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Introduction to Week 4

Welcome to week 4

Psychologists often seem to paint people in a pretty poor light. It is certainly newsworthy, and often very informative, when an experiment shows that people make inconsistent choices, or we find that people do not really know what they believe.

But, of course, people are actually spectacularly good at dealing with an enormously complex environment. We may smile ruefully when we start to realise how little we understand the world around us; how little mental depth lies behind our thinking about air-conditioners, electricity, grammar, how our bodies work and so on, and it is rather shocking to discover that the sense we have of seeing a rich, colourful and detailed visual world around us is an illusion.

But the real surprise is that such limited mental machinery allows us to navigate hugely complex lives remarkably effectively. The real question is not ‘why are we so foolish?’ but ‘why are we so spectacularly smart?’

Hopefully, that is reassuring!


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The Mind is Flat: The Shocking Shallowness of Human Psychology

The University of Warwick

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