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Intuition as a Coherence Creating Mechanism, The Value of Changing Your Name, & A Ruefle Review

Resource: How Our Minds Mislead Us: The Marvels and Flaws of Our Intuition
Link: https://www.brainpickings.org/2013/10/30/daniel-kahneman-intuition/

“our chronic discomfort with ambiguity — which, ironically, is critical to both our creativity and the richness of our lives — leads us to lock down safe, comfortable, familiar interpretations, even if they are only partial representations of or fully disconnected from reality.” -Maria Popova

Reflections notes:

Type 1 thinking — Intuition/perception. Effortless, unconscious, associative, biased towards coherence.
Type 2 thinking — Analytical/scientific. Rigorous, inferential, deliberate.

Although we tend to think that most of our beliefs and decisions are the product of Type 2 thinking, the guide of our lives is Type 1 thinking. We commit to conclusions at the level of intuition, then we back them up at the level of reason.

Associate coherence — our minds have an unconscious bias towards coherence. That is, we light up at facts that resonate or cohere with the ideas already in our minds. We’re more likely to notice and accept ideas that enhance and agree with our existing framework. Facts that are more ambiguous or that have little associate with the things we know tend to be overlooked.

Narratives have a compelling effect on our belief systems. When we have a coherent narrative, we feel inclined to accept that narrative as true.

Because we are such natural sense-making creatures, we see more coherence in the world than there actually is. Intuition is a “coherence-creating mechanism.”

Excerpts/Quotes:

Daniel Kahneman on how errors reveal the workings of the mind:

“If you want to characterize how something is done, then one of the most powerful ways of characterizing how the mind does anything is by looking at the errors that the mind produces while it’s doing it because the errors tell you what it is doing. Correct performance tells you much less about the procedure than the errors do.”

On how intuition and perception are the unsung heroes of personal judgment:

“Type 1 is automatic, effortless, often unconscious, and associatively coherent. . . . Type 2 is controlled, effortful, usually conscious, tends to be logically coherent, rule-governed. Perception and intuition are Type 1. … Type 2 is more controlled, slower, is more deliberate. . . . Type 2 is who we think we are. [And yet] if one made a film on this, Type 2 would be a secondary character who thinks that he is the hero because that’s who we think we are, but in fact, it’s Type 1 that does most of the work, and it’s most of the work that is completely hidden from us.”

On how the mind is biases towards coherent-friendly facts:

“The thing about the system is that it settles into a stable representation of reality, and that is just a marvelous accomplishment. … That’s not a flaw, that’s a marvel. [But] coherence has its cost. Coherence means that you’re going to adopt one interpretation in general. Ambiguity tends to be suppressed. This is part of the mechanism that you have here that ideas activate other ideas and the more coherent they are, the more likely they are to activate each other. Other things that don’t fit fall away by the wayside. We’re enforcing coherent interpretations. We see the world as much more coherent than it is.”

On why we see the world as more coherent than it is:

“Associative coherence [is] in large part where the marvels turn into flaws. We see a world that is vastly more coherent than the world actually is. That’s because of this coherence-creating mechanism that we have. We have a sense-making organ in our heads, and we tend to see things that are emotionally coherent, and that are associatively coherent.”

How narrative coherency shapes our sense of what’s true:

“That will very often create a flaw. It will create overconfidence. The confidence people have in their beliefs is not a measure of the quality of evidence [but] of the coherence of the story that the mind has managed to construct. Quite often you can construct very good stories out of very little evidence. . . . People tend to have great belief, great faith in the stories that are based on very little evidence.”

Resource: Change Your Name
Link: http://www.paulgraham.com/name.html

Reflections/Notes:

Interesting perspective here. Graham argues that you should change the name of your startup if you don’t own the domain for yourname.com. The main reason here, apart from the ease with which people can find your site, is that it signals strength to own your domain and makes you look marginal when you don’t.

Having an absolutely amazing name is overrated. A name that is not bad is probably good enough.

Don’t attach your company name to your sense of personal identity/integrity. If you have a bad name for your startup, that’s no reflection on you as a leader.

Excerpts/Quotes:

Why you should change your name if you don’t own the domain for yourname.com:

“If you have a US startup called X and you don’t have x.com, you should probably change your name. The reason is not just that people can’t find you. For companies with mobile apps, especially, having the right domain name is not as critical as it used to be for getting users. The problem with not having the .com of your name is that it signals weakness. Unless you’re so big that your reputation precedes you, a marginal domain suggests you’re a marginal company. Whereas (as Stripe shows) having x.com signals strength even if it has no relation to what you do.”

Why your name is not as great as you think:

“X is what we are, founders think. There’s no other name as good. Both of which are false…There’s nothing intrinsically great about your current name. Nearly all your attachment to it comes from it being attached to you.”

Why being bad at naming isn’t something you should take personally:

“Naming is a completely separate skill from those you need to be a good founder. You can be a great startup founder but hopeless at thinking of names for your company.”

In the realm of naming, “not bad” = “good enough”:

“But with company names there is another possible approach. It turns out almost any word or word pair that is not an obviously bad name is a sufficiently good one, and the number of such domains is so large that you can find plenty that are cheap or even untaken.”

Resource: Madness and Rowing
Link: https://www.frankchimero.com/archive/2014/madness-and-rowing/

” not all long things are slow, complicated, boring things…” -Frank Chimero

Book referenced/reviewed by Frank Chimero —> “Madness, Rack, and Honey” by Mary Ruefle

Chimero’s description of the books profundity and fast pace:

“Meaning that Madness probably isn’t a set of lectures, but a collection of Ruefle’s readings of writings. I think that’s why the book reads so fast: it was written to be read by someone who doesn’t want to be in front of people lecturing. In spite of that, it contains so much wit and charm, and so rarely gazes at its navel or twiddles its thumbs while turning over some pretty serious questions about poetry by braiding in topics like secrets, the moon, fear, reading, memory, and sentimentality.”

Ruefle on a book’s internal engine:

“Really, people must think literary aficionados are all addicted to painfully heavy, slow things. Like the aircraft used for the lunar launches, good books only look heavy and slow: their speed depends on their internal engines and where they are pointed.”

Chimero on the joy of pulp writing:

“The joy of pulp is the guilty pleasure of momentum, the sensation of progress, the whiplash of a joyride. That’s why chapters are so short in those terrible Dan Brown novels. You here and then you’ve finished it and now you’re there, and woah, look I’m reading! Look at all I’ve read! It’s the same thing that somehow carries you through thirty hours of Veronica Mars on a flu-addled weekend.”

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