August 2012

Theory-Induced Blindness…

Today I decided to visit Seattle (to see an amazing “King Tut” Exhibit at the Pacific Science Center” and on the way back I happen to listen to Daniel Kahneman’s book “Thinking Fast and Slow”. I have written about this book already. The book is an audio book and I keep listening to it while driving or hiking… I love the ideas and I love how Dan Kahneman presents them. Today, I happened to listen about Daniel Bernoulli’s theory about economic utility and how this theory, which one can easily show to be wrong, had been considered to be correct one for years. (I had no idea that Bernoulli dubbed in economics in addition to everything else he has done). Kahneman calls this phenomenon “Theory-induced blindness” – when we accepted a theory and we do not take theory the facts that might contradict it. Kahneman presents this “Theorey-induced blindness” concept as something¬† new. However, I recently, happen to read “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” by Kuhn. While listening to Kahneman the pieces of a puzzle started falling into place for me. Kahneman was talking about most of us being “raised” inside a specific paradigm (or “normal science” – as Kuhn calls it). We got so used to it and we accept it as given – we have been socialized into it, that we stop questioning it. Thus we become blind – we do not see 0r disregard things that might contradict the paradigm we are used to. Kahneman also refers to it as “What we see is what it is”… Kuhn calls is normal science… However, as soon as we begin to question the paradigm, we might be able to look at it differently and see things that contradict it. For example, there are many cases in science, when we wonder “How come nobody noticed before”… How come Galileo was the first one to see the features of the moon and notice that is wasn’t “perfect” or to question the laws of motion by Aristotle? I think the power of thinkers like Galielo is to be open to seeing things that are there, but that contradict the common paradigm or at least question it… The more I listen to Kahneman’s book, the more it clarifies what I know from other areas about how we think… It is a very amazing read.

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