Thursday, June 18, 2009

Short(cut) is Sweet

I read this really interesting book called "Influence: Science and Practice" by Robert Cialdini recently and I was amazed by the simplicity with which the author expresses the rationale behind human thinking. We humans think that having evolved as the most rational being we make every decision rationally, putting all our thought into that miniscule moment when we actually decide. I am not trying to question the rationality of humans, but what I am pointing at is the concept of "Thinking before Acting" that we all consider an inherent characteristic of our rationale.

It is surprising to note that the decisions made by us are based on psychological factors more than they are based on facts. Why this happens is because when asked to decide, instead of analyzing the large amount of information available to us, we try to devise a shortcut that works for us under most circumstances. Very often we work like pre-programmed automatons that have learned a handful of socially, politically and psychologically correct actions and we keep using different combinations of the same actions wherever need be. How many times have you heard yourself say "Well thats what everyone is doing" or "How can I back-out, I promised" or "You may be right, but I'll stick to what I think"? How many times has it happened that while you cross a street, you see a couple of people staring at the roof of a building, and automatically you glance up too?

Off late there has been a lot a concern about how comfortable we have become with the "Shortcut Techniques". The latest observations show that we speak before acting and act before thinking. This is not only true for commoners like us but has become the mantra of the diplomatic communities as well. Its not uncommon for Nations and Organizations to retract their statements and issue clarifications for what they meant, which is obviously not a very good example for the citizenry.

In this Techno-age, the Human Race seems to be suffering from an information overload and the only thing thats lagging in technological advancement is the Human Brain. With little time available to weigh the plausibility and possibility of things its not surprising that rational thought has become a thing of the past. The only rescue from the situation seems to be a technology that embodied the Rational Mind, but if that happens, would we, the Human Species, even be required by Nature???

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