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System 1 vs. System 2

Just putting this here for future reference:

“System 1” in “Social Psychology” parlance is your “unconscious” or “emotional self” (or perhaps “ego”), whereas “System 2” is your “conscious” or “intellectual self” (or “id”).

Most humans generally believe, or should I say, would prefer to believe that it is “System 2” that controls “System 1”.

Reading the excellent “Thinking Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman (as well as a number of other books on the subject) it is pretty clear that we’ve got it completely wrong. Rather in the vast majority of situations it is in fact “System 1” that is running the show and “System 2” is at best providing verification for what “System 1” is doling out. This makes a lot of sense when one consider “System 2” is slow, requires effort, and even (according to studies), induces the equivalent of pain to actual use.

In social situations it appears “System 2″‘s function is to really provide “cover” (aka “window dressing”) for “System 1″‘s already predetermined notions. That is, “System 2” isn’t really functioning from an analytical sense and providing “well thought out” responses, but rather supplying plausible, but not necessarily accurate, explanations for what “System 1” has already determined (albeit perhaps wrongly and certainly in many cases arbitrarily).

This is why intellectuals (which I would for argument sake have to include myself), don’t necessarily come out with better answers than (so-called) non-intellectuals. The “intellect” isn’t really often providing “value-add”, just better obfuscation. Worse it inclines said intellectual to believe they have a better understanding than they do (ie: be more damn sure of themselves).

This isn’t really news if one is a parent. One watches their children not necessarily improve their judgement, with age, but rather get better at justifying their judgement even if it’s just as wrong as it was before.

In fact I think the true difference between children and adults, and sadly this includes myself, is not necessarily better judgement (though experience does finally get through or rock heads eventually) but rather is their competence at windowing dress their arbitrary already predetermined positions.

That is, they are better at dishing out bull shit.

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