irrational thinking

The value of irrational thinking

ducktales I've been playing the re-mastered version of Ducktales lately. It's a game which brings back fond memories of my childhood. On one of the levels, the miners are afraid of sounds coming from the mine, so they leave. Scrooge insists that there is a rational explanation and eventually gets to the bottom of the mine, where he discovers a race of underground dwellers who've been causing the noise. Afterwards he tells his nephews how there was a rational explanation for everything, at which point one of them dryly observes that a race of people in the Earth who don't like diamonds is a perfectly explanation. I thought it was an interesting point to make, especially as I'm currently reading Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely, which explores just how prevalent irrational behavior is.

Rational thinking is a bit overblown in my opinion. We use rational thinking to explain why we've chosen to undertake a particular action or made a decision, and conveniently ignore the emotional, irrational factors that play a role in our decision making process. And while there might be a rational explanation for everything, it doesn't necessarily mean that explanation is the best explanation out there. There's a presumption that being irrational is bad or that it makes you less in control of a given situation, but I'd argue that what irrationality can provide are alternative explanations that may not overtly make sense, but nonetheless provide a different way to view a given situation and can actually help you find solutions to your problems. It may not be a rational solution, but why stick with rationality?

In one sense, I think the reason rationality is so prized is because it's perceived as a negation of everything that doesn't conform to a neat little package of the universe. Rational thinking has an explanation for everything, or promises that it will, and those explanations will be packaged in a nice safe way that makes sense to everyone. Irrationality isn't necessarily safe. It embraces the unknown and explores the possibilities that the answers may not be known or may not fit conventional thinking. Irrational thinking embraces the validity of believing in spirits as being a reasonable (if not rational) explanation.

I'm not much for rational thinking because I've never found it to be as useful as some people portray it. A lot of my work has come from being deliberately irrational and using the irrational perspectives to gain insight into what I'm working on. I think rational thinking has its time and place, but so does irrational thinking! Embrace irrationality for the possibility of unusual perspectives and non-rational solutions. And explore irrational thinking so that you can understand how you already engage in it, and thus can makes changes in that thinking, if you so desire.