Rationally irrational - RSA

Rationally irrational


  • Social brain

Yesterday in writing about my ideas regarding neurological reflexivity I highlighted the work of behavioural economists in demonstrating the weakness of the homo economicus model, or the myth of rational man. This is the idea that citizens with perfect knowledge will behave in a perfectly rational way.

Of course in the real world people do not have perfect information, but are often bemused by the flood of this imperfect information. Secondly, behavioural economists have pointed out the seemingly irrational nature of the decisions we make based on this partial (in both senses) information.

There has been a massive explosion in books on this field of study, the latest is by Dan Ariely discussed in today’s Guardian.

The relevance of this to my fundamental argument is that these economists are not focusing on what we think, but as I said yesterday, how we think. What are the psychological and neurological processes that affect our decisions? And that is why this field of study forms such an important component of my thinking on how we become better at dealing with the challenges of progress. By understanding our decision making processes, by recognising that they are not entirely rational as we would sometimes like to believe, we can begin to make better choices.

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