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Mental Mismatch

In New World New Mind (1989), Robert Ornstein and Paul Ehrlich discuss the mismatch between our minds and the modern world. They blame many problems on our minds being poorly adapted to dealing with today's problems.

"...the human mental system is failing to comprehend the modern world. [p. 2] ... Our nervous system and our world are mismatched now. ... The problem has much deeper roots than most people envision. To trace its history will take us into the world in which our species evolved, into the world that made us. That world has produced in us certain ways of interpreting our surroundings, ways that once enhanced our survival. But these "old ways" are not necessarily adaptive in a world that is utterly different from the one in which our ancestors lived. Some scientists recognized our evolutionary mismatch decades ago, but their insight has had as yet little effect. [pp. 6-7]''




According to Thomas Friedman:

The pace of technological change is outstripping the average person’s ability to adapt.
- Thomas L. Friedman, Another Age of Discovery, NYT, June 22, 2016




Americans' limited understanding of matters related to finance puts them at risk of making poor financial decisions. FINRA's 2015 National Financial Capability Study tested a representative sample of 27,564 American adults on basic financial understanding.

Study participants were asked five questions covering aspects of economics and finance encountered in everyday life, such as compound interest, inflation, principles relating to risk and diversification, the relationship between bond prices and interest rates, and the impact that a shorter term can have on total interest payments over the life of a mortgage.

Only 37% were unable to answer 4 or more correctly (down from 42% in 2009).

- FINRA, National Financial Capability Study, 2015


We have inherited from our nonhuman and human forerunners a complex affect apparatus suited to life circumstances very different from ours. That apparatus... was created by natural selection and assisted by genetic transmission over a long period of time. It worked well for nonhuman primates and later for human hunter gatherers, but it has worked far less well as cultures became more complex.
- ANTONIO DAMASIO, Assessing the Value of Buddhism, for Individuals and for the World, NYT, AUG. 7, 2017


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