Monthly Archives: January 2011


Thinking Too Much: Introspection Can Reduce the Quality of Preferences and Decisions


We have just begun to explore the conditions under which people should and should not reflect about the reasons for their preferences, thus to make broad claims about the dangers of introspection would be inappropriate (or at least premature). Perhaps the best conclusion at this point is a variation of Socrates’ oft-quoted statement that the “unexamined life is not worth living.” We suggest that, at least at times, the unexamined choice is worth making.

Haidt again, on disgust.

Gender had by far the largest effect, with women scoring at least 10 points higher on average than men in each of the four samples. However, the size of the gender difference varied considerably across domains.

But the remaining four domains — sex, personal hygiene, envelope violations, and death — seem to have little to do with oral defense. To explain why these domains elicit disgust, we turn to a theory first proposed by Rozin & Fallon (1987), that anything that reminds us that we are animals elicits disgust. We propose that core disgust has expanded through cultural evolution into a broader form of disgust we call animal-reminder disgust.

Humans cannot escape the evidence of their animal nature. In every society people must eat, excrete, and have sex. They bleed when cut, and ultimately they die and decompose. We propose that most cultures have found ways to “humanize” these activities, through rituals, customs, and taboos that serve to differentiate humans from animals. People who violate their local food and sex taboos risk being shunned and reviled by their peers, and in many cultures they are labelled as “animals”.

Thus we suggest that disgust is a defensive emotion that guards us against the recognition of our animality and, perhaps ultimately, of our own mortality.


Note Carpe Diem

The stats helper monkeys at mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A helper monkey made this abstract painting, inspired by your stats.

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 5,200 times in 2010. That’s about 13 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 10 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 130 posts.

The busiest day of the year was December 23rd with 133 views. The most popular post that day was Rilke writes a letter.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were,,,, and Google Reader.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for saringan, tea with mara, 100 photographs that changed the world, photographs that changed the world, and

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


Rilke writes a letter June 2009


to be continued… December 2009


Interesting quotes January 2010


Self-Handicapping January 2010


Stray Birds, Tagore, 1916 October 2009