Monday, May 19, 2014

What I've Been Reading

Think Like a Freak: The Authors of Freakonomics Offer to Retrain Your Brain by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner. What else one can except other than surprises and a fun read from Freaknomics? The duo hint that this could be their last Freaknomics book; I hope not.

One reason is that it’s easy to let your biases— political, intellectual, or otherwise— color your view of the world. A growing body of research suggests that even the smartest people tend to seek out evidence that confirms what they already think, rather than new information that would give them a more robust view of reality. It’s also tempting to run with a herd. Even on the most important issues of the day, we often adopt the views of our friends, families, and colleagues. On some level, this makes sense: it is easier to fall in line with what your family and friends think than to find new family and friends! But running with the herd means we are quick to embrace the status quo, slow to change our minds, and happy to delegate our thinking. Another barrier to thinking like a Freak is that most people are too busy to rethink the way they think— or to even spend much time thinking at all. When was the last time you sat for an hour of pure, unadulterated thinking? If you’re like most people, it’s been a while. Is this simply a function of our high-speed era?

Perhaps not. The absurdly talented George Bernard Shaw— a world-class writer and a founder of the London School of Economics— noted this thought deficit many years ago. “Few people think more than two or three times a year,” Shaw reportedly said. “I have made an international reputation for myself by thinking once or twice a week.”

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