Sunday, February 10, 2013

Do the Best Lawyers have Excellent "Slow" Brains?

We were born with a fast brain, but we need a slow one to advance civilization, among other things. I am talking about insights of behavioral economics being applied to lawyer decisonmaking and judgment, and I think the answer to my question is "yes".  Indeed, I think the insights of behavior econonomics put a whole new and important gloss on the tired adage, "Thinking like a lawyer."   

We cover the basics of this topic in my 1L Legal Professions class.   Apparently, it resonated with one of my many attentive students, as he/she  sent me this amazing science video.  It boils down all of Dan Kahneman's brilliant Thinking, Fast and Slow treatise into four very engaging minutes.  This is a vegetable that tastes like chocolate.  (H/T to a wise anonymous 1L at Indiana Law.)

[posted by Bill Henderson]

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Bill, it brings to mind what Abraham Lincoln (a great lawyer) said about his own mind.

"Mr. Lincoln was as curious as he was attentive - especially concerning human nature. Historian Allan Nevins wrote: 'His mind was a countryman's mind; slow, careful, serious, and intensely tenacious, sagacious rather than shrewd, clear rather that clever, given to flashes of humor chiefly because its profound earnestness would have been insupportable without some break. Its quintessential quality was as plain to the unlettered rustic as eventually it became to James Russell Lowell and William Cullen Bryant: it was a dogged desire to learn the exact truth about everything and anything, and a delight in the reasoning process as a means of apprehending truth. Friend Joshua F. Speed "once remarked to him that his mind was a wonder to me - That impressions were easily made upon his mind and never effaced - "no" said he 'you are mistaken - I am slow to learn and slow to forget that which I have learned. My mind is like a piece of steel, very hard to scratch any thing on it and almost impossible after you get it there to rub it out'."

Posted by: John Steele | Feb 10, 2013 7:19:19 PM

John, your comment is a delight. Thank for bringing those sources to bear. Bill H.

Posted by: William Henderson | Feb 11, 2013 8:05:09 AM

Very interesting. For some reason - perhaps because I've seen so many of them - I'm never fooled by optical illusions anymore, but the, "add 1" thing confused me, exactly because I did notice the numbers change when he moved them off to the right. I knew they were wrong, so I thought it was a trick question. lol. In my field, which is composing classical music, I experience this dichotomy all the time. An initial idea that is solid and appealing - the 1% inspiration - may then take several years to get to the bottom of - the 99% perspiration. If you want to see this in action on an epic scale, get a facsimile of Beethoven's sketchbooks. The slow movement of Symphony #5, which is an incredibly beautiful theme, started out as a trifle he picked up out of the dirt. Over the course of several years, however, he twisted it and turned it into something magical. Same with Ode to Joy; it sounds so simple - like it existed forever - but there are about a dozen earlier versions of it in those sketchbooks, all obviously and objectively inferior to the final version.

Posted by: Hucbald | Feb 11, 2013 1:08:24 PM


"I am slow to learn and slow to forget that which I have learned. My mind is like a piece of steel, very hard to scratch anything on it and almost impossible after you get it there to rub it out."

Abraham Lincoln; Undated; recollection by Joshua Speed; Recollected Words, page 413; originally in letter to William Herndon, December 6, 1866.

Real Lincoln Quotes on Facebook, Sep. 2, 2012.

Posted by: ELC | Feb 11, 2013 1:32:13 PM

I did see it as A 13 C

But I have a quibble is with the line illusion. If you notice in the top and bottom example they measure at the tip of the at each end they measure where the line meats the point and not through the point to the inside of the >. Cheat or ?

Posted by: Herbert Jacobi | Feb 11, 2013 4:47:07 PM

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