The Truth About How We Think

So the minute you think, “I’m a genius!” you probably need to think again, right?

Dr. Kahneman: It doesn’t even have to be that you’re a genius. But when you get a powerful first impression, stopping to think may be important. Sometimes, you should look for a different way of evaluating and judging the evidence — such as asking people for objective opinions or many other things that you can’t do about every question that comes to mind. Most of the time, though, there’s nothing we can do; we have to act on our impressions. We can’t stop and deliberate all day long.

That’s why I wouldn’t write a self-help book, because I don’t think we can do System 2 all the time. System 2 is too lazy — it does as little as possible. There really is a “principle of least effort” operating, so we try to get by with our intuition. For some people, thinking is really painful. For anybody, just slowing yourself down is painful, because fluency and cognitive ease are very present. Slowing yourself down means imposing not only additional work but some unpleasantness on yourself.

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