Our Brains

Our picture of the brain as a logic machine, processing rationally, has been broken. The evidence is overwhelming that thinking is effortful, and we work very hard to put our solutions out in the world rather than keep them in our heads. As Andy Clark (1996) says in Being There, we must “abandon the idea of an executive center where the brain carries out high-level reasoning.” We build tools, reminders, notes, and other ways to avoid having to think.

At core, our brains are really good at pattern-matching and meaning-making. On the other hand, we are really bad at remembering rote information and executing tasks repeatedly without errors. We have limited working memory and trouble focusing our attention appropriately. Moreover, we ...

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