Seeking wisdom

What we think effects the brain. Placebo actually causes changes in brain neurons.

  • Try not to think negative. Because it might not help. But if you have to it's ok.
  • Even more powerful- think positive even if it's not. Brain will actually feel it.
  • When sick, tell yourself it will heal soon. And it will.

Natural selection - Evolution favored traits that helps (or helped) humans survive. Most of our decision making and instincts are developed because of natural selection. (ex: over eating, uncomfortable sleep in new place)

  • Most of these traits are developed when we were hunter gathers (which was 99% of human evolution)
  • Humans are selfish. Being selfish worked well in hunter gatherer times (but also altruism when on display)
  • Fear, fast judgement, looking for trust-able traits in strangers - products on natural selection and what was reinforced.
  • Human’s primary role in evolution is to reproduce. Status and wealth were instincts that favored higher chance of reproduction.
  • Are people altruistic by nature? - Altruism developed to help build status. Are people co-operative by nature? - When it helped.
  • Prisoner’s Dilemma - If you both deny the crime, both go to jail for 1 year. Both confess - 3 years. One confesses and other denies. Confessor goes free, other for 10 years. Without communication, logical decision would be for both to deny. But isolated to one person - fear of ‘failure’ (in this case, failed person denies and other accepts) has very high loss. But given communication and iteration, cooperation is learnt and trust is built.
  • Dissatisfaction if weak we call regret, and if severe remorse. Dissatisfaction is caused by conscience.
  • Effective long term strategies that worked
  • Tit for tat and circle back to trust
  • Reciprocation
  • Fear of disapproval keeps a society intact - Fear of god, police, judgement of neighbors.
  • Put a group of hens together. After chaos, a social order with hierarchy is established.
  • When placed with a robot that was staring while donating, people donated twice.
  • Why we make bad decisions
  • Ego, fear, greed, envy. mindless imitation of other people.
  • IQ + talent. Club it with rationality for final result.

Psychological reasons for mistakes

  • Mere association: we most easily associate to the events whose consequences we have experienced must often and the ones we eailsily remember.
  • Association can influence immune system
  • Persian Messenger syndrome - bad news is associated with the bearer
  • Reward and punishment: we do what is rewarding and avoid what we are punished for
  • Behavior that is rewarded on an unpredictable basis had highest rate of response - gambling
  • If it's easy to steal, people steal
  • In NYPD, pension is based on last year salary, every officer in last year gets over time hours from all others. No one feels shame. They feel entitled. It's a cycle.
  • Players wear lucky t-shirts for last matches. Pigeons bob their head if food appeared when they bobbed last few times. Ritual and favorable conequence create superstitions on repetition irrespective of causation
  • Fedex paid by hour when packages wer shifted - moral suasation, threats nothing worked to stop chaos and delays. What worked is paying by shift. Right incentives are important.
  • Praise is more effective in changing behavior than punishment
  • Don't overlearn from your own or others bad or good experiences. Everything comes with a context. Judge based on its own merit.
  • An example of a really responsible system is the system Romans used when they built an arch. The guy who created the arc stood under it as scaffolding was removed.
  • People are self serving. Make sure incentives are placed right.
  • Teachers help students cheat if their pay depends on the outcome
  • When police branch with improvement in crime statistics was rewarded, other branches started classifying serius crimes as petty akd stopped investigating.
  • Self serving tendencies and optimism
  • People tend to put higher probability on desired events.
  • When successful we attribute it to our character and failure to external events.
  • An optimist is a person who sees a green light everywhere, while the pessimist sees only the red spotlight. Truly wise person is colorblind.
  • First principle is that you must but fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool
  • Consistency
  • Why do politicians continue fighting wars long after it is clear war is a bad idea?
  • Sunk cost fallacy
  • Do-nothing syndrome
  • Decision to do nothing is also a decision
  • Contrast comparison
  • We go across town to save 10$ on a radio but not to save 10$ on large TV
  • Order of information matters
  • We judge by relative units, not absolute