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June 07, 2012


Brook Reams


If you haven't read "Thinking Fast and Slow" by Daniel Kahneman, it's a refreshing perspective on decision making and the underlying fundamentals that drive this constant process. He identifies two different "systems" for decision making that are running in the brain. System 1 always gets to go first. Yeap, it's the one that kept us from being eaten (fast thinking) but isn't capable of statitics-based decisions (slow thinking).

System 2 is kind of lazy and is capable of handling statistical decisions, although usually not very well since it's strongly influenced by what System 1 has concluded.

So, we may have the computing means to crunch a lot of data and find patterns that are insightful, but acting on that (making decisions) is about being human and that's another game entirely with altogether different rules. Daniel provides some clues about how to improve human decision making, but knowing you shouldn't make decisions with the first system doesn't help you stop using it as its instinctual and first in line.

When we move into social policy and very complex systems, well then its millions of people who have to become comfortable in making decisions differently, not just a few executives. That's a lot of interita.

If system 1 is defined by genetic processes and evolutionary change, then I humble submit the time required for structural changes is on the order of 5 to 10 millenia for these adaptations to make a difference.

If System 1 is not entirely genetic, but more like a cultural habit, then changing the habit may only take a half a millenium or so. (I think 500 years is a good metric for deep social changes to become dominant. Recall the history of "constitutional" rights starting with the Magna Carta, and how long it has taken for that cultural idea to spread widely.)

I suspect that system 1 won't change quickly.

Onward ...

Chuck Hollis


Thanks for the comment. More than a few people have recommended the book to me, so I guess I'll go read it now.

Me? I don't want to wait 500 years for deep social changes :)

Thanks again

-- Chuck

Dick Sullivan


Some good quotes. Here's one of my favorites that I think applies here as well:

“ Faced with the choice between changing one’s mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everybody gets busy on the proof.”

John Kenneth Galbraith

The comments to this entry are closed.

Chuck Hollis

  • Chuck Hollis
    SVP, Oracle Converged Infrastructure Systems

    Chuck now works for Oracle, and is now deeply embroiled in IT infrastructure.

    Previously, he was with VMware for 2 years, and EMC for 18 years before that, most of them great.

    He enjoys speaking to customer and industry audiences about a variety of technology topics, and -- of course -- enjoys blogging.

    Chuck lives in Vero Beach, FL with his wife and four dogs when he's not traveling. In his spare time, Chuck is working on his second career as an aging rock musician.

    Warning: do not ever buy him a drink when there is a piano nearby.

    Note: these are my personal views, and aren't reviewed or approved by my employer.
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