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Thursday, October 20, 2011

David Brooks, "Who You Are": Players in a Game We Don't Understand

David Brooks has written another fascinating New York Times op-ed, entitled "Who You Are" (, describing the research of Daniel Kahneman and his research partner, the late Amos Tversky, which has dramatically altered the manner in which we perceive ourselves. Summarizing their conclusions, Brooks writes:

"We are players in a game we don’t understand. Most of our own thinking is below awareness. Fifty years ago, people may have assumed we are captains of our own ships, but, in fact, our behavior is often aroused by context in ways we can’t see. Our biases frequently cause us to want the wrong things. Our perceptions and memories are slippery, especially about our own mental states. Our free will is bounded. We have much less control over ourselves than we thought."

For someone like myself who is constantly blaming himself for everything that goes wrong, I suppose this is welcome news. Is it time to go easier on myself and to try to enjoy a game, which ultimately all of us lose?

Brooks continues:

"They also figured out ways to navigate around our shortcomings. Kahneman champions the idea of 'adversarial collaboration' — when studying something, work with people you disagree with."

Hmmm, work with someone with whom I disagree . . . . Fortunately I have my dear wife of almost 25 years for that.

1 comment:

  1. I am fuming.
    When Krugman announced that he would visit the OWS, I knew that he went to come back and declare that there was no antisemitism there. The way he did it is even more idiotic than I'd thought.
    This what our laureate (a useful idiot at best) says:
    "I gather that right-wingers are claiming that OWS is anti-Semitic; someone forgot to tell the excellent Klezmer band."
    I am most certainly not a right-winger. Au contraire, I am actually more progressive than him. I don't, however, listen to some Missa in the church in Norwich, England (yes, THAT Norwich) and I don't celebrate Christmas. I did however, study Jewish history and specialize in antisemitism and I resent the fact that ... someone who didn't bother to dedicate a day to studying history of his people tells me what is or isn't antisemitism and silences in a traditional way ("right-wingers").
    The guy is a bastard, an idiot, or a mental case or ... all of the above. Something is totally wrong.