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GUT VERSUS THE BRAIN

We like to imagine that reason controls our decision-making. In fact clinical psychology has determined that we make judgements by instinct and emotion, then apply reason to excuse, explain and affirm our gut choices. The brain is in service to our gut.  

 

 

Ever since Plato spoke of Philosopher Kings, humankind has fancied itself a rational being, capable of making discerning choices based on reason. But in 1793 the philosopher David Hume penned A Treatise of Human Nature which asserted that passion not reason governs human behavior, and new perspectives in psychology strongly agree. Moral judgements by individuals are based on rapid intuitive emotional responses derived from the physiology of the brain, and reason serves to rationalize the results.

The implications of this perspective remind us that in our political discourse, no amount of reasoned arguments can carry the day, voters and policy makers are still reacting with their intuition. In fact it is potent in politics to hear a candidate speaking candidly because unvarnished talk feels more like our own inner feelings. We all suffer from prejudice, pettiness, resentment and fear. However, in choosing our leaders, should we not aspire to higher ideals? Just because someone speaks in base terms, does not qualify them to lead. Leave that to entertainers and court jesters.

In America, the media often describes a personable political candidate as "someone you can have a beer with" (George Bush, even though he was an abstaining alcoholic).

Perhaps leadership should lift us all to higher aspirations. 

BOOKS
The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidt
Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior by Leonard Mlodinow