How The Mind Works
Now in order to illustrate how the mind works, do the test below:
So how did you do? Did you get the number of passes right? Did you see the gorilla? This test was done several times to different groups of people and the results are that 50% of the people reported NOT seeing the gorilla.
You see, your mind works very selectively and tends to focus on certain things, while not paying attention to other things. The most extreme example of this is called inattentional blindness, which is demonstrated by the experiment above.
The mind has a limited capacity for paying attention. In some individuals it can be greater and in some smaller, but the end result is that it is always limited.
You need to be aware of this, when thinking and coming up with conclusions. You need to keep in mind that your perception is limited and so the best way to approach problems is to keep an open mind.
How You Interpret Reality
The way that humans understand reality involves taking something that exists in the outside world and interpreting it in order to come up with a certain conclusion.
You start off with your senses (sight, touch, smell, sound, taste) taking in different things from the outside. These are then put through some filters (such as personality (meta-programs), emotions, values and principles) to form your perception of these things.
These perceptions then serve as inputs into your thinking process. This involves the synthesization of your perception of reality. Based on this synthesization you come up with ideas and conclusions.
Kahneman divides the processes that the brain uses to form thoughts and to come to conclusions into two:
System 1: which is fast, intuitive, subconscious, where your emotions serve as a major source of input and which often uses heuristics to come to conclusions.
System 2: which is slow, but more logical and uses reflection in order to consciously come up with thougths and conclusions.
The main difference between the two systems is that System 1 is intuitive, while System 2 is deliberative. The two systems are of course linked and feed each other. System 1 especially relies on associative memory, which then forms the core of heuristics, and fast decision making. Here feelings and impressions are the main inputs.
System 2 proceeds in a slower, more step by step fashion. It also more actively engages your long-term memory and searches through the different things you have stored there.
System 1 is more prone to making errors, but this tendency can be lessened through experience and deliberate practice. That’s where the 10 000 hour rule described by Malcolm Gladwell in his book “Outliers” comes from (the rule is based on work done by psychology researcher Anders Ericsson).
Experience lets people automate certain tasks for which normal lay people usually need deliberate thinking. Let’s use the example of chess. Chess masters use System 1 when playing chess, since after so many hours of playing and practice, they have developed a skilled intuition and heuristics. On the other hand, normal people use System 2 for playing chess and have to deliberately think about the moves.
Experts (whether in science, music, or sports) have a different way of thinking and doing things, which they developed through countless hours of practice. They see patterns based on past experience, which makes them much more likely to be accurate.
Experts can use heuristics to their great advantage, while a person who is not an expert in that particular area is more prone to fall prey to logical fallacies. However this does not mean that being an expert in one area prevents you from falling for similar logical fallacies in other areas.