20 Quotes that Make You Realize the World Doesn’t Make Sense

By on November 1, 2016

Want to get your rose-colored glasses blown off your nose?

Daniel Kahneman is an Israeli-American psychologist notable for his work on the psychology of judgment and decision-making, as well as behavioral economics. He was awarded the 2002 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. He is the author of Thinking Fast and Slow.

Listen to his perspective. Whether you agree or disagree, it’s fascinating to consider:

  1. “A reliable way to make people believe in falsehoods is frequent repetition, because familiarity is not easily distinguished from truth. Authoritarian institutions and marketers have always known this fact.”
  2. “Our comforting conviction that the world makes sense rests on a secure foundation: our almost unlimited ability to ignore our ignorance.”
  3. “Money does not buy you happiness, but lack of money certainly buys you misery.”
  4. “I have always believed that scientific research is another domain where a form of optimism is essential to success: I have yet to meet a successful scientist who lacks the ability to exaggerate the importance of what he or she is doing, and I believe that someone who lacks a delusional sense of significance will wilt in the face of repeated experiences of multiple small failures and rare successes, the fate of most researchers.”
  5. “A general ‘law of least effort’ applies to cognitive as well as physical exertion. The law asserts that if there are several ways of achieving the same goal, people will eventually gravitate to the least demanding course of action. In the economy of action, effort is a cost, and the acquisition of skill is driven by the balance of benefits and costs. Laziness is built deep into our nature.”
  6. “If you care about being thought credible and intelligent, do not use complex language where simpler language will do.”
  7. “Odd as it may seem, I am my remembering self, and the experiencing self, who does my living, is like a stranger to me.”
  8. “The confidence that individuals have in their beliefs depends mostly on the quality of the story they can tell about what they see, even if they see little.”
  9. “A happy mood loosens the control of [caution and analysis] over our performance: when in a good mood, people become more intuitive and more creative, but also less vigilant and more prone to logical errors.”
  10. “We are prone to overestimate how much we understand about the world and to underestimate the role of chance in events.”
  11. “We can be blind to the obvious, and we are also blind to our blindness.”
  12. “The illusion that we understand the past fosters overconfidence in our ability to predict the future.”
  13. “Acquisition of skills requires a regular environment, an adequate opportunity to practice, and rapid and unequivocal feedback about the correctness of thoughts and actions.”
  14. “Jonathan Haidt said in another context, ‘The emotional tail wags the rational dog’.”
  15. “Declarations of high confidence mainly tell you that an individual has constructed a coherent story in his mind, not necessarily that the story is true.”
  16. “Before an issue is discussed, all members of the committee should be asked to write a very brief summary of their position. This procedure makes good use of the value of the diversity of knowledge and opinion in the group. The standard practice of open discussion gives too much weight to the opinions of those who speak early and assertively, causing others to line up behind them.”
  17. “The experiencing self does not have a voice. The remembering self is sometimes wrong, but it is the one that keeps score and governs what we learn from living, and it is the one that makes decisions. What we learn from the past is to maximize the qualities of our future memories, not necessarily of our future experience. This is the tyranny of the remembering self.”
  18. “The easiest way to increase happiness is to control your use of time. Can you find more time to do the things you enjoy doing?”
  19. “Experts who acknowledge the full extent of their ignorance may expect to be replaced by more confident competitors, who are better able to gain the trust of clients. An unbiased appreciation of uncertainty is a cornerstone of rationality–but it is not what people and organizations want.”
  20. “The idea of mental energy is more than a mere metaphor. The nervous system consumes more glucose than most other parts of the body, and effortful mental activity appears to be especially expensive in the currency of glucose.”
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