Mental Shortcuts

The Kahneman‘s 2011 book, the audio version of which I have been listening to excitedly,  confirms my standpoint that if there is anything that the human brain is particularly good at, it should be the quick discovery of and immediate adherence to mental shortcuts.

The human brain is a sense-making machine. We all find it tempting to rationalize events we observe using the information available within our brain. Whenever these information, put together, forms a non-contradicting account of a given event, we feel satisfied. We cannot wait to claim to ourselves that we have made sense of the observed outcome. Sense-making is anther name of what psychologists call “mental shortcuts.”

We should admit that the human brain is fragile. Mental shortcuts give our brain a sense of security, an escape from the dreadful complexity of reality. It is so tempting to take mental shortcuts because we, the human race, are “weak”, or “not sufficiently strong.”

My first graduate seminar course is causal inference. Yet since then, I have developed an obsession and now a sympathy with David Hume, who would, nevertheless, be the most doubtful character if he sits in our seminar. I appreciate Hume because I think it is better to take the courage to admit our fragility and feeling of insecurity than to deny it.

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