Cognitive Thrift 11 – Neuroeconomics
Scott Douglas Jacobsen & Rick Rosner
May 21, 2017
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Scott Douglas Jacobsen: It is differentiated from neuroeconomics, which looks at decision-making in general with regards to economics in addition to the brain basis of that behaviour. For instance, one researcher, Paul Zak, isolated oxytocin as the bonding hormone and applies this to various areas, but that’s far apart from this. It does not get that technical, but does provide some thought experiments with respect to having a brain and how that might turn out with the standard perspective of an evolutionary perspective.
Rick Rosner: Yea – now, also, there’s a different set of considerations or costs, where because we evolved organisms. Our brains don’t always tell us the pure unadulterated truth. There are the issues with Plato’s Cave, just the limitations of perception and there are some built-in biases. And when you look at matters of faith, there are a complete set of possible faith-based cognitive biases, where evolution wants – we are most effective as reproducing organisms when we’re in certain emotional states.
Evolution, as evolved beings we are most effective when attentive, because inattentive beings in a dangerous, complicated world get killed due to error. By shorthand, we can talk about what evolution wants us to be, but keeping in mind that that’s a teleological statement and evolution is not teleological.
Evolution does not really want anything, but just for shorthand we are most evolutionarily effective when we have certain attitudes and those attitudes might be optimistic and happy but not so happy. If an entire species were just happy regardless of situation, that species would be too complacent to be effective at continuing itself. You can see that in people’s lives in the stories that we follow.
The story ends at happily ever after, which is fine but nobody is happy throughout the story. People go through periods of being miserable, and being happy for a second, and there’s just turn arounds in the plot. You can’t be happy all the time because then you’re not motivated to take on the tasks that evolution wants us to take on.
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American Television Writer
Scott Douglas Jacobsen
Editor-in-Chief, In-Sight Publishing
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