Primitive and Rational Thinking

In one of his blog posts about politics, Tim Urban mentions the Primitive Mind and the Higher Mind. These are two different modes of our thinking: primitive and rational, respectively.

We use primitive thinking when we feel ourselves in danger and need to act unconsciously; it helps us survive in uncomfortable conditions when we don't have time to think.

Rational thinking is what makes us behave differently than our primal instincts tell us. It seems to be more of a characteristic of educated people.

Funny enough, there is scientific evidence stating that most people tend to use primitive thinking when they dispute about politics, even if they are smart and educated. People often resist changing their beliefs when directly challenged, especially when these beliefs are central to their identity.

When we dispute about politics, our primitive thinking gets over our rational thinking. We take such discussions emotionally. Somehow we enable survival mode in such cases. No matter how intelligent you are, you'll be a subject of primal instincts when it comes to your political beliefs. And it doesn't apply to politics only.

The primary motivation of primitive thinking is to get confirmation; on the contrary, rational thinking seeks truth. And atop of that, we also have what we think, our system of beliefs. And the way we communicate these beliefs depends on our current thinking, primitive or rational.