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2/07/08

4:35 PM While the website was down over the past couple of days, I began the book below, Gut Feelings, on our unconscious use of intuition. The book is highly interesting (mainly because of the subject matter itself) but I find it a bit verbose. Perhaps it’s tough to talk about such a sublime subject in a scientific capacity without getting a bit heavy on the verbiage, so I think overall the author does a good job.

Incidentally the book is all about how we use rules of thumb, mostly without realizing it. I blogged about some rules of thumb I had on my mind almost a week ago, but the meaning of the term here is slightly different.

Gut Feelings: The Intelligence of the Unconscious

Some interesting factoids I’ve learned so far (italics author’s, bolds mine):

• In one experiment people were categorized into two categories:

People who reported exhaustive search in shopping and leisure were called maximizers, because they tried hard to get the best. Those who engaged in a limited search and settled quickly with the first alternative that was satisfactory or “good enough” were called satisficers. Satisficers were reported to be more optimistic and have higher self-esteem and life satisfaction, whereas maximizers excelled in depression, perfectionism, regret, and self-blame.

Pg. 6

• There is a limit to how much information the human mind can digest, which usually corresponds to the magical number seven (plus or minus two).
Pg. 31

• Quotation from A.N. Whitehead:

“It is a profoundly erroneous truism, repeated by all copy-books and by eminent people when they are making speeches, that we could cultivate the habit of thinking of what we are doing. The precise opposite is the case. Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations which we can perform without thinking about them.”

Pg. 40

• On the importance of how we frame questions and statements:

In an experiment, a full glass of water and an empty glass are put on a table. The experimenter asks the participant to pour half of the water into the other glass, and to place the half-empty glass at the edge of the table. Which one does the participant pick? Most people chose the previously full glass. When other participants were asked to move the half-full glass, most of them chose the previously empty one. The experiment reveals that the framing of a request helps people extract surplus information concerning the dynamics or history of the situation and helps them to guess what it means. Once again, intuition is richer than logic.

Pg. 100

5:57 PM Has anyone else noticed how, in non-fiction books (including the self-help type), there’s an increasing trend of presenting comparative situations with the antagonist as male and protagonist as female? I’ve noticed it in many books (most recently the one above), that the smarter person or the person who is right over another in a given situation is female while the one that is wrong is male. All the books that I can think of where I’ve observed this were written by men.

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