Think like a freak

People make decisions every day, ranging from supposedly less consequential ones to maybe even tougher life changing ones. It is for those big ones that we usually weigh our options out, think of consequences or any other such processes to decision-making. We think through questions we need to ask ourselves, but how do we know if we’re always asking ourselves the right questions? We think of how people may respond to our choices, but are we really making the right assumptions? There is pressure to know the answers, or to be the one to have a solution, have it figured out even and not just be a know-nothing.

The truth however,  is most of the time we get so pressurized to solve the problem or make a decision that we don’t really make the time to take it from the start –  which would be the acceptance of not knowing. Stephen J. Dubner, co-author of Think Like a Freak, says the first step to changing our thinking patterns is to say “I don’t know.” Dubner says these are the three words that are not spoken enough and should be said more often to acknowledge not knowing. This may seem like an obvious enough start to a decision -making process.With the constant pressure to have an answer, people seem to spend more time pretending to know the answer than trying to find one. In times of crisis they say this is the way to go, but is there any evidence of that option working, have they really explored all of their other options? A good scientific researcher begins by trying to figure out questions that they do not know the answers to.

On that note, we can come upon a new approach. An approach where in order to figure out what we need to know, we build an agenda for a few trial and runs, collect feedback, opinions, etc. And the more data we collect, as opposed to comparing the decisions of other people, the more effectively produced is the decision.  We all work on some form of instincts as well, letting our intuition guide us; and though that is a skill to be appreciated in itself, at the end of the day we are human beings swayed by our biases. There is also the fact that we usually turn to and respond to authority figures; people who seem to express some amount of power or know-how and whose solutions we try to imitate. But what we don’t count on is that these are people who do not really respond in the same way our thinking process unfolds.

It’s important to think of the other end of our decisions as well, the way it affects others or how they may react. Dubner speaks of finding a balance with all of this. That is to be as scientific as possible, experimenting and processing feedback; but also to know that what maybe the right solution to you may not be the right solution to rest of the crowd.

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