Getting to Yes, And

Vikram Mansharamani: Think For Yourself


Vikram Mansharamani

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Kelly has an intriguing conversation with Vikram Mansharamani who contends that we outsource too much of our thinking to experts in his new book: Think For Yourself.

You open the book by saying, “We’ve lost our minds.” What do you mean?

“Yeah. So what I meant by it was that we've learned to effectively outsource our thinking. It's sort of this learned dependency, if you will. It's not just people, in the form of experts, but also technologies and protocols and rules. We literally have stopped thinking in times where we just blindly follow the different guidance given to us. And I think that's one way to interpret the problem of losing our minds, that we've effectively let others take over our thinking. But the other thing that happened is, sometimes we refuse to listen to experts and those who know better than we do. And that is equally problematic. And so, you know, restoring our mind, if you want to use that language involves thinking for ourselves.”

You cite the work of Phillip Tetlock who did studies that showed that novices more often than not outperformed experts in predictions within their own fields.

“It really does stem from this idea that specialists tend to be narrow and focused and they're like men running or women running around with hammers. And so, surprise, surprise, they see some nails. And the generalist, one who is not specialized in that deep narrow sense, maybe someone that has multiple tools in their toolbox, they may have a screwdriver. They may have a wrench, as well as that hammer. And so when they see the little narrow silver shaft with a flat top on it, they may say, ‘Oh, I'm not just going to hit it. I'm going to look and see if it has a slit on that top. I'm going to look and see if the top round is actually not round, but as a hexagon or an octagon. It may require a wrench.’”

And one of the reasons this is occurring is the overwhelming amount of information and choices we are faced with in the modern world, right?

“We all know that we're drowning in data, information and choices. But the problem is, it offers this potential elusive goal of an ideal choice. A perfect decision to maximize the outcome. And it's that optimization process that leaves us with this low grade anxiety and we're always suffering from this fear of missing out on the optimal best choice. And that is what leads us running headlong into the arms of experts and technologies. And so we're happy to stop thinking if someone can solve this problem and give us the best choice, the optimal decision that is worth giving up our thinking for - or so we have come to believe.”

An indispensable guide for those looking to restore self-reliant thinking in a data-driven and technology-dependent yet overwhelmingly uncertain world.

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