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Your Ingredient Philosophy: The Illusion of Validity

October 16, 2012

I read a lot of books (yes I know, you would never guess that by my spelling haha) and this is one that has been a bedside companion for a couple of months now – it is just so full of information and ‘wow I’ll have to sit with that for a while’ brain facts that it deserves savouring.

Thinking, Fast and Slow. Daniel kahneman

If you like to challenge your brain cell and read about how psychologists construct experiments that uncover how our brains work (or at least how they usually work in certain situations) then this is for you.  If you can’t be bothered or don’t see what this has to do with Realize Beauty then wait on, I will read a bit to you:

The Illusion of Validity appears in chapter 20, page 209 of the paperback version (it is also available on itunes) and as I turned that page and started to read a lightbulb or several came on.  Let me share it with you:

‘System 1 (that is the part of the brain that thinks quickly) is designed to jump to conclusions from little evidence and it is not designed to know the size of its jumps’.  

OK so for those of you that haven’t read this and don’t intend to our brain has two speeds – fast and slow, system 1 being fast and 2 being slow. Our slower one is our inner accountant while our fast one is our teenage, loose-as-a-goose, smile-and-wave party person).

‘Because of WYSIATI, only the evidence at hand counts.’

WYSIATI = What you see is all there is.   Time after time I feel my cage rattling as I see people all over the googlesphere being sucked into chasms of WYSIATI as they suck up anything and everything that looks good, almost always without question and usually with a big ‘oh thank you’ smile on their faces. We must like being done over.

I continue:

‘Because of confidence by coherence, the subjective confidence we have in our opinions reflects the coherence of the story that system 1 and 2 have constructed’

So, we find info that we like the sound of, we like information that we like the sound of as it makes us feel cleaver and like we were ‘right all along about that’ and so our brain sucks it in.

Anyway:

‘The amount of evidence and its quality do not count for much, because poor evidence can make a very good story. For some of our most important beliefs we have no evidence at all, except that people we love and trust hold those beliefs.

I shall call this the ‘Santa Clause’ effect or to give it its proper title ‘the halo effect’ – you like someone, you want to believe everything that they say (or at least not dis-believe it) so you take it onboard.

Onwards>>>

“Considering how little we know, the confidence we have in our beliefs is preposterous – and is also essential.

Ha, yes, how true!  We would be paralyzed in our in-decision if we admitted the truth to ourself – that while we may know something about something, we don’t know everything about anything.  However, our over-confidence and readiness to preach via the world wide webisphere both conspire to make us weapons of mass mis-information.

The  science to back up this statement are outlined and referenced in the book and yes, like anything else my willingness to suck this up must be tempered with cross referencing, primary research of my own based on my experiences and by talking to other people.  But that is time-consuming and in the gap between me reading something like this and me adopting it as a belief there is a field of tumbleweed, uncertainty and discomfort – It is tempting to not  know WHAT to think any more……….

I shared that with you because I in the 4 1/2 years of writing this blog I have written my way into and out of beliefs of my own.  Beliefs about sustainability, animal testing, natural resources,  synthetic chemicals, vitamins, dermal penetration, sunscreens, nanotechnology, preservatives, business and branding.   Sometimes when I write I just write, I sit here and the words just flow out like a waterfall because something triggered a thought and a thought became a plan etc…..  However, more often than not the articles that are posted here have been deliberated upon substantially, researched until my eyes are red and challenged by checking out what other views exist.  That isn’t to say that I am therefore a literary giant, a genius or some kind of beauty science martyr, not at all.  It is just that my system 2 kicks in WAAAAAY too often turning what could oh so easily be a cheap, quick ‘thrill seeker’ of a story into something that is rather more tame but hopefully more useful.

Anyway, I challenge you to stop and think about your cosmetic beliefs and not just about the easy stuff – yes ‘natural’ does sound way better than ‘chemical factory’ but about the underlying reasons and principles that guide your product, ingredient, brand, lifestyle choices.  Your intuition may have guided you to a safe place but then again you may just find that you’ve been stuck in the corner with the party people getting up to no good.

Whatever you do I hope that you have fun and are sure to give yourself the time to do what matters.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. October 17, 2012 9:06 pm

    “However, more often than not the articles that are posted here have been deliberated upon substantially, researched until my eyes are red and challenged by checking out what other views exist.” And it shows! When I write, I also try to look at every side of the story, especially when it comes to cosmetics. There is so much conflicting information out there, sometimes it really is very hard to know what to believe. As a matter of fact, just before I came onto this article, I was just reading another short article about the challenge of decision making and forming beliefs in the age of social media: (http://www.impatientoptimists.org/Posts/2012/10/The-Most-Important-Skill-to-Teach-Students-in-the-Age-of-Social-Media). Higher-order, critical-thinking skills, through evidence-based argumentation and analysis is becoming ever more important–and sadly, becoming ever more rare.

    • RealizeBeautyEd permalink
      October 17, 2012 10:29 pm

      Good points – Thinking may be rare and under-valued but that doesn’t mean that we should give up. The moment we surrender our brains we start to die.

  2. November 20, 2012 10:55 pm

    I must thank you for the efforts you’ve put in penning this website. I really hope to see the same high-grade blog posts by you in the future as well. In truth, your creative writing abilities has inspired me to get my own blog now 😉

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