070504 – Friday – Trust your brain?

– I’ve got a nice collection of relatively unpopular books. They concern how poorly our brains work and I suspect they are unpopular because we, as a species, just don’t want to take a hard look at this issue. We are, after all, the smartest animal on the planet, right? I mean, look how well we are running the place.

– Here a little problem that just might give you a glimmer:

There are three boxes on the table and I’ve put a $100 bill into one of them. I know which one it is but you don’t. I ask you to pick one box and you do and you slide it over to your side of the table without opening it. Then I open one of the remaining two boxes that I know is empty and and I show you that there’s nothing in it. (The fact that I know the box is empty before I show you is the key bit here.)

Now, I ask you if you want to keep the box you originally chose or would you like to trade for the remaining closed box that I have?

You can either keep your original box or trade for mine. Which ever you choose to do, you need select and complete one of the following statements to explain your choice:

(1) It was important to stick with your original box because <fill in the blank>.

(2) It was important to switch to my box because <fill in the blank>.

(3) It wouldn’t make any difference if you switched or not because <fill in the blank>.

THINK about your answer for a bit before you click on the following link to get the answer.



Oh, and that collection of books? I thought you’d never ask.

A Mind of its Own – How Your Brain Distorts and Decieves by Cordelia Fine

Non-sense – a handbook of Logical Fallacies by Robert J. Gula

Inevitable Illusions – How the Mistakes of Reason Rule Our Minds by Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini

Mean Genes – from Sex to Money to Food Taming our Primal Instincts by Terry Burnham and Jay Phelan

Thought Contagion – How belief Spreads Through Society by Aaron Lynch

– And if you want to buy any of these books, make your way to Amazon through one of the following links and a few pennies will come my way so that my on-line raving does not go totally unrewarded.

Minor postscript: I originally wrote this piece yesterday and entitled it, 070403 – Thursday – Trust your brain? Then, after it was all written and I was making a few final tweaks, my brain, which I trust very little indeed, caused me to press some unknown combination of surprise keystrokes (while thinking it was doing something brilliant, no doubt) and the entire piece vanished from the screen and, I thought, from the face of the Earth forever. It was GONE. It was also fairly late in the evening and so I got up, said a few choice words about bad luck and the illegitimate parentage of this particular computer (note, I left any culpability on the part of my brain entirely out of my carefully thought out post-mortem analysis) and went off and had a glass of Sake to quell my irritation. Have I ever mentioned, that with few exceptions, I hate doing anything twice? So, imagine my surprise, when I checked my E-mail this morning, to find a copy of the lost piece in my mail box! Apparently, the WordPress system, which E-mails out copies of the pieces I write to those who’d prefer not to read them on web browsers, had snagged a copy in those lucky few second between my completing the piece and my final aberrant keystrokes. My conclusion (this is my brain talking here so be wary) is that either some one loves me or someone has a strange sense of humor. Either way – I’m clueless and happy.

– Thx to Rolf A. for suggesting a change to this piece that made it more effective.

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