Sunday, 7 September 2014

The Art of Thinking Clearly. Does Harvard Make you Smarter?

Good afternoon loved ones. Recently, I have been reading a book that is helping me on the path to cleansing my mind. Since my little confidence wobble a couple of weeks ago, I was searching for something to help my perspective. As someone who has battled with depression from early teens, there isn't many self help books, techniques and teachings that I haven't come across. Refreshingly, 'The Art of Thinking Clearly' by Rolf Dobelli, isn't aimed necessarily at those ideals, more-so at helping to question the way that we make mistakes, judgements and failures and adapt the way we make the decisions that lead to the above. Cognitive biases. So far I've found it to be really, very helpful and interesting. So much so that I want to do a little series post about what I'm learning, in the hope that it may help some of you too!

 *All information is based on the book but adapted so as not to ruin it completely.*

Does Harvard make you smarter? The Ballet Body Illusion.

Summer is drawing to an end, our little bodies are crammed with the remains of bbqs, ice creams and too much booze. Plenty of us are looking at ourselves and thinking; "Right, what new sport do I do to get fit and loose weight?" We look in our local sports centre activities and find ballet dancing. "Aahh I'll do ballet, they look in pretty good shape..." Six gruelling months later, we look in the mirror as we pirouette across the dance floor, and though clearly more in shape, we suddenly realise the illusion that we've fallen for. The ballet body illusion. The beautiful ballerinas are just that because they were chosen for their body shapes. They've been that way all along. How they are designed is a factor for selection and not a result of their activities. Similarly used in marketing campaigns all around; a cosmetics adverts recruits beautiful models to advertise their new make up brand, everyone goes out and buys said lipstick or whatever because they too want to look like the beautiful model. But the model was chosen because of how she already looked? Not because the make up somehow made her beautiful? Once again confusing selection factors with results. Of course it's essential that we all fall for this otherwise nobody would sell anything, but personally I find it interesting because when decision making, it's easy to fall into the ballet body illusion and not notice the bigger picture. 

"For example, Harvard has the reputation for being a top university. Many highly successful people have studied there.  Does this mean that Harvard is a good school? We don't know. Perhaps the school is terrible and it simply recruits the brightest students around?"

By being born happy you tend to continue that trait of your embedded personality and throughout your life see the positive rather than the negative. The people that see the 'glass half full'.

The moral? Be wary of self-illusion. Take a good hard look in the mirror before you make decisions and try to see the situation from a selection factor as oppose to a results one.

Interesting eh?
Love Sophie Xx


  1. This post is so insightful! I think it's a very difficult concept to grasp - being aware of and realizing what self-illusions we create and distinguishing them from the reality of certain situations - because we're surrounded by so many of them! If you think about it, it may even be an impossible thing to overcome. Because even if you shut out society and decided to just focus on doing "your personal best," what is "your personal best" based upon?
    Loved the post, thanks for sharing!
    ~ Samantha

  2. Oooh more please.
    I'm still dipping and out of S.U.M.O which is great if you can battle through the cheese. I do love anything that challenges me to look at the world in a different way.
    M x


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