The Elephant in the Brain; hidden motives in Everyday Lifestyle by Kevin Simler and Robin Hanson notes (ellie

The Elephant in the Brain: Hidden Motives in Everyday Life by Kevin Simler

Introduction:

elephant in the room: An important issue that people are reluctant to acknowledge or address; a social Taboo

elephant in the brain: An important but unacknowledged feature of how our minds work; an introspective taboo

“Human beings are primates, and primates are political animals. Our brains, therefore, are designed not just to hunt and gather, but also to help us get ahead socially, often via deception and self-deception. But while we may be self-interested schemers, we benefit by pretending otherwise. The less we know about our own ugly motives, the better – and thus we don’t like to talk or even think about the extent of our selfishness. This is “the elephant in the brain.” Such an introspective taboo makes it hard for us to think clearly about our nature and the explanations for our behavior. The aim of this book, then, is to confront our hidden motives directly – to track down the darker, unexamined corners of our psyches and blast them with floodlights. Then, once everything is clearly visible, we can work to better”

-Kevin Simler The Elephant in the Brain: Hidden Motives in Everyday Life, by Kevin Simler and Robin Hanson, Oxford University Press, 2018, pp. 34

People in developed countries consume way too much medicine- doctor visits, drugs, diagnostic tests, and so forth, Large randomized studies, for example, find that people given free healthcare consume a lot more medicine (relative to an unsubsidized group) yet don’t end up noticeably healthier.

non-medical interventions- such as efforts to alleviate stress or improve diet, exercise, sleep, or air quality- have much bigger apparent effects on health

“Introduction.” The Elephant in the Brain: Hidden Motives in Everyday Life, by Kevin Simler and Robin Hanson, Oxford University Press, 2018, p. 1.

Patience are often easily satisfied with the appearance of good medical care, and show little interest in digging beneath the surface

one study found that only 8% of patients who undergo a dangerous heart surgery were willing to pay $50 to learn the different death rates for that very surgery at nearby hospitals.

“Introduction.” The Elephant in the Brain: Hidden Motives in Everyday Life, by Kevin Simler and Robin Hanson, Oxford University Press, 2018, p. 2

Medicine

Americans today spend more than 2.8 trillion dollars a year on medicine.

As humans, our instinct is to show others we care in an instance when someone falls ill in some fashion. it starts with our ancestors, in which our caring nature probably evolved.

Crucially, our distant ancestors didn’t have much in the way of effective therapeutic medicine. But, caring for the sick and injured was still an important activity.

The difference between the medical or healing practices used by our ancestors than in modern medicine, is today, medicine is very effective. However modern medicine works in the way that we lose the importance of showing our instinctive caring nature, because things like vaccines and pharmaceuticals simplify the process, so it’s not to say that these forms of healing are harmful or ineffective, it is simply we lose a part of our caring nature through these things.

“Medicine.” The Elephant in the Brain: Hidden Motives in Everyday Life, by Kevin Simler and Robin Hanson, Oxford University Press, 2018, pp. 241–302.

Religion

Do Beliefs explain Behaviors?

Beliefs aren’t always in the “drivers seat” instead, they’re often better modeled as symptoms of the underlying incentives, which are frequently social rather than physiological. This is the religious elephant in the brain: we don’t worship simply because we believed, instead, we worship (and believe) because it helps us as social creatures.

Supernatural Beliefs

The value of holding certain beliefs comes not from acting on them, but from convincing others that you believe them. This is especially true of religious beliefs. It is useful to believe that god is always watching – and that he knows everything , even our private deeds and innermost thoughts and will judge us with perfect justice.

“Religion.” The Elephant in the Brain: Hidden Motives in Everyday Life, by Kevin Simler and Robin Hanson, Oxford University Press, 2018, pp. 261–281.

Religion allows humans to create a pathway between what is considered to be right and wrong, it serves as a form of guidance, and possibly has many beneficial factors, for it can allow one to have a set structure on how to better themselves

“Religion.” The Elephant in the Brain: Hidden Motives in Everyday Life, by Kevin Simler and Robin Hanson, Oxford University Press, 2018, pp. 261–281.

Politics

“On the face of it, the reason that people participate in politics is to improve the world in some way. However, most of us engage in politics in a way which is emotional, poorly informed relative to the strength of claims that we make and we are generally unwilling to compromise on political issues. These facts are better explained if politics is a way of signalling affiliation to a ‘tribe’ of like-minded people than as a way of actually trying to improve the world.”

“Polotics.” The Elephant in the Brain: Hidden Motives in Everyday Life, by Kevin Simler and Robin Hanson, Oxford University Press, 2018, pp. 320–325

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