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Lazy brain

Updated: Jan 21

How we take the easy way when processing information

We want to promote communication, freedom of speech and human connection. Sadly, these are aspirations in this day and age as we are more disconnected than ever. All of these require that we have open and inquisitive minds. It requires for us to take a risk and listen. No drama, no victimhood, no poor me because there are different perspectives and ideas. Can we do this? Well, first we have to want it and want it bad! You see our brain, while an exceptional organ, is lazy. This should not be much of a surprise as in general, we do not want to exert more effort than we need to in order to get something accomplished. We already talked about confirmation bias:

Confirmation bias is the tendency of human beings to actively search for, interpret, and retain information that matches their preconceived notions and beliefs. (X)

This pattern of information processing is one of the products of our lazy brain. It is too much work to look at facts that do not support or ideas or way of life and then make them fit within our beliefs (or vice versa). Not easy to do. The "split" created from the difference between facts, beliefs and action creates cognitive dissonance, and that experience is very uncomfortable for humans. We are holding two beliefs or values or a belief and an action that are incompatible with each other. Some examples of cognitive dissonance include:

  1. Smoking when you know it is bad for you

  2. Not exercising when you know exercise if good for you

  3. Giving into peer pressure and doing or not doing something that goes against your beliefs

So, what do we do? We can either continue to live in our little unchallenged bubble by keeping our distance from anything or anyone that may think differently or take a walk in the wild side and expose ourselves (figuratively) to different people and ideas.

We generally opt for the first option as we are all "cognitive misers." Yes, "miser" comes from "misery" and a miser " a person who is reluctant to spend, sometimes to the point of forgoing even basic comforts and some necessities..."  (X) 

What that means in how we use our lazy brains:

"Usually, people do not think rationally or cautiously but use cognitive shortcuts to make inferences and form judgments. These shortcuts include the use of schemas, scripts, stereotypes, and other simplified