Gonzales, Laurence — Why Do Smart People Do Stupid Things

Posted on January 19th, 2009 in Health,Psychology/Psychiatry,Science by LeGov

Why do smart people do stupid things? This is the question asked by Laurence Gonzales, author of “Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why” and “Everyday Survival: Why Smart People Do Stupid Things.” Gonzales examines the mental scripts we follow as we live our lives and how these scripts prescribe our response to a situation based upon our past experiences. The problem is that sometimes these scripts result in wrong and possibly dangerous actions based on insufficient evidence or memory in our past experience. Gonzales’ work demonstrates how these scripts can sometimes lead to us being our own worst enemy.

To break from this cycle and encourage full understanding of a situation and wise decision making, Gonzales encourages “curiosity, awareness, and attention.” He writes, “Those are the tools of our everyday survival… we must all be scientists at heart, or be victims of forces that we don’t understand.”

In a series of two Radio Curious visits with Laurence Gonzales we discuss how our mental scripts are created both genetically and from our personal experiences and how to keep them from getting us in trouble.

I spoke with Laurence Gonzales from his home near Chicago Illinois on January, 19 2009.  Our conversation began when I asked him how human behavior today has been shaped by that of our ancestors many thousands of years ago.

The book he recommends is “Survival in Auschwitz” by Primo Levi

Click here to begin listening to part one.

Click here to begin listening to part two.

Click here to download the podcast.

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