Why is it that we often ignore hard data and go with our gut when making a decision? It’s especially true when it comes to estimating the probability of something. Are our brains just really mediocre when it comes to numbers or is there a reason for our misguided instincts?
In this TED-Ed video, Sara Garofalo explains why we make decisions that don’t actually make logical sense. It comes down to heuristics, your brain’s quick and easy approach to problem-solving based on your previous experiences. In other words, going with your gut. But you “gut” doesn’t really take into account the hard logic and maths of every situation and is susceptible to various cognitive biases.
If these mental shortcuts are so mediocre at making the correct call, then why do we even have them, you ask? Because the complex decisions of the modern world are different from the environments in which we evolved. (A decision to flee from a potential predator prioritises speed, for example, even if the predator turns out to be harmless.) Luckily we do have time to make complicated decisions, so whenever you’re dealing with numbers, probability and multiple details, take a second to consider if your gut instinct isn’t actually the correct call.
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