These brains were made for thinking
While I was driving a long distance on a country road last week, I started analyzing the behavior of other drivers. They were mostly really annoying. The road is mostly too narrow for passing, so there's a lot of waiting for slower drivers and cursing faster drivers.
It's not news: some people drive too fast and take crazy chances, and some people drive too slow and make everyone else nuts.
It reminds me of a joke: the definition of a crazy person? Someone who drives faster than you do. The definition of an idiot? Someone who drives slower.
So I started thinking about how each driver has a system of ideas that explain/justify his behavior:
- I have the right to drive slowly because I respect the rule of law.
- I have the right to drive fast because speed limits are just indications, meant for trucks in the rain.
- I have the right to do whatever I want because everybody else is doing whatever they want.
And so on.
Then I realized (and this is just the interim realization) that the reason driving is so annoying is that every driver has his own system, and they don't work well together.
We have a set of laws governing driving and traffic, but they need a lot of interpretation. We all interpret them differently.
If we could come up with some sort of consistent driving etiquette, we could all relax.
Then (I had a lot of time on my hands) I thought: "you're overthinking this."
And I had the (final) realization: our brains are made for finding order in chaos. Driving is inherently chaotic, and since you have free time to think, you automatically start trying to understand what the rules of the situation are, how the whole thing works.
There are no rules, there is no way that it works. Other people drive erratically, and there's nothing you can do to understand or make sense of it.
And life is like that a lot. We have too much free time and we (at least some of us) get really invested in understanding the various systems. We detest chaos.
But chaos it is, and we're -- often, but not always -- wasting our time trying to find the order in it.
Related: the Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy
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