People aren’t rational

One of the most strange things about life is that everyone thinks that they’re rational—but they aren’t. We think we all have free will to make rational decisions, but in reality our decisions are either made emotionally or have some deeper subconscious motive that is difficult to put a finger on. For example the colour of the ballot box can greatly affect a voter’s decision if they are unsure about how to vote – yet the point of an election is that it should be a way to represent what people really, consciously want (well, perhaps not with the EU elections to a pseudo-Parliament but that’s a wholly different matter).

But I think it’s plain that we have never, and never will, have absolute free will. We may be more likely to think about our actions than animals, but we are still essentially governed by evolutionary instincts, even if we think are acting rationally.

Of course it may be that there’s no such thing as free will at all; perhaps we’re all just pre-programmed machines, or even characters in a computer game God created for his own personal entertainment. In any case, as we learn more about how our decisions are predominantly made unconsciously, and as businessmen use this information to their advantage, it would seem as if free will is likely to decline dramatically in the future. Perhaps it will be entirely gone in a couple of generations – if it ever existed in the first place.

Scary.

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4 thoughts on “People aren’t rational

  1. We do have free will to choose,as you know for every positive there is a negative, to want to do the right thing at al times is prety scarey stuff,we can be easily persuaded by the negative away from the positive and pretend to have made a positive choice when we know in our heart of hearts we have not.Positive has had more enemies than negative because positive is demanding work and negative is easy.

    • Thanks for the comment. It’s certainly true what you’re saying about positive and negative. I’m not saying I know that free will doesn’t exist, as none of us can know for sure whether it’s an illusion or not. The point I was making is that psychologists are increasingly discovering that much of our decision-making is done unconciously, and businesses and other organisations are using this knowledge to think up tactics that will make people more likely to buy their products/follow their cause etc. So it’s likely that conscious decision-making, and hence free will, will diminish over time. Of course it may be that this knowledge will enhance free will, as the scientists will use the information to everyone else’s advantage. You can’t say for sure what will happen in the future.

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  3. I agree about advertising having an effect, thats why they spend so much on it,What we are witnessing now in the same way is the promotion of bad idealism to replace good and make good ideas seem bad,and it is working too.People think if government say its ok, its ok,or even big companies.Its the sheep that fall for whatever does not make demands on their power of spiritual might to resist.They think if stuff goes wrong they are off the hook and blame the Government.Easyer to be wrong when somebody tells one it is right.

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