Wednesday, September 2, 2009

How do we make our choices?

Do you think your mind is capable of independent judgment and largely directs the course of your life? Do you think that most of your decisions in life have been the product of your rational, conscious self? Do you believe you are in control of your life? Do you cherish ideas such as self-expression, a sense of autonomy and a distinct, self-authored identity? Probably most of the people will answers yes; besides given the pervasive culture we live in, that reinforces all these ideas, it would be odd for a person to provide a negative reply .

When it comes to building the physical world, we kind of understand our limitations. We build steps. And we build these things that not everybody can use obviously. (Laughter) We understand our limitations. And we build around it. But for some reason when it comes to the mental world, when we design things like healthcare and retirement and stockmarkets, we somehow forget the idea that we are limited. I think that if we understood our cognitive limitations in the same way that we understand our physical limitations, even though they don't stare us in the face in the same way, we could design a better world.

We value things more when we pay a higher price for them. The Bayer aspirin and the Rolex watch seem valuable because of how much they cost, not because they're better in practical terms than a generic aspirin or a Timex. Relativity distorts reality. We might be earning 10 times more money than we earned for the same work a decade ago, but we're convinced that we're underpaid if the people around us are earning more.

Dan Ariely states "Consumers make numerous decisions on a daily basis. Therefore by understanding the underlying mechanisms that drive the particular choices consumers make is invaluable". His goal is to argue and demonstrate that individuals sometimes make decisions according to preset rules and not their preferences, and that such a decision making mechanism may lead them to make decisions that don’t always maximize their utilities.

The more our minds are befuddled by falsehood, misperceptions and illusions – the less able we will be to determine correct courses of action and make wise decisions. Our view of reality is like a map with which to negotiate the terrain of life. If the map is true and accurate, we will generally know where we are, and if we have decided where we want to go, we will generally know how to get there. If the map is false and inaccurate, we generally will be lost.


Paul said...

Such a complicated question, you could spend your whole life thinking about it. My best advice, taoism, trust your instincts and let the decision make you.

the walking man said...

Any choice made using false data is not a choice made from a rational position. We trust the data input and fail to realize that we are being manipulated, over time, by the Madison Avenue advertisers working as the henchmen for corporate interests. Producers of goods and services need consumers of that output. They will do anything, say anything to protect their wealth and profit.

The GIGO applies to choices based on cultural influences. garbage In=Garbage Out.

So what is the solution? Turn off the TV? Never look at a billboard or newspaper, never listen to the radio? NO!

Simply understand the mechanism used to influence us, the consumer, and see it for what it is. Then you can make your choice rationally as to whether a Timex is as good as a Rolex. (personally I do not own a watch that works)

The entire health care debate in America is something the whole world needs to watch. If the corporate for profit companies win this battle and further enhance their bottom line in America I am convinced that national health care the world over is in peril of becoming a profit stream for those dogs.

Know thine enemy and then make thy choices.

Cualquier elección que haga uso de datos falsos no es una elección hecha desde una posición racional. Confiamos en que la entrada de datos y no se dan cuenta de que estamos siendo manipulados, con el tiempo, por los publicistas de Madison Avenue de trabajo como los secuaces de los intereses corporativos. Los productores de bienes y servicios de necesidad de los consumidores de ese producto. Ellos harán cualquier cosa, dicen cualquier cosa para proteger su riqueza y beneficios.

El Gigo se aplica a elegir en base a las influencias culturales. En = basura basura.

Entonces, ¿cuál es la solución? Apague la televisión? Nunca mire a un cartel o un periódico, no escuchar la radio? ¡NO!

Basta con comprender el mecanismo utilizado para influir en nosotros, el consumidor, y verla por lo que es. Entonces usted puede hacer su elección racional de si un Timex es tan bueno como un Rolex. (personalmente yo no tengo un reloj que funciona)

Todo el debate sobre la asistencia de la salud en Estados Unidos es algo que el mundo entero necesita ver. Si el beneficio empresarial de las empresas ganar esta batalla y mejorar sus resultados en América Estoy convencido de que la atención sanitaria nacional en todo el mundo está en peligro de convertirse en un flujo de beneficios para los perros.

Conoce a tu enemigo y luego elegir tu.

Mariana Soffer said...

Nice to see you arround.
I actually tend to do what you say, but I think it is interesting how our beings can be easily fooled by simple and usual things. And if we are at least aware of that we can prevent big companies and their marketing departments to take advantage of it.

Anyway I loved your advice, I will try to follow it more often, but remember I do science, sometimes I can not help trying to understand certain stuff.

Take care paul

Mariana Soffer said...

the walking man
First of all I wanted to thank you for taking the time to translate your post to my native language.

You are right about companies being capable of doing anything for their benefit, but they are also taking advantage of our own design failures, which cause us to judge several particual situations wrong.

I learned the GIGO term, which I like, at university, it was regarding the data you give to a program, if you feed it with garbage that goes in then garbage will go out.

Exactelly we need to understand how this mechanism works. It is funny now that you mention it I also do not have a watch of my own.

I do not know exactely what is the issue with healthcare in the states but I will read about it, but I do now how pharmaceutical companies work, and I can tell you that they are a real treath to society. I had to work in one of them. There are the second most important industry of your country, after the armament one.

For what I understand Big pharma disguises themselves making us belive that their purpose is to heal people, while indeed is to make more money by provoking the necesity of taking the pill. And there are tons of other things that I could explain to you about how this companies work, like for example how they do their trials in the 3d world countries without following any of the cityzen protection laws that americans have.

I would say know the enemy. study your possibilities and the society ones to act against it, and then prepare an attack with the best proportions for the analized situation.

Uncle Tree said...

Beautifully written, Mariana! Your questions are stunning, making any answer we might give you quite questionable.

Even if we are born with preferences, we still have to learn what they are, and only through trial and error (yes, error) do we come close to solving the riddle of our choices. Buddhists teach a philosophy of 'no preferences'. That doesn't mean they buy the cheapest stuff on the shelf, does it?

A Christian might pray for answers, if not beg. Whilst a Far Easterner might meditate, yoke with God, and become the answer itself, which of course only brings up more questions.

"Need vs. Want" If I can teach my children anything, I wish for them to understand what that means. But that doesn't mean I've conquered my own list of priorities...far from it. It is one of the things we all have in common as human beings. It has nothing to do with "keeping up with the Joneses", that's for sure.

The question of free-will might be brought up by someone. Luv ya, girl. Hugz! said...

I heard that there are a profound misunderstanding of how we think, and how our brains work. Thay They are indeed fairytales, about as fanciful and as implausible as witches that fly on brooms. Can you give me some explamples of classical misunderstandings most people tend to have.

Mariana Soffer said...

Some of the misconceptions I found and others that I could think of include:

We have much underestimated the social nature of the brain, we do not tend to behave based only on our own thoughts.

We are herd-like animals who show a strong tendency to conform with group norms

We should try to understand the behavioral economics field. Because we have many intuitions in our lives,buh many of these intuitions that are related to this field are wrong.

Raul said...

Which are some of the big lies that companies make us belive in our country according to your understanding?

Mariana Soffer said...


In America, conventional wisdom that has mass acceptance is usually contrived: somebody paid for it. Examples:

* Pharmaceuticals restore health
* Vaccination brings immunity
* The cure for cancer is just around the corner
* When a child is sick, he needs immediate antibiotics
* When a child has a fever he needs Tylenol
* Hospitals are safe and clean.
* America has the best health care in the world.
* And many many more

This is a list of illusions, that have cost billions and billions to conjure up. Did you ever wonder why most people in the states think generally the same about most of the above issues?

Mariana Soffer said...

Uncle Tree
I am happy to hear you exited about this! Thank you very much for your compliments, and please do not be afraid to make wrong or lame comments because all of us are here in order to learn, and as my mom used to say none of us was born knowing that.

You are right about our need of learning which our own preferences are, because thet are not trivial to be identified by us. I heard about the no preference philosophy, but to tell you the truth I am not sure what is that, I might try to find it later on the budhist books I have.

I agree that christians will pray for answers and that by the aquisiition of more knowledge more questions are usually generated.

It is fundamental what you want to teach that toyour kids, I can tell you how I managed to learn it and I still leave now mostly based on the need mandate. I think I learn to apreciate and valorate things because in the period during from when I was born till I was arround 16, my family was extremelly poor, we did not even have money for new gym clothes, and I started working, luckly in computers, when I was 15 years of age, So I guess that was a strong influence on my economic behaviour.

I thought about that question but did not include it on purpose, there has been too much talk about it lately, but it will probably come at some time.

Love to you dear uncle, and thanks for your clever comments.

Jim Murdoch said...

So I suppose we're talking about the difference between cost, price, value and worth here. The things I value the most and worth very little to anyone bar myself; they have a sentimental value. I might have paid little or nothing for them (often they are gifts) and they will have cost even less to produce but, to me, they're priceless. I'm really not a materialistic person. I buy second-hand books rather than new. I wear a Casio watch. I'm typing on a Dell laptop and not one of the nice, bright coloured ones they're advertising on TV even though they were out when we ordered it. I never impulse buy and brand names have little effect on me.

Mariana Soffer said...

Jim Murdoch:
Well that is one of the things we are talking indeed, but that would be for certain kind of people that cares about it, I am also interested in how easy is our mind to decieve and how manipulable we are. Of course these characteristics are fundamentally atractive for the marketing people, almost all of the others do not try to exploit this human traits that the brain has. The problem also consist in thinking that we are taking the correct decisions when indeed we are not and do not realize about that.

To tell you the truth I am pretty much like you are, I just do not care much about stuff, you can realize about it by reading my reply on this post to uncle tree.

Thanks a lot for your visit dear jim

Charles Gramlich said...

I always tell my students that humans are not primarily rational organisms. And that while rationality is a wonderful tool it is probably not desirable for humans to be rational in 100 percent of the situations they encounter. Also of course, for many folks rationality merely becomes a tool used by their emotions to get their way.

Anonymous said...

and still
there are those
who work without a map;
working with only a vague, or,
a certain sense -- by faith, perhaps -- itself a two-edged sword

¤ ¤ ¤


Anonymous said...

Hi Marian!!!

Same old subject =)

If our brain is fully deterministic, then we make no choices at all, and we are 100% rational beings. This implies that the consciousness is just self awareness, and there is no free will.

But, the Uncertainty Principle must work at the brain too, so randomness must be involved at the synaptic level, so we are not fully deterministic, we don’t decide always the same given the same circumstances and so on.
Is this randomness the “free will”?

What is consciousness? Is it just a measure of the complexity of connections in our brain? a gift given by the creator? Is there any free will at all? Or we are just pure machines?

I don’t think we are prepared to answer all these, and the answer will involve not only science, but also religion and philosophy…

~otto~ said...

Another interesting topic. I think you might enjoy this article:

It touches on subjects you have covered in this post and the previous one.

Ted Bagley said...

I have to go with my own experience on this one.
When I have a choice it's because I'm trying to avoid one of them, or all of them while ignoring the one not listed.
As opposed to a decision which implies the point of no choice in the matter.
My post content will be up later this evening, I promise. :)

Mariana Soffer said...

Charles Gramlich
It is amazing what you do, cause you are able to explain and change people thoughts about this kind of theories and about their assumptions of how things work.
I agree with you rationality is a wounderful tool but there are also other ones which we must use even if we do not want to such the one you mention which is emotions and also intuition is an important thing.

Thanks a lot for your insights C

Mariana Soffer said...

So true what you say
But I think also rationality can be a double edge sword so combining it properly with other decision influentiatiors would be perhaps the best choice

Take care my lord

Mariana Soffer said...

Thank you very much for your interesting thoughts, they are awesome.

I guess that if we where fully deterministic entities we would behave in exactelly the same way as computers do, with no diferences.

I dp not think that "that" randomness is free will, here is a good definition of it:
What freewill tries to account for is our introspective conviction that we are in control of many of our choices, and thus our destiny - that we are free to think and decide. We contrast this flexible, conscious control that we enjoy with the involuntary action of, say, our heartbeat or digestion, and with the instinctual imperative of a bird's nest-building or a dog's conditioned response. Our decisions are far more independent of nature and nurture than any animal's; we are aware of our ability to think and of the consequences of our choices - we can claim responsibility for our actions. These are the meaningful differences that give rise to the concept of freewill.

About conciousness all I can tell you is that is a yet unknown and very complex concept, and that it has nothing to do with measuring our connections.

I belive that there is free will, we are not competely free to decide things, we are constrained by several things but anyway we have the hability to choose and evaluate what we want to do.

I agree we will need the help of those two other disciplines to understand a little bit more about it.

For example one way religion thinkks about it is:
The paradox of free will in jewish tradition:

In Rabbinic literature, there is much discussion as to the apparent contradiction between God's omniscience and free will. The representative view is that "Everything is foreseen; yet free will is given" (Rabbi Akiva, Pirkei Avoth 3:15). Based on this understanding, the problem is formally described as a paradox, beyond our understanding.
“ The Holy One, Blessed Be He, knows everything that will happen before it has happened. So does He know whether a particular person will be righteous or wicked, or not? If He does know, then it will be impossible for that person not to be righteous. If He knows that he will be righteous but that it is possible for him to be wicked, then He does not know everything that He has created. ...[T]he Holy One, Blessed Be He, does not have any temperaments and is outside such realms, unlike people, whose selves and temperaments are two separate things. God and His temperaments are one, and God's existence is beyond the comprehension of Man… [Thus] we do not have the capabilities to comprehend how the Holy One, Blessed Be He, knows all creations and events. [Nevertheless] know without doubt that people do what they want without the Holy One, Blessed Be He, forcing or decreeing upon them to do so... It has been said because of this that a man is judged according to all his actions. (Maimonides, Mishneh Torah, Teshuva 5:5)”

The paradox is explained, but not resolved, by observing that God exists outside of time, and therefore, his knowledge of the future is exactly the same as his knowledge of the past and present. Just as his knowledge of the past does not interfere with man's free will, neither does his knowledge of the future. This distinction, between foreknowledge and predestination, is in fact discussed by Maimonides' critic Abraham ibn Daud;

Hope you liked my replied, I did enjoy thinking about your reflections on the subject. Thanks D

Mariana Soffer said...

Thanks you very much for the link, it is a really good and, and to tell you the truth I had alraedy connected these topics and thought about talking about both, but then I though that lately to much had been said about F W.
To see a little bit what I think abuot that you can check my reply to anonymous that is just about your comment reply.

Thanks a lot otto for everything, really thank you very much.

Mariana Soffer said...

Ted Bagley
Thanks for your comment, altough it is a little confusing for my tired brain.
I do understand and agree that in choosing getting rid of one or more of the options is implied, that is right.
I get it now and by deciding it does not necesarily imply you need to choose between things, you just agreed with your self on doing or maintaining some way of thinking.


Rayuela said...

Creo que el gran consumidor no es un ser sumamente pensante. Ha sido ganado por el marketing? O ya era no pensante y decidió no seguir pensando y sólo consumiendo? No lo sé.
Creo que debemos estar atentos, para no perdernos, para no salirnos del camino, y así, poder continuar efectuando y tomando opciones y decisiones.

Un beso.

Mariana Soffer said...

Rayuela said
I think that a classical consumer is not a very thoutfull being. Has his brain been won by the marketing and market strategies? Or was he a thoughtless being before and decided not to keep thinking and just to go on consuming things. I do not know.
I think we should watch out, not to loose ourself, not to get out of our path and in this was be able to keep taking decisions and transport them to the real life

Mariana Soffer said...

There was a philosopher that said "There is no emotion or love involved in decisions based on economic rationality". therefore we can infer it is not a fulfilling activity for the human being.

For hundreds of years we have believed that increased material wealth makes us happier, and we have shaped our world accordingly. We have built big box stores along highways that can only be reached by car. We have built larger and larger vehicles that isolate us from others and emit dangerous levels of carbon. We work 40 hours a week – or more – to maintain this lifestyle. Why do we believe that making a lot of money makes us happy? “We didn’t evolve with iPods and fancy cars,”

“How could we possibly have a preset level of satisfaction that relates material things to how happy we are?”

In my opinion the problem is related to our brain reward system, that has been trained to feel instant satisfiaction with consumption. But like you say we can prevent it if we take care.

Very interesting thought you shared

Thanks my friend

Robb Todd said...

Anon's comment and your reply to anon about free will was quite enlightening. I had never heard that paradox before.

Uncle Tree said...

I think Pavlov's dog just pissed on my trunk. Talk about instant just reward for telling the dog what a slave to his instincts he be.

Prevention? Trees don't were rubber boots.

Mariana Soffer said...

Robb Todd
I am gladd you found annon comment and my replie to himself enlightingh, I am really glad about that.
I knew the paradox since a long time ago, cause my parents use to teach and read me stuff about maimonides since I was pretty young, and I used to enjoy what they made me reflect a lot.

If you enjoy paradox as much as I do I recomend you to read a hofstadter book called methamagical themas.

Bye my friend

Mariana Soffer said...

Uncle Tree
Funny and interesting comment, a great one indeed uncle tree.

But I do not think that the dog realized what you intended to show him about his instincts, I think he was just probably pissed due to other things. Maybe he did not like the last peace of meat you gave him to eat.
I agree that the generally don t but by prevention I refer that maybe we should have/implement some kind of discipline to deal with that kind of behaviours that are not beneficial for us.

Anonymous said...

I look at it this way. Our mental limitations are directly related to believing we have no mental limitations. Us "smart people" think we are very much above societal pressures and trends.

My limitation is that my brain is so fragile, my cognition so easily fractured, by questioning myself about why I do or don't do something.

I liked this post, mariana.

Vesper said...

Mariana, what a thought provoking post. I think we live in the paradigm that was created for us and that it is extremely hard if not possible to "think" outside of it, even when we have the illusion that we do...

Thank you for coming back to my blog. Your presence there is much appreciated. :-)

Anonymous said...

we can't make any choices. it's writen. we're only observers.

Mariana Soffer said...

medicated lady
Thanks for the comment, and I am glad that you liked the post.
It is really interesting, and I think true, what you say about what our problem is, although it is problably not the only one we have. But things will surelly be improve if we are truly aware of that fact, which is one of the things I try to incentive people do with this post.

I have similar limitatins than yours, but I would add that my emotional structure is too week, I can not stand dificult emotional times at all. And the other would be my harsh judgment about my self. And some more I am mot willing to let know to the public.

Thanks and bye lady

Mariana Soffer said...

I think we sould try to be aware of the paradigm we live in then things will be much better for our own beings.

I like your blog a lot, I like to read and coment post there, but sometimes I either forget or I am sadly to bussy to do those things.

Thank you very much and take care
I will add you to my feed so I will not forget about yourblog anymore.

Mariana Soffer said...

That is determinism, you sound if you where a kabhalah reader, are you one of then? Cause I would love to study that one of these days.

Anyway I am not so sure that all is written, I think lots of things are, but maybe we can change some stuff with what we do in this life

Bye bye

Shaista said...

Mariana, thankyou so much for your most recent comment - it was very thoughtful and sincere, and I appreciated it greatly. "Our life is an eternal quest for the platform that can better support us. without getting too far from the path." - these words of yours are beautiful and I am going to copy them into my journal. One day I may quote Mariana Soffer's words :)

Shaista said...

I really enjoy these discussions you host(ess) :) And I loved the piece you quoted from the Torah, as you say it explains the paradox, but does not resolve it. After all, if it were resolved, man's passion and creativity, so fuelled by this very paradox, might disappear. I am very drawn to the mystical element of all monotheistic religions so when you post your thoughts on Kabbalah, I will be very interested to read them.
Take care, friend.

Ted Bagley said...

"Any choice made using false data is not a choice made from a rational position."
I agree with Walking Man on this one.

Mariana Soffer said...

you are very nice indeed, I feel really flattered, my ego has grown more than an inch!

Religions are interesting for me to, specially monoteistic ones like for you, but sadly I can not belive in god, I never could. For me is not an opcion, it is just a reality to be like that. But that fact does not take away the fact that I read about them and want to know their traditions, beliefs, and how the people are.

My family is from jewish origins, but non of my ancestors followed jewish tradition neither the religious rituals, so I studied them by myself. Which I found real fascinating at that time.

By the way it is just like you say about how the paradox would be solved and it just like that but as you implied it does not seem to be happening anytime near now.

Take good care of yourself too my friend.

Mariana Soffer said...

Ted Bagley:
Thanks for providing us with your opinion, and by the way let me tell you that I think that walking man is an amazing thinker.

Bye bye

Ted Bagley said...

I think you're biased, though.

My post is up on both blogs.

Take care.

Dave King said...

I have to go along with Charles, believing that we are not basically rational beings. We've had a rational bit tacked on which often we use to explain, explain away, justify or support conclusions reached by quite other means. Fine post, though.

Mariana Soffer said...

ted bagley

reallly, where else is it? in which other blog? I always say that is incoherent to try to be coherent in this life. But I want to understand better of why am I biased

Bye ted

Mariana Soffer said...

dave king
Thanks a lot for the compliment.
I used to belive in a theory that said that we first make the decision and then we develop a rational explanation about why we did it. It is pretty intesting.

Take care, and thanks for your comment

Uncle Tree said...

Hello again, Mariana!

I was glad to see the question of free-will brought up. Thanks for the Torah, for it did bore a hole right through my brain.

A lot of religions discuss the thought that consciousness for man might have been an error on The Creator's part. Like, we were never supposed to eat from The Tree Of Knowledge. "Oh, magnificent fault." I think that's how the Catholics say it.

Free-will must have become a reality at that moment. One man, or one smart ape, had to have been the first to know of it's own existence, and immediately thereafter become aware of it's impending death. Biologically speaking, what happened in the brain that made this possible? What new connection, which nerve, which synaptic impulse got us over the hump, so to speak?

Btw, since you grew up rather poor, I think you've done a damn good job raising yourself to the heights where you now reside. I don't know whether I should say, "You've been lucky", because that takes away a bit of the spark that flames your will to go on and conquer your imagined limitations.

Another old thought of mine:
"If you don't have a god, then He has you."

He has you fooled, I mean.
Hiding in Man was a great idea on His part.

Mariana Soffer said...

Uncle Tree
Hi, always a pleasure to read you.
It is nice to have friend that are glad for you when something improves among the other person stuff.

I do not understand much about catholic thoughts, but I do not know if the knowledge they refer to is the same one that we refer to in this post. It is just a doubt my mind brought up.
On the other side religion is probably right about possibility that knowledge might cause us harm. I think the key is the distinction of what kind of knowledge we refer when we talk, and the following step learn which kind of quest for knowledge can make us lead a better life.

Fascinating you question about what was it that triggered self awareness.

Thanks for the compliment on my acomplishments in life. To tell you the truth I always think I am a lucky persoon indeed, not in all the aspect I would like, but I am greatfull for what chance had in store for me.

Guauu, what an interesting 3 sentences you just mention, they are excelent. And they sound for sure right, but I can not rationalize the thoughts for the analisis of them, I have to feel at a deeper level of my brain what you are saying. Or maybe think of a concret case.

I love you man you made me start the the day with a smile once again

d.i.d. said...

marian, me gusta todo el blog !
pero este post sobre el simio parlante, mucho !
no solo no es el ser racional
sino el mismo "yo", una ilusion
una estructura cognitiva al comando de pensamientos self-serving.
no entendemos, no sabemos, y lo peor es q creemos q si.
el terreno del marketing es solo un ejemplo.

gracias tambien a otto por el link al articulo de wired con marta farah.

Ted Bagley said...

The Zafu blog at the bottom of my roll.

geek said...

I actually answered "No" to all questions. It's probably because of the context in which I am living in. The culture where I'm from is highly (but not entirely, mind you) communal.

Also, I watched a documentary about Stress. And something was mentioned there that I found interesting and relevant to your post. It is that we see multitasking as a goal (because it's awesome? I dunno) but people should really do things one at a time because it is less stressful. And stress can kill. So, ease your body, ease your mind, and be happy. :)

Jason Gusmann said...

hey mariana - jg ballard stated that we are so surrounded by the falsehoods of the consumerist/advertising industry and so befuddled by the merging of the interior and exterior landscapes that making decisions of the sort you are talking about becomes a serious daily issue with a minefield around it that is only surmountable with the most sincere efforts. truly existing in the world has become an effort that many of us are simply not up to.

paulandrewrussell said...

I think if we leave our view of reality in the hands of let's say, the media, then of course it's going to be distorted. Advertisers do nothing but sell. In fact all media are in business to make money whether they say so or not. There's no altruism in TV, newspapers, advertising, radio or the movies.

Our perception of reality can also be distorted by others and their views of the world.

We have our own views too, and good or bad these are what guide us. We can still find our way without a map, it just takes longer.

If only we would listen to that inner voice more often, our mind, we would make better choices based on reality, not perceived reality as presented to us by the media.

Our minds are there to guide us, to look after our bodies. It's only when we get in the way of that direction that we mess things up.

I think we all know what reality is. I think we all know what choices we should make and how to make them.

However, there are parties out there who have a vested interest in making sure we make the wrong choices; hence all the misdirection and the attempts to alter our perceptions of reality.

Val said...

mariana, I've determined that it is long are in need of an award to highlight your specialness...I've nominated you for a blog award...go to my blog and see! hugs

Mariana Soffer said...

mariana, I like all the blog but this article about the talking monek a lot!.
Not only is the racional being an ilusion, but even the same I is. A cognitive structure under the orders of the self-serving thoughts. We do not understand, we do not know, and the worst is that we belive that we do. The area of marketing is just one example.

thanks to otto too for the link to the wired article with martha farah.

Mariana Soffer said...

Thanks for your nice compliment about my blog! it made my day! I have to tell you that I love you comments a lot, and I am happy to have discovered a new aspect of yours that I did not know.

I completelly agree about the things you mention being an ilusion. That is the root of the problem (believing there are true and not ilusory) that gives origin to the idea that we are rational decision making beings. Anyway, what is real in this world? who can mention a truth that is for sure true? I do no know.

Thanks for your thoughts dear friend

Mariana Soffer said...

ted bagley
Thanks for the information, I understand it is in the zafu blog, but is it in a post? what is the last roll? you do not have a blog roll? is it the last post? and by the other blog do you refer to d'autre one? Sorry I got confused looking for the info in blogs.

But anyway, more than biased, I am probably inconsistent, I can have to different opinions of the same thing at different moments. And this is severelly influenced about how I do feel.

Take care ted Good new blog!

Mariana Soffer said...

Interesting to be living in a culture like that, I would love to have that experience, it would feel probably less lonely than in cities like new york or london.

Interesting what you say about multitasking, I always thought anyway that what is tiresome for the mind is to be changing among tasks, cause you have to bring the hole new scenario each time you change to a new one. It is less brain consuming to do a lot of only one task. Anyway I think this comment about stress might fit also in an excelent way in my "depression and culture" post, I think I will add it also there, to complete the discussion we already had.

Thanks a lot for that really interesting data, and for your kind advice that is really wothy of being payed atention at.

Be well man, be really fine.

Mariana Soffer said...

Jason Gusmann
I love Ballard, he was such an amazing writer, thinker, an philosopher. I discovered him when I was youg trough reading his science fiction stuff. And then I started reading his writtings of other kind. It is sad he just died, but he left us with a lot to think about, for example the amazing thought you just wrote in this post.
And your words are so right when you refer that to exist in a truthfulll way has became an imposible task, at least that is how it feels for me most of the time.

Thanks a lot for your smart comment.

Mariana Soffer said...

You are right the one that produces the media we watch is going to make it in a way a it gets benefited from that.
Sure we are influentiable people, I was thinking for example that there are many carismatic and reasonable-sounding people that changes how each of one thinks about stuff.
I think that our own views are the only thing that can save us in this life.(I wrote this before reading your 4 and 5 paragraph, so I see we think alike).

I am not so sure about paragraph 6, I think we know some things, and others not that much, but that we have to search for answers in ourselves, sometimes with the help of the outside word facts.

There are many parties intrested in altering our perception of reality, like many companies that want us to belive we can not live a normal life without having microwave, that we will look like kate moss if we buy a pair of calvin jeans, that we will be happy for ever if we dial the number of the company that will provide us with a matching partner for our lives. And a millon more like that.

Thanks a lot paul for you great insights.

Harlequin said...

funny-- I said no to all the questions... but that is mostly because I got in so much trouble years ago believing that a) I was in control of things that I really had no control over and b) that rational, independent " objective " thought was possible
hah! no more
now, I am happier with indeterminancy and liminality and ambiguity... it makes life intriguing and the mundane world amazing.

Mariana Soffer said...

You are so sweet, You really made my day, for real. You changed it.
And you can not imagine you how much.
I am going to check your website

Lots of love!

Mariana Soffer said...

If you check my friend geek answered no to all of them also.
I imagine you change the way you thought in a hard way, by going trouth some complicated situations which made you realize that htings where not indeed how you thought there where. I am just curious about what made you change.
It it nice what you say about how you feel now, I am glad for your, you know there is a saying that goes something like "randomness is a kind of hope", and I think it is right.

Thanks a lot for stepping by

TC said...

"Our view of reality is like a map with which to negotiate the terrain of life. If the map is true and accurate, we will generally know where we are, and if we have decided where we want to go, we will generally know how to get there. If the map is false and inaccurate, we generally will be lost."


I fear all the maps will finally lead us Nowhere.

It's as Chet sang: "Let's get lost..."

Anonymous said...

I pop into this place/your space on and off, even though I don't leave a comment. I read you and absorb your words. You often make me think and that is a good thing. Something which I do not do enough of. Thanking you.

Mariana Soffer said...

you made me laugh with you comment, and start singing lets get lost lost in each other's ... which is a great song.
I guess you are right it does not exist a correct map that could guide us, we have to figure it out for ourselves and at each different time. There is a nice song here that has a part which says
"caminante no hay camino se hace camino al andar", that means "walking man there is not path, the path is done while you walk" which sounds awfull in english but I guess you got the idea of the song.

And yes, lets get lost, singing the song.

Love to you and to your wife

Mariana Soffer said...

I am glad to know that you often step by.

Regarding the thinking I do not know if it is good or bad to do it, it all depends what are you planning to use it for.
Maybe you just like it because you enjoy training your thoughts, which is a good reason for excercise your mind. Enjoying is good enough.

Your welcome and thank you for stepping by and leaving such a nice comment.

Anonymous said...

No kidding, dear mariana--we share that same structural weakness (Loved that phrase applied here). Can't wait until they make the "this is the absolute right thing to do" pill. :)

Mariana Soffer said...

I agree with what you say, I thought that a couple of month ago , that is one of the reasons I like to know how you cope in this life, and I would like to chat also about what to do with who we are. I would love to have that pill also, but I do not think we are going to be lucky enough to have it discovered during of lifetime.
Take care lady

Andy Coffey said...


As always, great and challenging blog. Dan's work and his book is awesome. When Predictably Irrational came out, for some reason my local bookshop didn't get it right away, and I remember feeling for the first time like being a complete jerk since they had no idea who Dan was.
I find subjects like this particularly interesting where things like parenting and relationships are concerned. A study was recently done at Indiana University, and the results published, where some researchers showed that sugar does not have the effect of making children "hyper." Every parent I have talked to has violently disagreed. I think a lot of assumptions made based on observation tend to be deeply affected by our presumptions and stress level. By the claims we make on the world: not cold objectivity. We're human.

Mariana Soffer said...

Andy Coffey

Thanks a lot dude, you are really nice. Do not feel a fool for that, do you know how many days do you need to reed all the scientific material that is published in a single day? Last time I checked it was arround five thousand, so I guess you can never be completelly up to date. But you can have a couple of websites that are good that you can regularely check.
There is one I love, that is a radio program you can read or hear, this is if you like neuroscience and cultural stuff, which is called "all in the mind" by natasha mitchell, check it out, is great.
Very intersting the sugar thing, I did not have a clue about it, mmm lots of implications starting with the urban myths. Another really intersting subjects the missconceptions of society.
I agree about what you say regarding our presumption and a lot about our stress levels, they affect more than we think. We are also pretty suggestionable beings.

We are just subjective humans, as you say.

Thanks a lot for your great comment.

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