top of page

Our brains prefer efficiency over absolute accuracy.
We are prone to jumping to conclusions. 

Try This!

1.     Picture in your mind a 30cm length 

2.     Picture in your mind an opera singer

3.     Recall the last time you ate out. Can you remember where you were seated, how many chairs were there at your table, and what you ate? 

Good. Now can you remember how many total tables and chairs you saw?

1. When you pictured the 30cm length, did you think of a ruler?

2. What about the opera singer? Did the image of a bearded male come into your mind.. like Pavarotti?

(Google Image "Opera Singer".... ah quite a wide variety eh?)

3. Why is it that you can remember what was at the table, but not the entire restaurant? You had with your own eyes, seen both. Some of you might immediately point out, "it's not about what you see, but what you pay attention to and what you can remember". Good. But did you notice that your brain automatically filtered out what was important and what wasn't? Did you tell your brain what to take note and remember? 


Can you remember a time when you were in a crowded room, talking to
someone. You can't really hear what other people are saying. But suddenly,
someone mentions something that sounds like your name. And you were
able to pick it up. Why?

they were able to show that the brain can rapidly enhance a voice with certain characteristics to single it out from others."







Your brain 
try this

Your brain is automatically making connections  
Michael Jordan, Dentist
Katy Perry, nuclear scientist
Do you just read the words, o do you automatically attribute meaning - not likely? We evaluate familiarity and surprise. Look at this lady's face? You immediately associate her to be angry - you dont need to think about it. I thappens automatically and constantly. We are always evalauting emotion in the world around us. 


You compute some things automatically and quickly. A and C looks alike. You don't compute some things : Same no. of blocks in 2A as in 2B. 

You are automatically compute the average length. But what is the total length? Now that's weird. How do we norally compute average? we take the sum divide by the parts. Assessments that are natural and assessments that are not natural. Fear is natural. Assessing why you are fearful is not natural and requires effort. 

the brain processes a lot fo shit. It's goal is to automate it, so that you can consciously decide on things which are new. If you had to evaluate every peice of information, you willg o crazy. The eyes import 2 billion peices of info per second. Imagie processing that!


But categorisation and selective attention comes at a price
Do you recall crowded room - party. soeone calls out your name. why? becase your brain is wired to hear things you are interested in.

Us vs them 

Hand experiment 

We get very fast answers to complicated questions - we are a machine for jumping into conclusions. 
vomit - you can't help reading the word. You have no control, you just read.
There were images and memories that came into your mind. your pupils dilated and your heart rate went up by a notch, you were more likely to sweat. These happens for everybody - they increased only slightly, it was weak, but it happens for everyone. Your facial expression changed at least  a little. You recoiled, just a little.  You are more alert and more vigilant than previously. You are now more sensitive to words like nausea, sick, smells, stink... The power of just one word - leads to not only unconscious reactions within a second or two - but a network of associative reactions., and it is coherent set of reactions. It's not accidental. Your mind works in a network. 
similarly, think of what fear has on you. It's a similar network of associative. DOUBT AND AMBIGUITY ARE reduced by the machinery of conclusion. what is needed for the acquisition of skill is feedback that is immediate and unequivocal. if feedback is delayed or ambigious, learning is retarded. Sometimes learing is not essentail (e.g. umping off a building). but skills need feedback. 


Ralph Waldo Emerson Quotes. Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.

And int he same way it starts noticing what it thinks is importatn to you. After you buy a Tesla, you start notcing more tesla cars. f you are looking for opportuntiies, you see more opportunities. Tony Hsieh.

And this extends to your whole frame of thinking. When Hery Ford build new cars - people wondered, what is wrong with the horse? we want faster horses. 

Try This!

The following lines are missing some letters. Are you able to read them? 

3.     W at  ar   you  rea in ? 

"Steve is very shy and withdrawn, invariably helpful but with very little interest in people or in the world of reality. A meek and tidy soul, he has a need for order and structure. and a passion for detail. Is Steve more likely to be a librarian or a salesperson?"

Try This!

cocktail party.jpg

Dartmouth Scar Experiment (Prof Robert Kleck, Darmouth University)

1pc Temporary Tattoo, Scar, Face Stitche
  • Participants were placed into rooms with no mirrors

  • Participants were told that a make-up artist would proceed to draw an ugly scar on their face

  • Once the scar was drawn, participants were given a short glimpse of it

  • Participants were then told to go and interact with strangers, and observe how strangers responded to them

  • Before they left the room, the make-up artist told the participants that they would apply a final coat of powder to prevent the scar from smearing. But what the artist actually did was to remove the make-up scar. 

  • Participants left the room thinking they still wore the make-up of the scar. 

  • Participants overwhelmingly reported that people were more rude and mean to them, and were staring at their scars.

What has been the 


There even though the part of our brain processing fear has largely remained the same.  Instead of sabretooth tigers, today most of us live in large societies. We fear failure because if there is a chance of failure, i is something we are weak at. Did you have some fear the first time you went on the internet or the first time you drove on the road? probably. But after 100 times, you no longer fear this because we are confident of the outcome.
We fear failure because of uncertaitny. Awfulising. It is easier and nautral for you to think of why you shoudl be fearful than why you should not be fearful.

We also fear failure because of conformity. If someone else has done it before, surely they have put thought into it. What odes it mean if i went against society or what others are doing? And conforming is not always a bad thing. we follow everyone else by brushing our teeth before and after we go to sleep. There's no need for us to re-figure out a path because this works. The problem though is that sometimes we conform even if it doesnt make sense

Video 1
Asch experiment
Miligram experiemnt 
Fear is automatic. It triggers whether we like it or not.
Fear warns us about uncertainty; you don't fear walkin down the street, but you get fearful and anxious walking in a new 

Fear of judgement. We prefer to conform even if it doesn't make sense


Asch Experiment 

Video is 1 min long

For most of human history, we didn't have all the information we needed to make the perfect decision. For one, we didn't know many things. We didn't know what was lightning, if the eclipse was the end of the world, when the drought would end, why fire is produced. for two, we didn't have an easy way to gather information without putting ourselves in harm: what causes certain diseases? Is the tribe on the other side friendly or adversarial? What happens in our brain one minute before we make a decision. 
So our brains evolved to make quick, reasonably accurate decisions that actively avoid complete catastrophe, based on the limited information we have. 

(pay more for insurance against terrorist act than overal insurance which includes acts of terror - under heuristics.) Acts of terror carry a higher salience which makes us think that needs the most attention. 

bottom of page