Black-and-White ThinkingBlack-and-White Thinking
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Black-and-White Thinking

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Kevin Dutton

In the distant past, categorizing helped humanity survive when there were dichotomies such as fight versus flight, us versus them, and right versus wrong aided our collective survival. Our brains, however, could not keep up with the rapid change in culture and language over such a short period. Due to this, we are left with black and white thinking in a world that is often gray. By noticing these black-and-white framings, we can improve our ability to observe and make a sense of our experiences. Identify the Sorites paradox in an argument. Bangladeshi-British footballer Hamza Choudhury has suffered racial abuse more than his share. It was revealed Choudhury himself had tweeted a racial joke in his teenage years. As a result, he was fined several thousand pounds and required to take an educational course. Well, do you think this punishment is appropriate? When is someone old enough to be held accountable? Six years old? Fifteen? Or eighteen? You should always consider the Sorites paradox on both sides when trying to make a point. You will be able to think clearly and make logical decisions after taking part in the cognitive workout.

hashtagneuroscience
hashtagsocial-life
clock12 min
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What's it about?

Kevin Dutton’s Black and White Thinking explores the human tendency to categorize things into binary categories such as black and white, right and wrong, and good and evil. Humans have a powerful instinct to categorize things which is a trait we developed through evolution. In ancient times, categorization was crucial for survival, but in the modern world, it has become rather burdensome. Today, it's rare to come across black-and-white situations like going into a deadly forest for food. The situations we encounter today are more like shades of gray.

Book summary

In the distant past, categorizing helped humanity survive when there were dichotomies such as fight versus flight, us versus them, and right versus wrong aided our collective survival. Our brains, however, could not keep up with the rapid change in culture and language over such a short period. Due to this, we are left with black and white thinking in a world that is often gray. By noticing these black-and-white framings, we can improve our ability to observe and make a sense of our experiences. Identify the Sorites paradox in an argument. Bangladeshi-British footballer Hamza Choudhury has suffered racial abuse more than his share. It was revealed Choudhury himself had tweeted a racial joke in his teenage years. As a result, he was fined several thousand pounds and required to take an educational course. Well, do you think this punishment is appropriate? When is someone old enough to be held accountable? Six years old? Fifteen? Or eighteen? You should always consider the Sorites paradox on both sides when trying to make a point. You will be able to think clearly and make logical decisions after taking part in the cognitive workout.

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Thinking in categories is a gift given by evolution.

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There are a lot of gray areas, and getting around them can be tricky.

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Categories can be too narrow or too loose.

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Cognitive closure and cognitive complexity vary among individuals on a spectrum.

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The tribal mentality affects our perceptions of reality.

5
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