‘Thinking, fast and slow’ is the title of the famous book by Daniel Kahneman, which explains the way our brain has two modes: fast – which enables us to instinctively asses situations and jump to conclusions (something that has been very useful in keeping us alive throughout the millions of years of our evolution) and slow – the analytical process of applying reason and logic (something that is hard and makes use of an external body of knowledge). Everywhere you can see examples of this split and why it is difficult to convince people with reason when they have taken a position based on instinct. You can watch that play out in politics (and go mad with frustration) and you can see it in yourself, as no one is exempt (which might actually be help you understand why you actually think something ).
So here is a small example of me being an ass by judging without fully thinking. The way an instinctive rejection of an idea built a wall that stopped me exploring any further.
When I first read Neil Gunn’s Whisky and Scotland my reaction was: “Oh piss off!” I can’t be doing with images of mist covered heather, rugged landscape and a noble, lost civilisation.” Instinctively I resist the overtly romantic and you can read this rejection here. You will note that I called it one of the worst whisky books and that I thought the romanticism sloppy. These are judgements I no longer hold. It is not one of the worst whisky books it is one of the most interesting.
I was able to break down my instinctive wall by learning more about Gunn’s life and work. Something that happened only because of discovering his involvement with Tormore and wanting to find out more about him. I was drawn in, became fascinated and came to admire both the man and his works. Because of this my understanding of his book about whisky has deepened and I find it rich indeed. It shows the unguarded Gunn and reveals a lot about the him and the wellsprings of his creativity. I have returned to it and each time I have found something new.
Thinking slowly has brought its rewards.
The funny thing is that I don’t totally disown my first response. I still think there is something in it.