5 really obvious reasons why we shouldn’t fear AI

One of the classic thinking problems we encounter in contemporary pop science is the age old problem of intelligent machines, or AI (artificial intelligence). It makes people nervous. Even smart, successful boffins like Bill Gates and Stephen Hawking. The idea of intelligent, sentient computers conjures images of robots taking over the world and enslaving mankind, probably because we’ve grown up …

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Shakespeare and Hip Hop? The cognitive bias of art appreciation

  When it comes to defining great art and literature, most people encounter a thinking problem that explains what Man Vs. Brain is all about. That separation between the role our unconscious emotional brain plays in our thinking versus our logical, rational thought processes. The reason why art and literature make such a good example is the fact that, logically …

Britishness: The cognition of difference throws everyone a curve ball…

Britishness has been in the news a lot recently. After the current education secretary has encouraged the deregulation of state funded schools, opting-out from the national curriculum, openly expressed his preference to “empower” faith schools and so on, there is a sudden panic. You see, in an ethnically diverse, multicultural society like the UK, it turns out that giving local …

Metacognition: Is how you decide more valuable than what you decide?

Metacognition is the process of thinking about thinking. It’s what ManvsBrain.com is all about. And you can’t think about the way we think without turning your attention to practical, applied thinking sooner or later, which (of course) means thinking about decision making. Making better decisions dominates much of the writing about the topic, but actually, it’s a bit of a …

Islamic School Plots to UFOs? The cognition of conspiracy theories

Humans love conspiracy theories. We can’t help it. Creating plots, schemes, unseen forces and secret organisations to explain the world around us is actually wired into our brains. It stems from a thinking process we all develop as babies and forms completely between the ages of 3 and 4, called the Theory of Mind. It’s extremely powerful and evolutionarily was …

Hurricanes, cognitive bias and “what’s in a name?” – Gender bias update

Thanks to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America we’ve got a good example of sexist cognitive bias in operation. (See ManVsBrain.com essay “Think you’re not sexist? Think again: A thinking tool for fixing gender bias”). Kiju Jung, a doctoral student in marketing at the university, and marketing professor Sharon Shavitt have published …

Think you’re not sexist? Think again: A thinking tool for fixing gender bias.

Are you a sexist? The chances are you’ll answer that question with a “no”. But how do you know? You might not mean to be sexist, but have you ever tested the assumption with a logical, rational measure? You’ll probably answer that question with a “no” too, because you don’t need to prove it to yourself… because you’re not a …

Crap Hammer

The Reverse Formulation Bullshit Detector – or “Crap Hammer”

The interesting thing about thinking tools is the fact they don’t have to be complex philosophical or psychological concepts. In fact, the simpler they are, the better they work. Especially on concepts like bullshit. Thinking tools, in that need for simplicity, are like a hammer or a screwdriver. If you needed a manual to operate a hammer (as opposed to …