Etikettarkiv: consumption

Neuroeconomics gone wild: cognitive psychology anyone?

It seems like a contradiction to ‘outsmart your brain’,  but as as Seattle times report in their article on Neuroeconomics and behavioral economics, the brain is adapted in ways that modernity and its economies are not always in tune with. In short –  we make choces we do not fully understand. Thus this step-by-step run-down let us delve into the predictably irrational behavior that has all economists scratching their bald heads. All but the neruoeconomists, who are having a field day. 

Now a disturbing fact most of you consumption discontents need to point your eyes to is the notion of instant gratification, when buying or consuming stuff, as explained by Jason Zweig from the Wall Street Journal.  We get an emotional kick from buying, so choosing between a Pollock and Nerdrum (Pollock usually out pricing Nerdrum), could be difficult in cases we are talked into something by our brain juice. Zweig recommends silly associational thinking like to add dates and colorful names to financial goals. This sounds awfully like my therapist, talking about tha virtues of cognitive resonance and such.

Will this method make you richer less poor? Ask Zeki who this month delves into the concept of greed, but before reading his meditations I urge everyone to look at what Michael Douglas has to say about the matter.

Taggad , , asks Hans Ulrich Obrist: What will change everything?


Demon curator Hans Ulrich Obrist

Demon curator Hans Ulrich Obrist

John Brockman, the science minded intellectual behind poses his annual query of 2009 to the demon curator Hans Ulrich Obrist. His response to the question ”What will change everything?” is laden with Wallersteinian utopics: 

In order to find a new sense of fulfillment, individually and collectively there will be a tendency towards increasing the number of de-commodified institutions. 

So Obrist tries to delineate a world system analysis based on the notions of de-commodification, proposed by political philosopher Immanuel Wallerstein. And although his text is ripe with Marxist rhetoric enough to make you dizzy, he compiles a great story of art, architecture and common culture that in his words blatantly have transformed the roots of thinking. The ideas that never were are just a way to draw a curved line between reality and the unrealised ideas holding it up. 

French artist Philippe Parreno, was also given the 2009 question to which he responded: 

Could we take the next step by breaking down the strict distinction between reality and fiction: NO MORE REALITY!

(I am not sure what he was smoking while writing this, but my guess is a pink colored toy penguin, bought at Palais de Tokyo. Mmm, raspberry!)

Jokes aside, others answering are Eric Kandel, Richard Dawkins, Terence Koh[!] and Frank Wilczek, check it!

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Buying and unzipping your genes – Steven Pinker + Design darwinisim

Cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker

Cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker

Steven Pinker, professor of psychology at Harvard University explores the field of genomic consumption in an NY Times article and magnificently discusses ways of buying info on your personal predisposition from everything to being an outgoing person to likelihood of getting Alzheimer’s. For $399 you can now check yourself for disease risks and ancestry data, but on the flip side, more complex things such as knowing if you will find happiness, wont be disclosed. Pinker makes the admirable effort of presenting a sane and in depth view of behavioral genetics and implications for the search of our self, an endeavour we both have been pursuing and fearing since the early days of humanity. In the pursuit of who and what we are there is always the will to simplify things: Famous plaeontologuist Stephen Jay Gould was later in his life asked the origins of his interest in biology and could with accuracy pinpoint it to the time his father took him to see the dinosaurs when he was 5.

Bullsh**, says Pinker, it is only the human being trying to understand itself. The real deal is: we have really no idea what constitutes our current personal traits, although genetics is a major part, no doubt. But the nature-nurture matrix is necessary to delve into, since we never really know when and how culture really affects a personal trait or decision we make. Psychologist Judith Rich Harris have, for example, stressed the random ”accidents” in life, dropping a ball or getting dumped by your high school sweatheart. This then translates as an event that catered to your genetic predisposition making you forget some things and remembering other, more vividly.

But important is also to stress the academic fallacies sneaking into this discussion, Pinker mentions a few and but let me also add one important fallacy theory – the Winner’s curse in academic publishing as John Ioannidis writes in PLoS. This principle uses the economic notion of the Winner’s curse looking at the possible exaggeration by researchers when seeking to publish their stuff. By then overselling themselves they might be trumpeting dramatic results that might sound very good, but later prove to be false. the truth might not be as likable or sellable as the exaggeration.

design darwin

Linda Rapell goes Darwin

From the other side of the ring, Swedish design historian, Linda Rampell, offers an interesting freestyle of the commercial and aesthetic components of who we are, or would like to be, in her book The Design darwinism. In it she surfaces the consumption of design as an important formation of homo kapitalismus, the new humanoid she tries to delineate. The most interesting notion of Rampell is that we are producers as well as consumers of the self: we buy our identity, skin color and cultural status, but we likewise try to sell this product that is me, to our peer group and the surrounding society. She also does a little Deleuze-hating by interpreting his his notion of the ”self as becoming” as a fact that further iterates today’s consuming of multi-identities. Wonder what Gilles would think of that!

Anyway: Looking forward to read her next books on the subject, even though this first one was a bit basic. Ending here with a comforting paragraph by Pinker:

Forget the “Gattaca” corporations that scan people’s DNA to assign them to castes, the employers or suitors who hack into your genome to find out what kind of worker or spouse you’d make. Let them try; they’d be wasting their time.

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The way the Brain Buys


Andreas Gursky taps in on consumption

Artist Andreas Gursky taps in on consumption

The finest newsprint on the planet, The Economist, ended the year of 2008 with a great story on why we buy the things we are compelled to buy especially around holidays, and the scary tactics of Wal-Mart and Sainsbury’s when they employ neuroeconomics in the marketplace. The problem as I see it relies mostly in the pushing forward of the concept of privacy, the same could be argued in relation to the fundamentals of personal advertising of the kinds used mostly in new media. Remember the  parellel with the Google debate and how The Evil One they are monitoring you in full, whether you enjoy it or not. Articles Here and here.

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