Because the universe is beautiful enough without having to lie about it

A Formula for Happiness

March 2nd, 2009 Posted in Creationism, Psychology

I came across this video of a talk by Dan Gilbert at the TED Conference.  His talk, called “Exploring the Frontiers of Happiness”, examines the way in which human beings estimate their own happiness and, more importantly, what would cause it. He also covers topics such as “Why newspapers give you a highly skewed view of the world.”  There’s at least two really good practical questions that this video raises.

Firstly, why is it that the human mind seems poorly adapted to move us towards those things that will ultimately cause us to be happy? Well, I guess that’s an easy one – the human mind only makes sense when seen through the light of evolution. Anyone claiming that the brain is a result of intelligent design is going to have to explain why it’s so bad at understanding the world around us. Sure, the human brain achieves many incredibly difficult tasks very well indeed, but when it comes to understanding simple probability; overcoming addictions; dealing with situations of extreme stress, fear or emotional intensity; estimating very large numbers, or times and distances outside the span of normal human experience; or making those most important decisions in our lives… all of these times the brain seems uniquely poorly adapted to the task.

Secondly, how can we get a fair view of what is going on in the world? How can we deal with the fact that the media is feeding us information that is not representative of the real world? And worse than that, our brain is not particularly good at dealing with the information it receives, either. 

What would a newspaper look like if it gave space proportionately to the real impact of a story? I wonder if we could learn to find that as interesting as the current, sensationalist newspapers?

So the human brain is a wonderful device – not because it is perfect, but because it is not and, like so many other aspects of life, we can learn a lot more from the weaknesses than the successes.

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