Are We Nuts or What?

Why Do We Make Dangerous Decisions?
(Like deciding climate change "isn't real")



Fiddling while the Arctic Melts


It amazes me that whole swaths of humanity ignore facts, refute the irrefutable and get all conspiracy-ish when issues arise that they don't like or that make them uncomfortable.

Two unrelated (except they were both in the NY Times) columns offered nice, tight nuggets of insight into why some of us human beans lock our mental steering wheels and drive ourselves into major crashes.




Here's an excerpt from an Op-Ed on our dismal climate fate, the author Thomas Homer-Dixon, a professor of global systems at the Balsillie School of International Affairs in Waterloo, Canada.

Climate policy is gridlocked, and there’s virtually no chance of a breakthrough. Many factors have conspired to produce this situation. Human beings are notoriously poor at responding to problems that develop incrementally. And most of us aren’t eager to change our lifestyles by sharply reducing our energy consumption.

But social scientists have identified another major reason: Climate change has become an ideologically polarizing issue. It taps into deep personal identities and causes what Dan Kahan of Yale calls “protective cognition” — we judge things in part on whether we see ourselves as rugged individualists mastering nature or as members of interconnected societies who live in harmony with the environment. Powerful special interests like the coal and oil industries have learned how to halt movement on climate policy by exploiting the fear people feel when their identities are threatened.

...And here's an excerpt from David Brooks' column on lazy minds:

Charlie Munger of Berkshire Hathaway once gave a speech called “The Psychology of Human Misjudgment.” He and others list our natural weaknesses: We have confirmation bias; we pick out evidence that supports our views. We are cognitive misers; we try to think as little as possible. We are herd thinkers and conform our perceptions to fit in with the group.

So, there you have it. Apparently, we are a little nuts.

I hope we wake up and steer a safe path through the coming catastrophe.

Art: Jonathan Twingley in the NYTimes

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