Psychology professor Robert Provine participated in this year’s annual question on Edge.org, which features a collection of online essays that is later published as part of a high-profile and top-selling series of books for a general audience. Contributors each year are leading scientists, philosophers and artists and the event draws global news coverage.
This year’s question was “What scientific idea is ready for retirement?” In his response titled “Common Sense,” Provine writes about behavioral and brain science: “We fancy ourselves intelligent, conscious and alert, and thinking our way through life. This is an illusion. We are deluded by our brain’s generation of a sketchy, rational narrative of subconscious, sometimes irrational or fictitious events that we accept as reality.”
Provine goes on to write: “Our lives are guided by a series of these guesstimates about the behavior and mental state of ourselves and that, although imperfect, are adaptive and sufficiently accurate to enable us to muddle along. However, as scientists, we demand more than default explanations based on common sense. Behavioral and brain science provides a path to understanding that challenges the myths of mental life and everyday behavior.”
Robert Provine has participated in Edge.org’s annual question for several years. To read “Common Sense” and all of his essays from prior years, click here.