The Joys Of Catching Yourself Out.

The first instinct is definitely not always the correct one

By McGeddon — Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Your instincts are just…they’re not good.

A little over a month ago I watched this video about survivorship bias. In the video, a teacher shows his class a picture of a bomber from WWII (shown above) that’s been marked with red dots to show bullet damage. The data was gathered from planes after they returned from their missions. The teacher then asks the class a question; where should the aircraft designers prioritise putting armour on the planes?

Instinct vs Reason.

Even if you weren’t completely fooled by the question, chances are that your very first instinct was to armour the points where the bullets had hit the planes as well. Then, after a little more thought, you figured out that the opposite is true; if the planes were still able to return home after being damaged in these areas, it’s clearly safe not to armour them heavily. Instead, the focus should be on the areas which catastrophically damage the planes.

A reasonable approach.

Now imagine if reason had handled the situation instead of instinct. Your instincts would still have picked up on your partner’s tone, facial expression and body language. That all happens much instantly. But now, reason gets to figure out what to do about it.

From each according to their ability.

I’m not suggesting that one day you’ll be able to have a perfectly calm and reasonable conversation when your feelings are hurt or when somebody is treating you unfairly. Anger is a natural part of the human condition.

Race. Politics. Culture. Sometimes other things. Almost always polite.

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