Culture

The Very Simple Explanation Of Why We Make Silly Mistakes

by Andre Grant

March 7, 2017

The human brain is a wonderful, weird, and totally perplexing organ.

While scientists have sent people to the deepest parts of the ocean and to the moon and back, they still cannot tell you all the secrets lurking right inside our heads.

“I can't tell you—nor can anyone else—how the brain functions as an information processing organ,” Dr. Thomas Insel, the Director of the National Institute of Mental Health, explained in a 2015 talk about the $300 million Brain Initiative project.

Simply put, unlocking the secrets of the human mind has proven to be difficult (and expensive).

Take our propensity to make errors, for example. Picking the wrong answer, falling off a step, or miscalculating when a light will turn red can be infuriating, but there’s a good reason why our minds sometimes muddle even the easiest tasks: It’s how they work.

Derek Muller, a physicist with a Ph.D. in research from the University of Sydney, explains the mistake-prone phenomenon in quirky, easy-to-understand style on his YouTube channel, Veritasium.

Titled “The Science of Thinking,” the video digs deep into the functions that control the human mind. More importantly, it speaks to how two critical systems in the brain work together to achieve the kind of precision that created both the great pyramids and wrote symphonies, as well as the kind of error that plowed the Titanic into an iceberg in the middle of the Atlantic. (Though, that last one, is now up for debate.) Watch the video below to make yourself feel a little better about that silly typo or failing a quiz in the ninth grade.

The Science of Thinking via Veritasium

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The Very Simple Explanation Of Why We Make Silly Mistakes