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Thursday, December 18, 2008

We don't have time for eternity

. . .the mismatch between our modern lives and ancient brains is most evident in the problems of working memory and attention, but another culprit may be at work. We are easily distracted also because we vastly overvalue what happens to us right now compared with what comes in the future and because novelty is intrinsically rewarding. So whatever we are supposed to be focusing on has to compete with every new email, new task, new blog post and new conversation that wanders into our information sphere. These biases may have served us well in our species' evolutionary past, when the future was uncertain and the new could well be a threat that deserved immediate attention. But nowadays the new is more often trivial than essential, and sacrificing immediate rewards can yield greater ones in the future. From a review, in the Dec 14, 2008, Wall Street Journal, of The Overflowing Brain, by Torkel Klingberg. The review was written by Christopher F. Chabris. (Emphasis in original.)

In other words, we don't have time for eternity.

Whether you are comfortable with the reviewer's view of human prehistory doesn't really matter here -- we are, indeed, too concerned with the Now and the New.

Thanks for reading. Consider the past and the future a little more today.

4 comments:

superrustyfly said...

Good post. I give 100 kudos.

Martin LaBar said...

Thanks, superrustyfly!

Julana said...

Good post, timely for the season.

Martin LaBar said...

Dec 20, 2008: Thanks, Julana.