever-changing kind of literature it is at its best today.
I can’t tell you why most of my fiction is imaginative rather than realistic; it’s just the way my mind works. Physics tell us us how the universe works, and that’s grand, but also we’re human, and the the social sciences are a goldmine of ideas for any writer interested in how being human works.
The more we learn about reality, the less we understand it. Our special collection of articles explores how we define reality, what it could be and whether it exists
But what is reality? The more we probe it, the harder it becomes to comprehend. In the eight articles on this page we take a tour of our fundamental understanding of the world around us, starting with an attempt to define reality and ending with the idea that whatever reality is, it isn’t what it seems.
A recent project by designer Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg proposes that bioengineered creatures be released into the wild to save endangered species and clean up pollution.
Her new project, called Designing for the Sixth Extinction, is intended to spark debate about how artificial animals could be used to solve environmental problems. She suggests we should go about "rewilding" in order to "preserve or maintain a state of nature using synthetic organisms that are designed to save other species."
Squaring recent research suggesting we're "naturally moral" with all the strife in the world.
In 1999, Joshua Greene—then a philosophy graduate student at Princeton, now a psychology professor at Harvard—had a very fertile idea. He took a pretty well-known philosophical thought experiment and infused it with technology in a way that turned it into a very well-known philosophical thought experiment—easily the best-known, most-pondered such mental exercise of our time. In the process, he raised doubts, in inescapably vivid form, about the rationality of human moral judgment.
The thought experiment—called the trolley problem—has over the past few years gotten enough attention to be approaching “needs no introduction” status. But it’s not quite there, so: An out-of-control trolley is headed for five people who will surely die unless you pull a lever that diverts it onto a track where it will instead kill one person. Would you—should you—pull the lever?