Cake and the Collapse of Rationality

Sarah T sent me a really interesting radio lab piece that talks about the difficulty of holding onto will power when under mental stress. Follow the link below to listen:

“There’s constant competition between the rational brain and emotional brain, they’re always competing… to direct your behavior.”

I wish that more theory was presented on how to overcome the emotional battalion within us. It seems like the odds are stacked up against rationality. A few weeks back I learned about confirmation bias, the tendency to enter into a situation and be blinded to evidence which counters your original perception. And then there’s cognitive dissonance where we rationalize uncomfortable situations, sometimes unjustifiably so, in order to try and maintain mental stability.

And now this.

Now the rational brain can be defeated with nothing more complex than a phone number.

Though in this particular case, where fruit is presented opposite chocolate cake, perhaps we should take comfort* in the words of Renaissance writer Michel De Montaigne: “There are some defeats more triumphant than victories.”

*cognitive dissonance anyone?

4 thoughts on “Cake and the Collapse of Rationality

  • 2/3/2010 at 11:34 am

    I think that the theory on overcoming the emotional battle is called Vulcan philosophy.

  • 2/3/2010 at 12:24 pm

    I’ve heard this Radiolab before, I LOVE it. Most definitely worth a listen.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *