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Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

The simplicity bias (6): Time

Last Friday, I suddenly realised that Time might be the foremost cause of our simplicity bias. Most people live in the here & now. They are unaware and uninterested about history, despite the saying that history (always) repeats itself. In my thinking, I’m always looking at the past, while using current comparisons (eg, analogy with animals), and extrapolating into the future

Some months ago, I had a discussion on climate change. I believe in climate change but am not too worried. Its impact takes centuries. Earth’s history shows many periods of global warming (interglacials) and global cooling (glacials or ice ages). Climate change is the default and not the exception. Reluctantly, she agreed. Her final argument was: “This time, it’s different”. 

Recently, the new US president accused some US state governors of “Neanderthal thinking”, which is a derogatory expression and/or insult. Apparently, Joe Biden is unaware of the scientific reassessment of the Neanderthal (my blogs), who were once considered to be simple cavemen.

The Neanderthal survived for at least 400,000 to 800,000 years, including several Ice Ages. The last Ice Age nearly wiped them out (Smithsonian). Moreover, all human beings carry Neanderthal DNA, albeit somewhat less in Africa (eg, Phys-2020). I doubt that (fragile and vulnerable) homo sapiens could even survive the next Ice Age. We can, however, survive some extra degrees.

Our disregard for the past is also clear from a quote in The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien:

“And some things that should not have been forgotten were lost. History became legend. Legend became myth. And for two and a half thousand years, the ring passed out of all knowledge.” 

Our disregard for the past is a mix of arrogance and ignorance, which might be another reason for our simplicity bias – in and of itself. Each new generation considers itself superior over the previous generation(s) (my 2020 blog). History lessons tend to be about historical facts (eg, what, when, who) rather than about foretelling cycles (eg, Strauss-Howe generational theory). 

“Maybe history wouldn’t have to repeat itself if we listened once in awhile.” A quote by Wynne McLaughlin, a “narrative designer for video games, screenwriter, television writer, and novelist”.

Time After Time (1983) by Eva Cassidy (1963-1996)

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Note: all markings (bolditalic, underlining) by LO unless stated otherwise.

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