We’re really good at catching cheaters

July 15, 2011

I just finished reading Wall Street iconoclast Nicholas Nassim Taleb’s Fooled By Randomness, which was basically a toned-down precursor to the inflammatory (yet highly accurate) Black Swan. A particularly interesting thing that Taleb mentions is that a lot of human irrationality comes from modularization, or using different parts of the brain for different situations. Some parts of the brain, especially those geared towards abstract reasoning, tend to be weaker for most. However, the part that we use to catch cheaters happens to be exceptionally strong.

I found this interesting enough that I made a mental note to research it some time. Fortunately, the next book I picked up, Malcolm Gladwell’s Tipping Point (I’m going through books pretty quickly at this point) referenced a study on this exact thing! So here goes:

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