The Social Animal

The Narrative Fallacy

“You were able to see luck and separate cause and effect because of your Eastern Orthodox Mediterranean heritage.” And he was so convincing that, for a minute, I agreed with his interpretation.

We like stories, we like to summarize, and we like to simplify, i.e., to reduce the dimension of matters. The first of the problems of human nature that we examine… is what I call the narrative fallacy. The fallacy is associated with our vulnerability to overinterpretation and our predilection for compact stories over raw truths. It severely distorts our mental representation of the world; it is particularly acute when it comes to the rare event.

The narrative fallacy addresses our limited ability to look at sequences of facts without weaving an explanation into them, or, equivalently, forcing a logical link, an arrow of relationship, upon them. Explanations bind facts together. They make them all more easily remembered; they help them make more sense.
Where this propensity can go wrong is when it increases our impression of understanding.

The problem of narrative, although extensively studied in one of its versions by psychologists, is not so “psychological” something about the way disciplines are designed masks the point that it is more generally a problem of information. While narrative comes from an ingrained biological need to reduce dimensionallity, robots would prone to the same process of reduction.

Information wants to be reduced.

— Nassim N. Taleb, The Black Swan


Interesting to see that simplification lead to misunderstanding. Though makes a lot of sense, is so common and usual that, for some time during my teenager years, I thought that some of the inefficiencies found in my country were there due to the lack of sophistication of the Portuguese speakers thinking. For instance, Portuguese speaking countries are not the most developed, innovative places. May not be the worst of all, they still lack a lot of true good will, fair judgement and excellence during execution, specially in the public sector. We’re lazy, and we’re recognized for that (I feel shamed about it, just register). But it probably has little to do with the idiom per se, and more with the structure and organization of human brain, apart from society and government organization. You can change laws quickly, but it takes a lot more to change culture and collective behavior.

After all, we tend to create comfort zones, we tend to overvalue simplifications instead of true, deep and complex understanding. Again, thought it was an under developed societies’ trait. Not the case.

What really draw my attention was the fact that information wants to be reduced. In a general observation, makes sense. It makes even more sense considering all the abstraction we care everyday without questioning: car engines and urban pollution, water usage and scarcity, waste disposal and public health, government spending and citizens real needs. If we were able to track all this information at the lower level of granularity, life would be so complicated, so complex, that we would end up the way… we are. This considering the current mindset.

To understand what engine pollutes less, to chose it despite of its higher price, sound logical but not practical. To take care of water usage and consumption while not in a severe water rationing, is to much effort for everyday tasks. To carefully dispose waste and dump it correctly, ensuring its destiny far from our home, sounds too much of a task.
After all, why are governments there for?

But I don’t mean to be politically correct nor fair, I’m interested in the fact that we carry forward small mistakes bind in (wrong) facts and preconceived interpretations, and we do it for the sake of simplification, of easy understanding, of massification. Sounds like a huge breach to be explored by neutral, objective and powerful, Artificial Intelligence, as we sound very obsolete for such a long time.


Each one of us choose on what to believe in our lives, and how further one is interested in dig into the truth, as the truth is an endless source of knowledge.

In the quest for mean and reason, life prepares many doubt situations for our self discovery. Most of these problems don’t even exist, as if faced by a life threatening situation, but all of them are reasonable while we’re living the moment, solve all of this equations makes sense till completion, then we’re ready for next level.

Some questions are deep and profound, but from some point on we’re not able to tell exactly what the truth is, how everything works. We have to guess, approximate, and believe in ours and others interpretations to understand and explain what we believe in order to create a sustainable explanation that allow us to consciously understand life.
We need some level of faith to survive.

It’s in the gap created by faith related questions like “where we came from”, “where are we going”, and “what’s the reason for our existence”, that religion and mysticism appears, simplifying complex things trough a notably wrong interpretation, sometimes blinding the truth, sometimes simply ignoring it.

The quest for God is individual and legitimate, is expressed by every single interaction of someone with the holy, sacred act of evolution, of discovery and  understanding the natural sciences. Seek for the truth is something divine, is the fuel propelling years and years of evolution, something inevitable as well as undeniable.

In the spiritual quest, knowledge is the drive, as one cannot believe what one cannot understand, but accept the fact that one doesn’t know everything (in fact anyone knows barely nothing), and after all, we’re looking for those who also seek the truth with that in mind: we’re in the middle of a journey that’ll never reach an end.
But we all need the truth, no room for mysticism.

The bottom line

Religion fills the gap where education and knowledge cannot be met.
With time, our society invariably evolves, we’re going to need less and less religious concepts and beliefs, science starts taking over this gap, explaining everything, filling the gap of knowledge, of understanding, the natural evolution.

Spiritual is the quest for the truth, always questioning, always aware that we’re far from the end, the absolute communion between men and nature.
In the relentless quest for spiritual awareness, remember to look at the stars and think that we, as individuals, know very little about the universe we live in.


Meet Mother Nature

This beautiful film made by Conservation International is part of a broader campaign, where nature shows its beauties in a personal matter, as the living creature it is.

Pay attention to the message and keep in mind Evolution is a path, not an end

Limits Nor Morality

David Ricardo’s insight into the price of land is nevertheless interesting: the “scarcity principle” on which he relied meant that certain prices might rise to very high level over many decades.

This could well be enough to destabilize entire societies. The price system plays a key role in coordinating the activities of millions of individuals –indeed, today, billions of individuals in the the global economy.

The problem is that the price system knows neither limits nor morality.

It would be a serious mistake to neglect the importance of the scarcity principle for understanding the global distribution of wealth in the twenty-first century.

To convince oneself of this, it is enough to replace the price of farmlands in Ricardo’s model to the price of urban real estate in major world capitals, or, alternatively, by the price of oil.

In both cases, if the trend over the period 1970-2010 is extrapolated to the period 2010-2050 or 2010-2100, the result is economic, social, and political disequilibria of considerable magnitude, not only between but  within countries– desequilibria that inevitably call to mind the Ricardian apocalypse.”

Thomas Piketti, Capital in the 21st century


Einstein about problems

“Do not worry about your problems with mathematics, I assure you mine are far greater.”

(Letter to Barbara Lee Wilson, 7 January 1943)

einstein young

Einstein on paradigms

“We can’t solve problems by using thesame kind

of thinking we used when we created them.”

–Albert Einstein


I found this citation in a course related to sustainability and innovation.

This quote has a lot to do with the paragidm shift ideas mentioned here, here and here.

And this is the basic understanding to comprehend the theory of exponential returns that lead to singularity.

We are living amidst a revolution.


“Most men die of their remedies, and not of their illness”




Daft Punk

Daft Punk is a duo  of french musicians that released their first album, Homework, in 1997. They have a notorious presence in the scene worldwide, since we listen to it here in Brazil, as well as people in France, Korea, Canada,… and they play for more than a decade. Then I asked myself, why should I blog it here? The answer — or consolation– came with the house beat, the vocoders, electric drums and synthesizers that compose the tracks played in random access memory, their latest album. This is a lot of #technology, in my opinion. And with all of this they deliver an excelent groove a la 70s.

More, but a lot more on the web. Start from Wikipedia>>, but even YouTube is a good call. Reach, or find the content is not the problem. The problem is find the best content that fits your desires, your moment and aspiration. Very subtle. In a very modern sense, it’s just semantic expression and search engine utilization. And if you cannot find it anywhere, there’s an opportunity to create, because never before has been easier.

Let’s bring even more #technology to this talk. What to say about this superposition between “Loose yourself to dance” (Daft Punk) and this video from Mr. Setevie Wonder — a genious–, Superstition, played in 1972. Both are from the same root (and pitch). Thank God! This is good music. Bounce’n your chair!

Once I heard at television that the movie “The Wizard of Oz” has a perfect match with Pink Floyd’s album, “Dark Side of the Moon”, which I like very much and was the very first album I ever bought in life. Nothing special about it. Have you ever tried? I’ll check at the web.


Albert Einstein Quotes

“Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.”

“If A is a success in life, then A equals x plus y plus z. Work is x; y is play; and z is keeping your mouth shut.”

“Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.”


“The law of the mind is relentless.

What you think, you create;

What you feel, you attract;

What you believe becomes reality. ”

Strongly believe in your dreams and they will happen. That’s the key for success.

Innovation is a matter of confidence, creativity, achievement and perseverance. All inner qualities.

Technology is a byproduct of imagination.

The reality we live is virtual, only the present time can be considered real.

Everything else is imagination or rememberance.

Keep dreaming, this is a virtual world.

More and more we are used to virtuality. This trend will grow infinitely, until humanity, the way we know it from the 20th century, won’t be anymore a valid reference.