Elephant in the Brain

What is it about?

In primatology most of things are filtered through hierarchy in the group. In Social sciences almost none. Book takes many of our contemporary institutions and tries to reinterpret it through that lens. Speculative and fascinating. And the reason why this is “elephant in our brain”. A feature we don’t see in ourselves.

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Speculative but very compelling examples from our institutions, organizations, rituals of how it much what we do is about signaling and climbing a hierarchy of our tribe. And why it is elephant in the brain. Thing we don't recognize in ourselves. Groundbreaking

Excerpts

“Our species, for reasons that aren’t entirely clear, is wired to form social bonds when we move in lockstep with each other. This can mean marching together, singing or chanting in unison, clapping hands to a beat, or even just wearing the same clothes.”

Why people really vote?

"During the 2008 race, for example, voters in “battleground” or “swing” states, like Colorado and New Hampshire, had relatively high odds of deciding the election, at 1 in 10 million. But in states like Oklahoma and New York, where one party is all but guaranteed to win, the odds were closer to 1 in 10 billion. That’s an astonishing 1,000-fold difference"

"Faced with these realities, pragmatic Do-Rights should be considerably more eager to vote when they find themselves in a swing state. Real voters, however, show remarkably little concern for whether their votes are likely to make a difference. Swing states see only a modest uptick in turnout, somewhere between one and four percentage points. In other words, decisiveness seems to matter to less than 4 out of every 100 eligible voters. Equally surprising is the fact that so many people bother to vote in non–swing states.”

“Real voters, however, show more interest in the status, personalities, and election drama of politicians than in their track records or policy positions.”

More

“It’s true that your life might improve if Candidate A is elected instead of Candidate B, but the odds that your single vote will tip the scales is miniscule. In the 2008 U.S. presidential election, for example, this figure was estimated at 1 in 60 million. So even if you stood to gain an enormous $500,000 worth of personal value (including subjective benefits) from Candidate A’s election, in expected value, your vote would still be worth less than a penny. In terms of outcomes and probabilities, you’d be better off buying a lottery ticket"