Feeling Bad for Someone Makes You Less Smart

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Feeling Bad for Someone Makes You Less Smart

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So that's how con-men trick you out of your money.

I've seen enough grifter movies to know how it's done. The long cons involve a lot of planning, sure, but the short way to nick a few bucks is to play the sympathy card. "My car broke down and I lost my wallet." "My baby is sick and some jerk just stole my purse with the medicine." Charlatans keep using these tricks because they work, and researchers may have finally proved why. The human brain can be thought to have two systems, one is the analytical system that deduces solutions to problems involving math or logic, and the other is where emotional empathy comes from. Anthony Jack, a professor from Case Western Reserve University, conducted a study published this week in NeuroImage and the results seem to prove that both systems in the brain can't work at the same time.

"Empathetic and analytic thinking are, at least to some extent, mutually exclusive in the brain," said Jack. "This is the cognitive structure we've evolved."

The study took 45 college students and asked them to answer problems while having their brains scanned by an MRI machine. Half the problems dealt with responding to emotions or to think about someone else might feel, while the others required physics to solve. The images produced by the MRI scan showed that parts of the brain we know to be associated with analytical thinking shut down when solving the social problems and vice versa. This process is called neural inhibition.

"We see neural inhibition between the entire brain network we use to socially, emotionally and morally engage with others, and the entire network we use for scientific, mathematical and logical reasoning," said Jack. A healthy brain is one that can switch between the two networks to have a well-rounded response.

The experiment might mean more than just knowing why con-men ply their trade the way they do. Jack thinks this knowledge could be used to change the way we treat disorders like autism. "Treatment needs to target a balance between these two networks. At present most rehabilitation, and more broadly most educational efforts of any sort, focus on tuning up the analytic network," he said.

Also, people in leadership positions need to realize the separation. "You want the CEO of a company to be highly analytical in order to run a company efficiently, otherwise it will go out of business," he said. "But, you can lose your moral compass if you get stuck in an analytic way of thinking.

"You'll never get by without both networks."

Someone tell that to the next games publisher who lays off half a studio after it ships a successful game.

Source: Eureka Alert

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I need to stop feeling bad about myself, but that's hardly news.
Inb4 "liberal agenda"

Greg, quit thinking of game development as a 9-5 job; it isn't. It's contract work. You don't keep a roofer on your payroll for a few months after he's finished your new roof. If a problem arises, you call him in again, then he's off to some other contract.

Actually, wouldn't it be nice if game devs were held responsible for their work in much the same way as a roofer?

I'm all analytical over here. Is it wrong of me to want to get into some sort of accident, nothing actually serious, so I have a legit reason for my insurance to cover an MRI of my brain?

I genuinely didn't know this, interesting.

So... lesson here is, don't show any sympathy or empathy and one won't be scammed via feelings and you'll be all the smarter for it. Easy enough.

Interesting but of all the studies I have seen this one seems the most likely to be wrong because of the use of only collage students. integrating emotional and logical thinking is one of the things that take longest to learn. Also school tends to discourage it as very few classes want anything but analytically thinking and discourage distractions.

The title is taking liberties with the content again. Yeah, big surprise, I know.

Anyway, you have different types of thinking, that is not to say one must be inherently "smarter".

Thinking about how other people feel is still thinking, and people who aren't able to do that are going to be routinely accused of stupidity.

Now, one might argue that people might have an imbalance one way or the other, which would cause problems, yes, but that's not the same thing.

This is something I always had a strong feeling about, but it's nice to know that there's people figuring out the science behind it. When someone approaches me with dilemmas proposed in the OP, it always causes an internal struggle. It's actually like both sides fighting for the foreground, figuring out whether it's bullshit but simultaneously feeling like I'd be a dick if I let them continue to suffer.

If it's someone who's on the sidewalk though, clearly looking like they aren't doing well, I'll take my chances and spare the few bucks. I would only get a coffee or something with it anyway. Actually, one time a guy asked me "Hey, there's a $5 deal going on at Stake & Shake for a burger and fries with a milkshake, can you help me out?" I was hungry anyway, so I went with him and ate there, chatting for a couple hours. He said it was the best night he'd had in a long time and honestly, I couldn't buy much better happiness than that for 6 or 7 bucks.

But then there's always this...http://www.wilx.com/home/headlines/SPECIAL_REPORT_South_Lansing_Panhandling_Group_--_is_it_a_Scam_149063045.html

Idk about this, I mean the study seems half-arsed at best. 45 subjects, and the test was strictly divided (as in, a question about emotions had nothing to do with logic, vice versa) which means that it's not really very surprising that the half of your brain that isn't being used "shuts down".

I mean, why WOULD the emotional half be active while you're solving an equation?
The only way to prove that they in some way inhibit eachother would be to have scenarios/questions where you would be forced to use both halves at once, and I don't think it's easy to do that under controlled circumstances.

thaluikhain:
The title is taking liberties with the content again. Yeah, big surprise, I know.

Anyway, you have different types of thinking, that is not to say one must be inherently "smarter".

Thinking about how other people feel is still thinking, and people who aren't able to do that are going to be routinely accused of stupidity.

Now, one might argue that people might have an imbalance one way or the other, which would cause problems, yes, but that's not the same thing.

I was going to say the same thing. The title has nothing to do with the actual content, and it's even insulting in its own way.

What was also exempt from the article as a whole was that, while one side of the brain does account for things like math, logic, reading, etc, the other (the part that makes you 'less smart') takes over for stuff like music, arts, and creativity in general.

The thesis of analytical and empathetic thinking being mutually exclusive does raise interesting questions in terms of artificial intelligence. Our devices are intended to work similarly to the human train of thought, based on binary logic. If we now assume the human brain is unable to have empathy run properly alongside said binary logic, it might well be possible that artificial intelligence will be solely logical - which then again leads to machines being superior to humans and concludes with singularity causing the end of humanity.

Uhm ... QED?

I love how everyone can grab an idea in neurological research and twist it into a single, sensational fact.

Also, is that "We're only using 10% of our brain" thing still around?

So cold, calculating people are better at calculating... derp.

Well it explains why im so dumb, im the sort of guy who sheds a tear when he steps on a ant...

FEichinger:
The thesis of analytical and empathetic thinking being mutually exclusive does raise interesting questions in terms of artificial intelligence. Our devices are intended to work similarly to the human train of thought, based on binary logic. If we now assume the human brain is unable to have empathy run properly alongside said binary logic, it might well be possible that artificial intelligence will be solely logical - which then again leads to machines being superior to humans and concludes with singularity causing the end of humanity.

Uhm ... QED?

Prove that logical reasoning is better then empathetic reasoning at all times then it might be QED, but otherwise the proof would be incomplete.

"Empathetic and analytic thinking are, at least to some extent, mutually exclusive in the brain," said Jack. "This is the cognitive structure we've evolved."

Jack is one smart Jack.

However, the title of the article sorta-kinda infer that it's "brilliant to be a jerk".
I know some brilliant-yet-condescending people. Trust me. It's not very Darwinian to look down on the masses.

"Love thy neighbor" is good advice. But neighbors aren't total strangers by any lenght.

Presumably by the same token that's why we can't think clearly when angry or upset.

And now I have a Scientifically verifiable excuse for never helping anyone ever again.

Thank you Science, what would I ever do without you?

Now I just need to work on not getting so easily pissed off, and I'll officially be the perfect human being.

Go Team Sociopath!

My grandmother loves to help those in need....

By offering to actually get them food if they're asking for cash to eat with, so she knows right were the money is going. It's simultaneously hilarious and disheartening to see how many people turn away from her if she's not dropping cash in their hands.

By the same note if I'm dropping money for charity I drop it at a local charity or soup kitchen to make sure that the people who need it get it.

"Years ago my mother used to say to me, she'd say, "In this world, Elwood, you must be," - she always called me Elwood - "In this world, you must be oh so smart, or oh so pleasant." Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. You may quote me."

And I did!

And that's all I have to say, because this article made me think of that quote and I can't think of anything smarter to say because I'm too busy feeling bad for people all the time probably.

I could have told you this, so could about 10 women who have fallen for my sad-eye routine. alcohol and pity are powerful allies.

the title is a bit misleading.

it is just a reharsh of this side is responsible for this and that side responsible for that.

but does it really make you less smart? i think not.

I think a better picture for this article would be good and bad Kirk fighting, rather than the alien that eats people from the Twilight Zone.

Not looking forward to the reaction from Objectivists. "See? See? We were right! Science says so!" Ugh...

Daymo:

FEichinger:
The thesis of analytical and empathetic thinking being mutually exclusive does raise interesting questions in terms of artificial intelligence. Our devices are intended to work similarly to the human train of thought, based on binary logic. If we now assume the human brain is unable to have empathy run properly alongside said binary logic, it might well be possible that artificial intelligence will be solely logical - which then again leads to machines being superior to humans and concludes with singularity causing the end of humanity.

Uhm ... QED?

Prove that logical reasoning is better then empathetic reasoning at all times then it might be QED, but otherwise the proof would be incomplete.

This depends on the definition of "better" - which in itself is a logical construct and thus lies on the side of the machines in the aforementioned scenario.
I'm mostly referring to "more efficient" here, however - which logical reasoning is, based on the fact that it is what is needed to make a machine execute any action - and thus the larger resulting capacity of the machines would enable them to execute more of these actions than the human brain occupied with other functions.

I think that the moral compass for most CEOs has gone out the window a long time ago.

I haven't read the article, yet. I was laughing too much at the awesome "Twilight Zone" picture

I was in Baltimore for a conference a while back, and a guy walked up to me and said his car was towed, and he needed a twenty for the bus. I said, no, sorry, I don't carry cash (true statement), and went on my way. General puzzlement as to what bus costs $20, but whatever.

The next day, a different guy approached me and said his car was towed, and he needed a twenty for the bus. I said no, I don't carry cash, and went on my way.

By the end of the week, after hearing the exact same story from more than a dozen different guys, anytime someone approached me and looked me in the eye, I'd say, "Let me guess: your car was towed and you need a twenty for the bus." They'd smile, shrug, and keep walking.

FEichinger:

Daymo:

FEichinger:
The thesis of analytical and empathetic thinking being mutually exclusive does raise interesting questions in terms of artificial intelligence. Our devices are intended to work similarly to the human train of thought, based on binary logic. If we now assume the human brain is unable to have empathy run properly alongside said binary logic, it might well be possible that artificial intelligence will be solely logical - which then again leads to machines being superior to humans and concludes with singularity causing the end of humanity.

Uhm ... QED?

Prove that logical reasoning is better then empathetic reasoning at all times then it might be QED, but otherwise the proof would be incomplete.

This depends on the definition of "better" - which in itself is a logical construct and thus lies on the side of the machines in the aforementioned scenario.
I'm mostly referring to "more efficient" here, however - which logical reasoning is, based on the fact that it is what is needed to make a machine execute any action - and thus the larger resulting capacity of the machines would enable them to execute more of these actions than the human brain occupied with other functions.

This is such a ridiculous argument. The cyborgs will prevail because they can have all the benefits of each with none of the detriments.

Azuaron:
This is such a ridiculous argument. The cyborgs will prevail because they can have all the benefits of each with none of the detriments.

Weeeell, now that is an interesting idea. I was keeping it simple with machines or humans, but of course, cyborgs are an entirely different league.

Earthmonger:
Greg, quit thinking of game development as a 9-5 job; it isn't. It's contract work. You don't keep a roofer on your payroll for a few months after he's finished your new roof. If a problem arises, you call him in again, then he's off to some other contract.

Actually, wouldn't it be nice if game devs were held responsible for their work in much the same way as a roofer?

Except that many times development studios are wholly purchased by a publisher, who then gets to call all of the shots in how the game is made.

To extend your analogy here, if a roofer worked for a company who trained all of their workers to only ever do 40' by 60' roofs, would you hold the worker or the company responsible when he couldn't do a satisfactory job on your 60' by 100' roof?

OT: What if the kids just sucked at physics? I'm not that great at the sciences, even though I always had a fairly firm grip on math all the way up through Calculus. Regardless, it doesn't seem like this would have a long-term effect unless there's information that we're missing, so the title appears to be misleading.

Now I feel empathy for people in need, but I don't give them money. Now where do I stand?

I don't trust people I meet on the street to be honest with me, I don't let anyone borrow my phone, I don't give them money, but I do feel sorry for them and sincerely wish them the best. I am however aware of that I barely have enough to get by as it is so I'm not able to give them my money.

That doesn't make a lot of sense. In the long run, being an asshole or apathetic will only hurt you. If you're a nice and empathetic person, you get friends AND you feel happy. With friends, you get opportunities. With opportunities you are more likely to achieve success. There is a logic behind kindness.
Being nice may not make sense if you're looking for guaranteed short-term profit, but I've never seen a case where being greedy or being an asshole has payed off in the long run.

Also, the title is misleading. This study is only saying that empathy temporally impedes your reasoning, not make you "less-smart".
The only thing that can make you "less-smart" is some form of brain damage.

DVS BSTrD:
I need to stop feeling bad about myself, but that's hardly news."

This is actually...really interesting..

Does feeling bad for -yourself- count as feeling bad? As in, over empathizing with yourself making you less smart, and able to correct your mistakes, because you're toiling too much in your sorrow, and it's like a vacuum, and you can't get out, and AHHHHHH :0

>_>

Also

"You want the CEO of a company to be highly analytical in order to run a company efficiently, otherwise it will go out of business," he said. "But, you can lose your moral compass if you get stuck in an analytic way of thinking.

Meanwhile, companies all around the world laughing their asses off twirling their money sacks "we care, derp derp"

Greg Tito:

Feeling Bad for Someone Makes You Less Smart

I don't know why but after reading this article I feel like this video is relevant....


At 50 seconds in....
Our knowledge has made us cynical, our cleverness hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery, we need humanity. More than cleverness, we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities life would be violent and all would be lost.

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