Take Away – Time to accept that we know a little bit about behavior — but not much. But at least we are on the path to finally have a fact and evidence-basis for future work.
We Have No Idea What Drives Behavior and What We’re Sure Does – Probably Doesn’t
I have a radical, but sensible (evidence-based), proposition – most of our ideas (all?) about human behavior are wrong and obsolete.
Brain research changes everything — just like the telescope and accurate data about celestial bodies did centuries ago — and attacked by everyone, especially those in power. The average curious HS student knows more about brain >behaviors then Aristotle, Descartes, Kant, Adam Smith, Einstein and all the great midst of the past — combined.
We have to accept that pretty much everything academics, businesses, marketers, policy, ideology, intuition and pop beliefs preaches and follows is just dead wrong. This probably also includes accepted psychology, economics (of course), sociology, anthropology, political science, cognitive theory, etc. Throw it all out. I come to this not ad hoc but from years of looking for some predictive ideas and methods and coming up, much better educated, but empty handed. As an opportunistic marketer, with some important problems that need solving (see www.retirementscholar.com) — I wish it was otherwise. Common knowledge in academics, business and policy mainly is intuitive accepted, popular ideas, like emotions drive behavior, that quickly are debunked when the science is held up to them.
Science on the other hand has more and more data but we know a lot but we don’t yet have provable theories for any animal, let alone humans. Lots more work to do.
So in the dustbin of history go all our past ideas about human, and animal, brain > behavior stuff.
Of course, what we actually have is a frantic effort by everyone to find a brain basis for the beliefs they get paid for and believe in. Believe in with no more evidence than self-help platitudes. At this point you can tack the word neuro- and “behavioral” on any book, conference, lecture or silly idea and the world is impressed (aka you get money for it). That’s normal for new ideas. It is also a predictable waste of time.
So trying to fit classical econ, philosophy, history, business practices and theory to the growing facts about the animal brain is no more useful than supernatural/religious/magical beliefs of the past.
It is human nature to work real hard to force fit old ideas in new bottles and call the brew – “new.” Of course, the old ideas still “taste” stale and way past their expiration date. Let’s just wipe the slate clean and start with “…the fact’s mam, just the facts.” RIP to all the old ideas.
No this fact is immediately and deeply threatening to pretty much everyone — especially power holders. So the empty incantations we (supposedly live buy) and swap socially and that accompany the ways we earn our livings feel like they are air and water and MUSt be true — and actively defended. Our brains actually cannot tolerate any of these very old fashioned ideas being critically discussed, let alone questioned.