Rationalising choice

Posted on September 30, 2008


Massimo Pigliucci has recently written a series of posts on the irrationality of voting behaviour. His most recent post is one that I wish I had written myself as it manages to link together most everything I am interested in. In discussing a couple of recent studies, he reaches the following conclusion:

This sort of research keeps raising questions about Aristotle’s assumption that humans are “the rational animal,” an assumption on which philosophical discourse, science itself, and public education are all based. It increasingly looks like we are more like “the rationalizing animal,” with serious consequences for how we interact with each other. Even so, I’m inclined not to be too pessimistic, though, since learning more about how the human mind really works — as opposed to the way we would like it to work — is surely the only way to discern effective from fruitless approaches to engage that mind in productive discourse. Just beware of loud noises, threatening images, and investigators who surreptitiously switch the pictures of women you like with those you don’t.