So rational, so boring

We are advised to behave in a rational manner. Apply logic and science, say experts, so you do not fall into the pit of probabilities and irrational decision-making. That’s because irrational thoughts enter our brains and affect our actions more often than we’d admit, say experts who point out that irrationality seems to carry plenty of drawbacks. But this gives overworked brains some rest.

Human beings are wired to prioritise safety and security. But the world has changed rapidly over millennia, while we haven’t been paying attention to upgrading the brain’s capacity to deal with new situations and challenges. Says Rankin, a clinical psychologist, ‘We are basically still Neanderthal, focused on survival and safety and living in the present. Our brains haven’t adapted to a much more complex world.’ Moreover, the human brain takes up more than 20% of our energy, and Rankin says because critical thinking can be exhausting, we rely on simplistic shortcuts.

When we resort to shortcuts, we come to accept probabilities as facts, and delude ourselves that we can multitask. But scientists say that we cannot really multitask, we merely switch between tasks. Hence, act on impulse and do not behave rationally, always.

While irrationality can trip us up, it can also fuel creativity and innovation, says Pareen Sehat, a   registered clinical counsellor based in Vancouver, Canada. Which is why being too rational could be stultifying and boring.


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