When your circumstances make you too stupid to deal with them properly

08 Nov

Heard an interview on CBC Radio 1 “The Current” with Eldar Shafir, one of the authors of Scarcity: Why Having Too Little Means So Much. What caught my attention was the idea that when the human mind is occupied with too many concerns, using up both central and peripheral cognitive bandwidth, there’s not enough margin for decent problem-solving and prioritizing, so we make dumb decisions that don’t help our situation in the long run. Shafir pointed out that while we can step away from certain concerns to get a grip–work, or a diet, for example, the poor can’t take time off from poverty (without taking a high interest loan), and so good decisions sometimes remain inaccessible. Parenting suffers too, so the poor can end up being worse parents because their brains can’t manage the complexity of all that at once. Or parenting/family relations might be the thing using up so much bandwidth, and if there are too many things demanding attention, there’s overload and a kind of paralysis.

I’m in some kind of a fog myself, and sure can’t find the bandwidth to describe it. I keep trying to get the fog lights to work, or at least low beams trained on the bit of ground right in front of me, but I can’t tell how the road curves or branches up ahead, let alone make decisions about my route. I’m trying to write it out, as usual, and dose with caffeine, but, heck–I’m in a fog. That’s all for now.


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2 responses to “When your circumstances make you too stupid to deal with them properly

  1. jdawgsrunningblog

    November 17, 2013 at 8:44 am

    And that is enough–because when it comes to insight and inquiry, a little can be enough. Nice work–and thank you!


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