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Why do we think or behave the way we do?

  • Why do we do things which we know are not good for us?

  • Yet, why is it so much easier to tell others what the right thing to do is, and be disappointed when they don't do it? For example, why are there so many doctors who don't take medication, smoke, or end up obese?

  • Ever known someone who 

  • Why do doctor Shaking a hand can be the firmest display of trust and cooperation, or it could also be the beginning of the deepest betrayal.

  • The most incredibly selfish person at work who is a conniving backstabbing colleague could also be the person who donates almost all his income to charity.
    One can be very kind to stray dogs, yet be very unkind to stray cats.
    One can be committed to a New Year’s resolution, only to break it the very next day. And yet still
    Doctors who know of their own health dont take medcation, or smoke or end up obese.
    Divorce lawyers believing they will never get divorced.
    We say something we were so sure of at that moment and then regret it massively – why did we ever say something like that?
    The blood pressure of 2 chessmasters locked in battle
    Why do we use “locked in battle”, and why do we name teams vikings, tigers, lions, bears. We might claim we dont like violence, but do we cheer for superheroes at the mvoies when they beat the villains? Will we cheer our own soldiers when they win the war?

  • An act of violence can be a physical exertion, or it could be as simple as pushing a button or pulling a trigger, or it could be a carefully chosen word to hurt, or it could simply be deciding to look away and not notice what is happening.

Human thought and behaviour is really complex, as you will soon see. Naturally, the answer is also not simple; it is not an equation but more like a jigsaw puzzle, coming in different connecting pieces. 

The value of this chapter doesn't come in just the information on each piece of the puzzle, but also the frame to think about how all these pieces come together to give us the answer. So we do have to w



Why did the chicken cross the road?

Believe it or not, the problem is not that we don't have a legitimate answer. The problem is that we have too many answers that are legitimate:

  • Geneticists would claim that there is "a gene" in chickens that cause them to cross a road when they see one

  • Endocrinologists would claim that there is a particular hormone that causes the road-crossing behaviour

  • Evolutionary psychologists would claim that over the years, chickens that cross the road were more likely to survive and reproduce. And in turn, their offspring also learnt to cross the road. 

  • Sociologists would claim that one day, an influential chicken crossed the road, and everyone followed, and this became a social norm. 

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Seconds to minutes before;

It’s easy to see how the sight of a knife, the sound of a voice calling your name, a touch on your hand can rapidly alter your brain. 5 But crucially, tons of subliminal sensory triggers occur—so fleeting or minimal that we don’t consciously note them, or of a type that, even if noted, seems irrelevant to a subsequent behavior. Subliminal cuing and unconscious priming influence numerous behaviors unrelated to this book. People think potato chips taste better when hearing crunching sounds. We like a neutral stimulus more if, just before seeing it, a picture of a smiling face is flashed for a twentieth of a second. The more expensive a supposed (placebo) painkiller, the more effective people report the placebo to be. Ask subjects their favorite detergent; if they’ve just read a paragraph containing the word “ocean,” they’re more likely to choose Tide—and then explain its cleaning virtues. 6 Thus, over the course of seconds sensory cues can shape your behavior unconsciously. A hugely unsettling sensory cue concerns race. 7 Our brains are incredibly attuned to skin color. Flash a face for less than a tenth of a second (one hundred milliseconds), so short a time that people aren’t even sure they’ve seen something. Have them guess the race of the pictured face, and there’s a better-than-even chance of accuracy. We may claim to judge someone by the content of their character rather than by the color of their skin. But our brains sure as hell note the color, real fast.

There is a point to the chicken story.

What causes us to think and act in the way we do? That's the million-dollar question, isn't it? If only we knew the answer. We can then examine how to change it, and make ourselves think and act better. 

But in our eagerness to find an answer, we keep falling into the trap of accepting simple answers. We keep searching for "the gene", or "the hormone", or "the evolutionary development" that cause us to behave the way we do. 




Shaking a hand can be the firmest display of trust and cooperation, or it could also be the beginning of the deepest betrayal.

The most incredibly selfish person at work who is a conniving backstabbing colleague could also be the person who donates almost all his income to charity.
One can be very kind to stray dogs, yet be very unkind to stray cats.
One can be committed to a New Year’s resolution, only to break it the very next day. And yet still
Doctors who know of their own health dont take medcation, or smoke or end up obese.
Divorce lawyers believing they will never get divorced.
We say something we were so sure of at that moment and then regret it massively – why did we ever say something like that?
The blood pressure of 2 chessmasters locked in battle
Why do we use “locked in battle”, and why do we name teams vikings, tigers, lions, bears. We might claim we dont like violence, but do we cheer for superheroes at the mvoies when they beat the villains? Will we cheer our own soldiers when they win the war?

An act of violence can be a physical exertion, or it could be as simple as pushing a button or pulling a trigger, or it could be a carefully chosen word to hurt, or it could simply be deciding to look away and not notice what is happening.
 

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