Philobiblon: Stop thinking and emote ...

Friday, February 17, 2006

Stop thinking and emote ...

An interesting study from Science is reported today in the Guardian. A study has found that snap decisions - the sort of thing traditionally called "emotional" and products of "women's intuition" - are often better than those that involve careful weighing of the facts of a problem, i.e. "rational" decisionmaking.

"Conscious thinkers were better able to make the best choice among simple products, whereas unconscious thinkers were better able to make the best choice among complex products," wrote Dr Dijksterhuis ...
The problem with thinking about things consciously is that you can only focus on a few things at once. In the face of a complex decision this can lead to giving certain factors undue importance. Thinking about something several times is also likely to produce slightly different evaluations, highlighting inconsistencies."

It makes me think of the real estate theory that people decide within two minutes of reaching the front door whether or not they are going to buy a house - surely this sort of decision. It might not be as silly a method as it sounds.

So perhaps we could all just feel that global warming is happening, and dangerous, and do something about it?
In The Times today:

If mankind does not put its house in order, temperatures could have risen by 15C (27F) by the year 3000 and sea levels by more than 11 metres (36ft), flooding much of London, the team, from the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, says in a report for the Environment Agency. Abrupt changes could make Britain much hotter, or even — such is the uncertainty of the predictions — first colder and then hotter.
This could happen if the North Atlantic current system collapsed, denying Britain the warming effect of the Gulf Stream. Ocean surface temperatures would fall by 3C (5.4F), but as the Arctic sea ice melted, they would rise again by 8C (14.4F) in an abrupt turnabout over a period of no more than about 20 years.


Blogger Lis Riba said...

Regarding the Science study, have you read Malcolm Blackwell's Blink?

That's largely the subject of the book: cases in which snap judgments are better than conscious decisions (get a load of the first posted excerpt), why that might be, cases where intiution fails us (such as racial profiling).

Cool book.

2/17/2006 02:08:00 pm  
Anonymous david ware said...

Tried to read Blink, subject is fascinating but the book is irritating--I got the feeling that Blackwell writes plagued by ADD. On the other hand, the scary figures regarding warming and attendant sea level rises are provocative. They bring to mind Lex Luthor's scheme in the first of the Superman movies to let most of western California slide into the sea, creating a new coast, in which he would have a controlling property interest. So, where does the 10-meter-above-sea-level contour run? Visions of a new "Costa del Bush" dance in my head.

Taking tongue out of cheek, I think back to the early 70s when I lived in West London and was fascinated by the plans for the then-unbuilt Tidal Barrier. It looked for some time as though it would not be built but it was--a mildly encouraging thing to remember. Possibly the prospect of water lapping at the steps of the Capitol in my old home town, Washington DC, may convince some of the "sound science" enthusiasts currently in charge there that their original snap judgements dismissing global warming ought to have been better informed.

2/17/2006 05:26:00 pm  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home