Why is this “ cognitive load ” relevant to issues of living more sustainably and the bottlenecks of the 21 st century? For numerous reasons, not the least of which is that we will increasingly be bombarded by what feel like bizarre events and factoids in the news. Thinking about how best to impact the future requires incurring so much cognitive load that it can feel like we have no bandwidth left with which to impact the future. And as economic pressures grow, the mental effort of worrying about how to put food on the table – even if it ’ s fruit salad - will tend to crowd out the intellectual (and moral) concerns about future generations, species loss, healthy ecosystems etc. TaaL: Cognitive load is something to pay attention to. Do you really want your airline pilot worrying about his cheating wife when he should be checking whether the flaps are configured for landing? Since it ’ s a real thing, you need to learn to manage it as a real thing. It ’ s an evolutionary gift you don ’ t want, and one that just keeps on giving: Bad decisions lead to more cogload, which lead to more bad decisions, and so on in a self- reinforcing spiral. Before you know it, most of your options seem to be bad ones. And hey, this book is chockablock full of cogload, so don ’ t try making any decisions while processing it. Learn to do critical thinking apart from normal stress. Surf the waves. The Bottom Line: Our brains have limited short-term processing power and start to bog down after 4-5 concurrent chunks of information, and noticeably at 7.
Summary: It ’ s an understatement to say that animals care more about the present than the future. All organisms have been created by the mindless attrition of past evolutionary time, which has nothing to DO with the future. Indeed, most organisms not only have no concept of a future, but no brains at all. Those which do have brains exist in a perpetual “ now ” of sensory integration and triggered heuristics (rules of thumb). A bird doesn ’ t
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