Thursday, February 23, 2017

From the playbook

A reliable way to make people believe in falsehoods is frequent repetition, because familiarity is not easily distinguished from truth. Authoritarian institutions and marketers have always known this fact. But it was psychologists who discovered that you do not have to repeat the entire statement of a fact or idea to make it appear true. People who were repeatedly exposed to the phrase “the body temperature of a chicken” were more likely to accept as true the statement that “the body temperature of a chicken is 144º” (or any other arbitrary number). The familiarity of one phrase in the statement sufficed to make the whole statement feel familiar, and therefore true. If you cannot remember the source of a statement, and have no way to relate it to other things you know, you have no option but to go with the sense of cognitive ease.— Thinking, Fast and Slow, page 62

<idle musing>
An important thing to remember in these days of "alternative facts"! By the way, the body temperature of an adult chicken is 105–107ºF according to the University of Kentucky Dept. of Agriculture. . .
</idle musing>

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

It requires effort

The nervous system consumes more glucose than most other parts of the body, and effortful mental activity appears to be especially expensive in the currency of glucose. When you are actively involved in difficult cognitive reasoning or engaged in a task that requires self-control, your blood glucose level drops. The effect is analogous to a runner who draws down glucose stored in her muscles during a sprint.— Thinking, Fast and Slow, page 43

<idle musing>
Maybe that's why some people avoid thinking as much as they avoid physical exercise?!
</idle musing>

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Don't overreach!

The often-used phrase “pay attention” is apt: you dispose of a limited budget of attention that you can allocate to activities, and if you try to go beyond that budget, you will fail. It is the mark of effortful activities that they interfere with each other, which is why it is difficult or impossible to conduct several at once. You could not compute the product of 17 x 24 while making a left turn into dense traffic, and you certainly should not try. You can do several things at once, but only if they are easy and undemanding. You are probably safe carrying on a conversation with a passenger while driving on an empty highway, and many parents have discovered, perhaps with some guilt, that they can read a story to a child while thinking of something else.— Thinking, Fast and Slow, page 23

Monday, February 20, 2017

Are you sure of that?

We are prone to overestimate how much we understand about the world and to underestimate the role of chance in events. Overconfidence is fed by the illusory certainty of hindsight.— Thinking, Fast and Slow, page 14

Friday, February 17, 2017

What about intuition?

Valid intuitions develop when experts have learned to recognize familiar elements in a new situation and to act in a manner that is appropriate to it. Good intuitive judgments come to mind with the same immediacy as “doggie!”— Thinking, Fast and Slow, page 12

&t;idle musing>
Indeed! Intuition is that subconscious flash of memory because you've prepared yourself by study and practice. Unfortunately, there is no shortcut—no matter what the person marketing the latest gimmick might tell you!
</idle musing>

Thursday, February 16, 2017

What are you thinking about?

People tend to assess the relative importance of issues by the ease with which they are retrieved from memory—and this is largely determined by the extent of coverage in the media. Frequently mentioned topics populate the mind even as others slip away from awareness. In turn, what the media choose to report corresponds to their view of what is currently on the public’s mind. It is no accident that authoritarian regimes exert substantial pressure on independent media. Because public interest is most easily aroused by dramatic events and by celebrities, media feeding frenzies are common.— Thinking, Fast and Slow, pages 8–9

<idle musing>
We're starting a new book today, Thinking, Fast and Slow. It's quite timely, as you can see, even though it has been out for a while. I hope you enjoy the ride and find it enlightening. I certainly have as I read it.
</idle musing>

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Israel as the divine image

In the book of Isaiah, corporate Israel is often compared to a statue. In some cases, she is a damaged image that must be smelted and recast (Isa 1:25; 48:4–10). At other points, her sensory organs malfunction (Isa 6:9–10)—she is described as having eyes but unable to see, and having ears but being deaf. Her restoration, likewise, is described in terms of the opening of her eyes and ears and the animation of her sensory organs: “the eyes of those who see will not be smeared over, and the ears of those who hear will be attentive. The heart/mind of the hasty will discern knowledge, and the tongue of the stammerers will hasten to speak” (Isa 32:3–4; see also Isa 35:5–6). When restored, corporate Israel is clothed with luminescent garments (Isa 62:1–3) and is said to be a crown of splendor and a royal diadem (Isa 62:3). Finally, there are several texts in Isaiah which refer to Israel as “the work of Yahweh’s hands” (Isa 29:23; 60:21; 64:7), the same phrase used in Isa 2:8, 37:19, and 41:29 to denote the divine statue who is made by human artisans. The contrast between Israel as the work of Yahweh’s hand and the divine statue as the work of human hands seems intentional.—The "Image of God" in the Garden of Eden, pages 210–11

<idle musing>
I'm convinced. Of course, I was basically of that opinion before, but this has just confirmed it.

That's the final post from this book. Tomorrow we'll start another book, but a bit different. Stay tuned. .&thinsp.
</idle musing>