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Learning how brain works improves decision making


Voting is over. Choices were made, sometimes at the last split-second. How were these decisions made?

In an “ideal” democracy (republic for us): voting citizens, 100 percent of them, would be well informed with sufficient accurate information, to make temporary adjustments (knowing that the future will require new adjustments), after analyzing and discussing conflicting needs, goals and resources (recognizing that diversity requires give and take), in a peaceful manner (void of threats and violence), so that all stakeholders (citizens, the vulnerable, animals, the environment, etc.), find some modicum of benefit by living in that societal/governmental group (city, state, nation or other).

Each election should contribute to the evolution of a better society, which responds to changing needs and conditions to promote the safety, health, pursuit of happiness and general welfare of all, whew. Is this what just happened?

Two basic rules from a 1933 book, “Science and Sanity,” state that (1) you are always misunderstood, and (2) you always misunderstand others. The human brain is built such that we always deal with partial information and self-deception is a rule-ofthumb.

Modern investigators describe more fully how the human brain filters information/ data. Much significant information is not even noticed and the chooser is left with gaping holes of naivete. Other information is noticed and then mistakenly pushed aside as non-significant or given unrealistic importance. And there are total distortions of information, sometimes externally by manipulations from others (partial or full lies?) and sometimes internally by your own brain as its pleasure and fear areas pulse with unique interpretations of survival.

So now, we have blundered through another election and face varieties of consequences. All voters operated on varying degrees of misinformation, misunderstanding and deception. What could make it better next time?

A suggestion is for us to become better aware of how we deceive ourselves into our beliefs. Read or watch documentaries about the mechanisms of the brain. Study how beliefs develop from such limited/manipulated input. Perhaps this will lead toward a better understanding of yourself, others, societal development and even the survival of our species. It’s worth a shot.

Gene Johnson

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