Humans Don’t Use Reason for Big Decisions

“My experience with hypnosis completely changed the way I view people and how I interpret the choices they make. I no longer see reason as the driver of behavior. I see simple cause and effect, similar to the way machines operate. If you believe people use reason for the important decisions in life, you will go through life feeling confused and frustrated that others seem to have bad reasoning skills. The reality is that reason is just one of the drivers of our decisions, and often the smallest one.

[…] You’re wasting your time if you try to make someone see reason when reason is not influencing the decision. If you’ve ever had a frustrating political debate with your friend who refuses to see the logic in your argument, you know what I mean. But keep in mind that the friend sees you exactly the same way.

When politicians tell lies, they know the press will call them out. They also know it doesn’t matter. Politicians understand that reason will never have much of a role in voting decisions. A lie that makes a voter feel good is more effective than a hundred rational arguments. That’s even true when the voter knows the lie is a lie. If you’re perplexed at how society can tolerate politicians who lie so blatantly, you’re thinking of people as rational beings. […]

If your view of the world is that people use reason for their important decisions, you are setting yourself up for a life of frustration and confusion. You’ll find yourself continually debating people and never winning except in your own mind. Few things are as destructive and limiting as a worldview that assumes people are mostly rational.”

—Scott Adams, How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life (2013)

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