Point 1: People don’t know what they want
Time and again, psychological studies have found that we overestimate how happy we will be after winning a prize, starting a new relationship or taking revenge against those who have wronged us. We also overrate our disappointment at bad test results, disability or failure to progress at work. Try as we might, we consistently fail to forecast our own emotional reactions, and we even fail to accurately remember our past experiences to be used as guides.
Gilbert says that the main reason for this is an inability to accurately imagine future events. We can close our eyes and try to picture ourselves in the future but we focus on the wrong things, we predict that our emotions will last longer than they do, and so on. Some scientists have tried to improve things by training people to mentally time-travel with more accuracy but these attempts have been largely unsuccessful.
Us trying to understand ourselves is a risky proposition. First, it freaks us out that our consciousness arises from our bodies, because our consciousness “feels” more like a gift from the gods. Second, we don’t know ourselves that well. Third, because we’re accustomed to measuring everything by impact on ourselves, we reduce the world to a binary: me versus It. The result is a paranoid, weird, self-important overestimation of all emotional effects.
Point 2: Everyone has something to lose
A landmark effort to transform Southern California’s coastal waters into a network of havens for marine life has sparked a fierce debate over where to locate no-fishing zones that ecologists believe are needed to replenish the surrounding seas.
“Every square foot of the Southern California coastline is somebody’s favorite fishing spot,” said Steve Benavides, a tax attorney and diver of 40 years who is among the group of stakeholders hashing out their differences.
That’s right: you cannot make an omelette without breaking some eggs.
To make intelligent decisions, you need to ruin someone’s dream. Oh well — their dream was probably unrealistic then. Move on, instead of wallowing.
Wallowing is to demand that everyone be represented, which dooms us by another process: the arrival of the stupid.
Stupid people destroy any political system they get their hands on. Whether it’s democratic, or autocratic, at some point stupidity prevails. We need more people who can recognize stupidity and beat it down.
Otherwise, when they arrive, as they inevitably do, they wreck the whole process.