Purpose one: writing a travelogue to describe my various trips.

Purpose two: muse.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Wonders and Dangers of Emotional Thinking

Here is another great grook entitled A Psychological Tip:

Whenever you're called on to make up your mind, and you're hampered by not having any,
the best way to solve the dilemma, you'll find, is simply by spinning a penny.
No -- not so that chance shall decide the affair while you're passively standing there moping;
but the moment the penny is up in the air, you suddenly know what
you're hoping.
This is an example of emotional thinking. I find it particularly useful in dating. I can go on a date with a woman, and she can be smart, funny, pretty and at ease with herself. When I tell her I am going to call her again, I probably mean it at the time, but if a week or two passes, and I have not felt like calling her, we both have the answer we need.

Do not confuse my use of the term emotional thinking with emotional intelligence. The latter is the ability to identify emotions and their causes, in yourself and in others. Emtional thinking is when you use your feelings to make a decision or conclusion.

The danger with emotional thinking is that it is useless when abstractions of any kind are involved. Abstractions can invoke emotion, but those emotions are much weaker than those invoked by specifics. To make matters worse, large numbers are abstract, at least to most of us.

This is why relief organizations use pictures of a single child, and stories of individuals, to solicit contributions. The appeal, "Abebi is a three-year old, starving Nigerian girl" is more powerful than "A quarter million Nigerian children are starving." It is a bit absurd, but very true.

Emotional thinking is an important tool in our personal lives, but it is unfortunate when people let it guide their input to discussions about social issues, or at least, when it is the overriding guide.

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