Black and White Thinking is an alarm call. Amidst a rising tide of religious intolerance and political extremism, it argues that by understanding the evolutionary programming of our binary brains we can overcome it, make sense of the world and in future make much subtler – and far better – decisions.
It is human instinct to sort and categorize. We are hardwired to discriminate and frame everything in binary black and white. It’s how our brains work. Migrant or refugee? Muslim or Christian? Them or us? Rather than reaching out to those who are different, we bond with those who are similar to ourselves. Rather than challenging our own thinking about the world, we endeavour only to confirm what we believe.
The result is that the difference between polarized beliefs becomes ever greater. Dangerous possibilities arise. The Alt Right. ISIS. Brexit. Trump. Through persistent binary thinking our capacity for rational and nuanced thought – seeing the grey, rather than merely black and white – begins to erode.
What they’re saying…
“When you decide, you divide.”
“People on different sides often agree more than they pretend.”
“When I’m on fire and knocking ‘em in I go into a kind of tunnel-vision mode.”
Lord Sebastian Coe
“The only time I truly shut everything out and didn’t allow myself to think about anything else at all apart from my performance on the track was in the build-up to the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow.”
“There’s only one winner. One trophy. Don’t let them take it away from you.”
Sir Ranulph Fiennes
“Whenever I’m choosing people to take part in an expedition, I always go for character and motivation first and skills second.”
“In this current, right-on era of virtue-signalling, vitriol and victimhood, has evolution sold us a dummy with our big, high-definition, widescreen brains? Should we not, in hindsight, have gone for a cheaper model?”
“We might not be able to draw the exact line between…’man’ and ‘woman’. But that’s not the same thing as saying that men and women don’t exist.”
Professor Stephen Westaby
“That’s where the great surgeons earn their reputations…through the decision-making. It’s through the ability to put one thought in front of the other without thinking.”
“If you ask me, black and white isn’t black and white. There’s shades of grey.”
“Can’t believe he missed that penalty. What a tragedy!” “Oh no, I’ve run out of tea. Disaster!” What do we do when we’re faced with a real tragedy or a real disaster strikes? Our vocab aisles are empty because we’ve panic bought all the überwords.”
“The minimum requirement is maximum commitment.”