Thursday, November 14, 2013

Why is it that humans rarely learn from history?

According to a fascinating article by social psychologist Carol Tavris at the History News Network, part of the answer is due to structural features of our minds whose primary purpose is to protect our self-image, particularly when past behaviors conflict with it.  Here's a tantilizing early paragraph from her article:
History gives us the data of, in Barbara Tuchman’s splendid words, our march of folly -- repeated examples of human beings unable and unwilling to learn from mistakes, let alone to admit them. Cognitive science shows us why. Its evidence has put a stake through the heart of any remaining arrogance we might have as a species that we are Homo “sapiens.” Our brains, which have allowed us to travel into outer space, have a whole bunch of design flaws, which is why we have so much breathtaking bumbling here on Earth.
Specifically, there are at least three cognitive processes that help us rationalize past behaviors and actions that are incongruent with our self-images.  But I'll let you click here, to learn more and read this excellent article for yourself![ht:io9.com]
 
History gives us the data of, in Barbara Tuchman’s splendid words, our march of folly -- repeated examples of human beings unable and unwilling to learn from mistakes, let alone to admit them. Cognitive science shows us why. Its evidence has put a stake through the heart of any remaining arrogance we might have as a species that we are Homo “sapiens.” Our brains, which have allowed us to travel into outer space, have a whole bunch of design flaws, which is why we have so much breathtaking bumbling here on Earth. - See more at: http://hnn.us/article/153891#sthash.xrevK4ej.k5sUl8c5.dpuf
History gives us the data of, in Barbara Tuchman’s splendid words, our march of folly -- repeated examples of human beings unable and unwilling to learn from mistakes, let alone to admit them. Cognitive science shows us why. Its evidence has put a stake through the heart of any remaining arrogance we might have as a species that we are Homo “sapiens.” Our brains, which have allowed us to travel into outer space, have a whole bunch of design flaws, which is why we have so much breathtaking bumbling here on Earth. - See more at: http://hnn.us/article/153891#sthash.xrevK4ej.k5sUl8c5.dpuf
History gives us the data of, in Barbara Tuchman’s splendid words, our march of folly -- repeated examples of human beings unable and unwilling to learn from mistakes, let alone to admit them. Cognitive science shows us why. Its evidence has put a stake through the heart of any remaining arrogance we might have as a species that we are Homo “sapiens.” Our brains, which have allowed us to travel into outer space, have a whole bunch of design flaws, which is why we have so much breathtaking bumbling here on Earth. - See more at: http://hnn.us/article/153891#sthash.xrevK4ej.k5sUl8c5.dpuf