Flaws in Human Mentality

A detailed discussion about flaws in human mentality exists that looks at the brain itself. The human, mammalian, and reptilian brain structures are examined for their contribution to our flawed thinking. The 3 brains works for us in some situations but in the 3 brains conflict with each other. Current scientific consensus seems to be that the triune brain concept is not accurate. Suffice to say, most people experience conflicts between different ideas such as altruism versus utilitarianism or collectivism vs strategic prudence.

The history of humankind provides a record about humanity. Multiple civilizations, empires, communities, tribes, and various parties has left a historical trail. A record is stamped upon the enormity of human activity across thousands of years. Look into the record and look at today, despite technology, irrigation, refined food production, and the ability to travel to space, the evidence is clear. Humans overall are flawed.

That is probably not a surprise, but what is odd is how often we forget that we are flawed. Humans have a seamless ability to operate at times as if we are incapable of mistake and error. Michael Lewis has written a book titled the Undoing Project in which he discusses the human penchant for blind spots. I have the book plan to read it soon. Mr. Lewis was interviewed a few months ago on Fareed Zakaria’s GPS describing his overall synopsis. If I remember the conversation correctly, he seems to suggest that artificial intelligence and related technologies will help humans make better decisions. Part of the purpose of technologies like those help humans compensate for innate human weakness.

I doubt that it will work. Skepticism is not a reason to give up but gives me pause to think that perhaps the approaches for dealing with human flaws are probably the wrong approaches. Perhaps there is too high an expectation in these methods. At the same time, humans still have a preference for single, strong leaders with all the answers. History shows some success with that but also many problems with this approach as well. Again, the pattern is one of flawed progress throughout the course of time.

Fortunately, while humans are flawed, we are fortunate to be able to recognize error. Outcomes do not always correspond to plans and effort. Success doesn’t always last and may open the way to new failures. Though humanity fails in many ways, we endure long enough to try again. Recovery is one of the best concepts we can understand. When we fail, working through an appropriate process of recovery is a major element in adapting in such a way to create an opportunity to improve in a more reliable direction.

Humans have excellent abilities to describe error, flaws, imperfection due to our great and numerous experiences with such concepts. By definition, we lack the language to adequately describe perfection with our closest analog being the concept of excellence. All things considered, excellence will do, but is there a better way to cross the chasm from more frequent error to a more sustained state of wider excellence?

I conclude with reasons why achieving this remains insurmountable. Based on my observations there are a few key reasons why greater improvement in multiple domains of human activity remain elusive. Briefly, they are impatience, urgency, instant gratification, and the preference for quick answers, results, early evidence of success. Ironically, these traits or dispositions often fail and the more time is spent anyway, but our cognitive biases usually covers this up. The sense of human mortality feeds into this as well which adds to the elusive nature of continuous, solid excellence.

The ability to regularly control the right emotions (without becoming a robot), slow down, and think more broadly are steps in the right direction. Another good step is the ability to do things and be aware of flaws and be willing to improve rather than stagnate on the solutions. Overcome the fear to admit failure, learn, and, if necessary, start over.


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