Friday, May 7, 2010

Thinking Fourth Dimensionally

Great Scots! I really loved the Back to the Future trilogy. I think it would be awesome to find out what may happen in the future, as well as to personally experience what happened in the past. It seems like being able to travel in time would really help me to have greater insight and live life better in the present. Then I might be better at thinking “fourth dimensionally.” Having a flying car would be pretty sweet too.

A couple of books I have read recently have discussed how humans are often not very good at making decisions because we are also not very good at predicting the future. David Dunning’s book about “Self-Insight” says that there are many roadblocks we face to making such predictions. He says we generally underestimate the impact of our possible future emotions. We also view the future in the most utopian of circumstances.

Finally, we often fail to consider available data. For example, there may be a good chance statistically that people who speed in their vehicles will get a ticket at least once a year. Yet if you asked someone who speeds if they think they will get this year, they probably would tell you “no.” Based on Dunning’s book and other research I have reviewed, it seems that people only make realistic predictions when they are required to take the time and explore many different possibilities concerning their predictions.

In the 7th chapter of the book of John, Jesus confronts some people who seem to be making quick judgments. Much like the way we predict the future, the people used very little information to decide that Jesus was demon-possessed. They did not consider the possibility that Jesus might actually be the one who was sent from the God they presumed to be advocating. If they would have taken the time to investigate the circumstances of Jesus’ life and the prophecy of the scripture, they may have been more inclined to believe. To this Jesus tells them: “Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment.”

Unfortunately, driving in my truck at 88 miles per hour is infinitely more likely to result in a speeding ticket than transportation to the future or the past. I guess I am stuck with thinking fourth dimensionally based upon my limited current knowledge. However, I think it is valuable to be aware of our tendency for quick judgments, and to attempt to be more mindful of the consequences involved.

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