“How We Decide”

I have this fascination with the decision making process and how it affects the creative process. Have you ever been in a creative situation and no matter what happens you can’t get there. When this happens I find myself recalling a phrase that a psychology major in college turned me onto “reverse the obvious”. It’s amazing what the results can be. Try it sometime.

This brings me to my latest post, the Sunday New Time’s article on Jonah Lehrer, Mind Games. See the excerpt below. SWJ

Questions for Jonah Lehrer
Published: December 12, 2008
Your forthcoming book, “How We Decide,” is the latest entry in a growing field that might be called the science of decision-making. How do you explain the fascination with decisions?

For the first time, neuroscience can be applied to everyday life. The research on the neurotransmitter dopamine, for instance, can teach us why we play slot machines and overuse our credit cards.

Michael Prince for The New York Times

Are you a decisive person?
No, I’m pathologically indecisive. I wrote the book because I would spend 10 minutes in the cereal aisle choosing between Honey Nut Cheerios and Apple Cinnamon Cheerios.

Maybe indecisiveness is the price of being an intelligent human being who understands that actions have consequences.
That would be a little too self-congratulatory for me. Indecisiveness means you’re not listening carefully enough to your emotions, which know what you really want and could be whispering, “Go for the Honey Nut Cheerios.”

How is that idea any different from the gut decision-making that Malcolm Gladwelldescribes in “Blink”?
Fast-blink decisions are not always useful. The brain is full of different tools, and you don’t want to use a hammer if the problem requires more than a blunt hit.


The above article led me to John Lehrer’s blog and his post on an event that is going on in NYC. See below.

Artists, Scientists and the NYAS

This sounds like a fantastic event, a genuine dialogue between artists and scientists:

The taste of a ripe tomato, the hook of a catchy song, the scent of a lover’s hair. What is it, exactly, that drives us to seek these things again and again?Neuroscientists who study perception are starting to discover the inner workings of the sensory mind. Starting on Monday at the New York Academy of Sciences, researchers and artists will team up to explore this new research in a series of talks called Science of the Five Senses. Their conversations will raise a question for the amateur hedonist: If we had a better understanding of the signals our bodies send to our brains, might we take more pleasure from them?

The academy, which was founded in 1817 and now has a membership of more than 25,000 scientists, has recently reached out to the general public with its Science and the City lectures.

“I wanted our live events to be at the intersection of science and culture,” said Adrienne Burke, an editor at the academy who conceived the new series. “That’s how we ended up with a singer and a food writer and an ex-magician. There is a deeper and more common connection between science and art than people tend to recognize.”

For “Science of the Five Senses” Ms. Burke asked the scientists to invite artists to explain their work. “I’m used to booking scientists,” she said. “But I was amazed that all the artists said yes right away, even Rosanne Cash.”

Unfortunately, I won’t be able to make it to the first event on Monday, which features Ranulfo Romo and the filmmaker Kun Chang. But if anyone makes it to the discussion, please put your take in the comments below.

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