On Free Will and Decision Making

In Blink by Malcomb Gladwell, the author goes into detail about how we make decisions, and which decisions are made consciously with detailed thought and which are made in what he terms thin-slicing, to represent snap decision making based on, for the most part, our past experiences and our intuition. His stance is that we are better served when we make important decisions without exercising free will, and that free will is best used for the more mundane decisions. The idea, as he explains it, is that we are easily fooled by our own minds because of things like inductive reasoning – being induced to make a certain decision, usually by professional salesmen and marketers – and various forms of circular reasoning when we pretty much spend more time self-justifying than making an actual decision. He recommends that we only use ‘free will’ decision making such as what you describe here for things like choosing where to go to dinner, which movie to watch, and what brand of underwear to buy. In other words, it is far from automatic that we make – as you said with emphasis – better choices through free will. The relative quality of free will decisions is not directly proportional to the amount of free will exercised.

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