From the Northeastern Section of the ACS, focusing on career management and development

December 2021
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Thinking. Fast, Slow and Human Nature
Filed under: Observ. Trends
Posted by: site admin @ 7:38 am

Was at a gathering yesterday and spoke to a fellow who
was reading Ariely’s book, Predictably Irrational.  While
I have not read it I have ordered his book on Cheating,
after hearing a podcast where he described his thesis
on human nature and implications.

Starting, then, with human nature, all humans cheat, he
concluded, yet most in little ways.  Some who are
discovered and punished have perhaps gone too far.
He points out humans cheat first to themselves by little
lies or even wishes, and become insensitive to actions
and thoughts, with small steps first, one at a time, then
at the other extreme is the “what the h_ll effect” with
long term consequences.

However, in human dynamics, it is not just cheating and
its verbal analog, lying, that factor in but others that
may in fact take precedence over a miss-deed or -statement.
An example is “peace with those at home.” 
Emotions and the feelings of others plays a significant

Going along with this are two popular books out
and reviewed recently– Kahneman’s Thinking Fast and
, and Partnoy’s Wait.  Where Kahneman does an
elegant portrait of human biases, decision-making
and happiness, Partnoy reflects on investigations of
implications of doing things quickly (human nature)
and the positive effects of holding off before our choice
of speech or actions.  To my twisted logic these two are
nice but benefit from the reality of Ariely’s Cheating.
It is as if Kahneman and Partnoy present the science
and Ariely offers the engineering and application
in human thinking processes.

While many have read Kahneman’s book and their
reviews, the comments contain some salient moments
in Partnoy’s Wait and Ariely’s Cheating.

2 Responses to “Thinking. Fast, Slow and Human Nature”

  1. site admin Says:

    Frank Partnoy, Wait

    Part of Partnoy’s work cites:’that our psychological
    development lies not solely in our brains but also along
    the nerve that serves as a two lane track for signals
    between out brains and the rest of our body. The 10th
    cranial nerve known as the vagal nerve originates in
    the medulla oblongata and travels to the lungs, heart
    and digestive system.’

    He describes Two systems of mind
    System 1—automatic and involuntary
    System 2—effortful and involuntary.

    Kahneman says they are not physically real but a
    useful metaphor. Partnoy observes and includes
    discussions of checklists, procrastination, and
    panic situations. The central part of good decision
    making during any of these is a person’s ability to
    manage delay.

    He cites Sternberg: “the essence of intelligence
    would seem to be in knowing when to think and act
    quickly, and knowing when to think and act slowly.”

    The most insightful writing about decision making
    has addressed delay indirectly by focusing on how
    humans deal with uncertainty about the future….
    “there is a tendency in our planning to confuse the
    unfamiliar with the improbable. The contingency
    we have not considered seriously looks strange;
    what looks strange is thought impossible; what is
    improbable need not be considered seriously.
    These unconsidered contingencies are
    unknown unknowns Rumsfeld
    Unquantifable uncertainty Frank Knight
    Black swans Nassim Taleb

    Do not jump to firm conclusions about the unknown
    We like to believe there is wisdom in our snap
    decisions, and sometimes there is. But true
    wisdom and judgment come from understanding
    our limitations when it comes to thinking about our future
  2. site admin Says:

    BOOK: Dan Ariely, “The Honest Truth about Dishonesty:
    How we lie to everyone– especially ourselves, HarperCollins

    Most people, the author reveals, are dishonest at some points
    with others and with ourselves. He states that it is part of our
    nature– from breaking “fuzzy rules” to downloading stuff
    illegally, to cheating to maximize things selfishly for ourselves.

    Ariely lists factors that increase dishonesty–
    1-ability to rationalize
    2-conflicts of interest
    4-doing one immoral act makes it seem easier to do another
    5-being depleted by demands on our time, attention and emotions
    6-having others benefit from our dishonesty
    7-observing others behave dishonesty
    8-being in a culture that gives examples of people getting away
    with dishonesty.

    Four things that encourage positive behaviors
    a-pledging to be honest
    b-being required to sign right at the beginning of a document
    c-having moral reminders
    d-having supervisors enforce honest behaviors

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