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Pabitra Mukhopadhyay

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What leads us to decide?

We need to take decisions in life almost every day. In work or outside of it, life takes us on crossroads where decisions are necessary, without which we cannot move on. It is in these situations we take decisions and we believe that the decisions are independently taken, weighing pros and cons and utilizing our best judgments.

That may not be the case. Our decisions may not be as individualistic as we normally think. Our judgments may not be the best under the circumstances. We are often influenced by authority that comes from an expert or an institution or even a belief system but all of which, either solely or in combination are relied on as of authority. Yale University Psychologist Stanley Milgram, in 1963 published his research paper which measured the willingness of study participants to obey an authority figure who instructed them to perform acts that conflicted with their personal conscience. They went on to impart lethal doses of electricity (as they believed to do) to some other participants just because they were deciding under authority. There are interesting videos available in Youtube which you can check.

We can project this authority beyond science. Religion is one. Market in another. Media is yet another. From small to profound we rely on authority almost obsessively for making decisions and yet think that our decisions are free and independent. If we need a reference for making decision, we should be seeking help from authenticity and not authority and they are different. Authority is beyond question, it regulates where as authenticity is free to be tested and it creates trust.

What leads us to decide – authority or authenticity?

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Closing Statement from Pabitra Mukhopadhyay

It seems that we take help of both authority and authenticity to decide things. It may not even be an either/or choice as the question seeks to see decision making as. At times we can find authority and authenticity merging and at other times, at the very fringes of human choice the decision making may be so spontaneous that our sub-conscious plays a vital role. Moreover, our decision making process works over a range of our faculty, our brain conserves resources/neuronic energy while decision making.

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    Apr 13 2013: Yes... New to TED and really enjoying the caliber of creative and critical, appreciative inquiry here. Looking forward to engaging with this diverse community. Thanks for your thoughtful conversation! May Peace Prevail On Earth.
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    Apr 7 2013: I think, decisions are based on beliefs. You wouldn't be sitting if you didn't believe that the chair would support your weight.

    Why we believe is a good question. Sometimes, we believe because we hear something from an authority, sometimes we believe because of our own experience or evidence (authenticity), sometimes we believe something to achieve a goal (e.g. if we want to sell a product, we must believe that it is useful to someone even if we personally don't use it).

    There is a variety of reasons to believe with a good overview given here
    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/ethics-belief/
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      Apr 7 2013: Thanks for the link Arkady. If one sees it along the belief - thought - feeling - action chain, decisions are based on beliefs. I think my questions starts a little bit down the line, that is, from where that belief is supplied, authority or authenticity. Some commenters maintain, and my dear friend Colleen seems to be one of them, that it can be both or a mixture of both. Well of course it can be so. But even then is that mixture of equal portions of authority and authenticity?
      I have argued that authority does not allow any question or examination of it's righteousness. Authenticity comes from a personal feeling of righteousness which is open to examination and question. Our social systems appear to me to be leaning towards authority and authenticity is not held as of equal importance.
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        Apr 7 2013: Pabitra,
        You write..."Some commenters maintain, and my dear friend Colleen seems to be one of them, that it can be both or a mixture of both. Well of course it can be so. But even then is that mixture of equal portions of authority and authenticity?"

        It depends on the situation, and the decision in question...don't you think?
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          Apr 7 2013: Yes. As in many questions here, the context needs to be defined.
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          Apr 7 2013: I think I have tried to provide the context of the situations. In life, we are presented with choices and we decide one choice discarding others. So it is obvious that our decisions are dependent on the situation.
          I am concerned about the huge preponderance of decisions made under the influence of authority rather than relying on authenticity by which I mean a judgement based on our personal examination of the choices critically.
          I find it hard to accept that the large number of decisions that we make on a daily basis starting from trivial to profound are taken by us after evaluating all available options. I also find it difficult to trust authorities, as experiments show they can make us act like fools at times.
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        Apr 7 2013: Pabitra,
        I agree that we have choices, and decisions are dependent on situations.

        I don't have difficultly trusting most authority/authorities, nor do I think/feel/believe they can "make us act like fools".

        I have choices regarding how I act and react in every situation. Sorry, I cannot understand your concerns as you present them. You seem to want to seperate authority and authenticity, and I perceive them to often be intertwined. It feels like you want to go in circles with this.
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        Apr 8 2013: Pabitra,

        You may be interested to read the famous essay by Willam Clifford followed by William James and others here: http://ajburger.homestead.com/files/book.htm

        Clifford takes your thesis to extreme - he makes an absolute moral rule:
        " it is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence."

        Ironically, he immediately makes 2 exceptions to his "absolute" rule:
        1. "We may believe what goes beyond our experience, only when it is inferred from that experience by the assumption that what we do not know is like what we know."
        2. "We may believe the statement of another person, when there is reasonable ground for supposing that he knows the matter of which he speaks, and that he is speaking the truth so far as he knows it."

        As you see, we HAVE to rely on other people's experience simply because our own experience is always limited. Clifford is the strictest evidentialist I know and even he acknowledges it. If you have trouble relying on other people's opinions, you will have trouble with education.

        There are obvious problems with Clifford's position. 1. How do we justify the assumption that what we don't know is like what we know? 2. How do we make the choice to trust that the other person is knowledgeable and honest? The chain of justifications, authentications, and verifications, has to end somewhere. It's a known problem in computer security.

        Why do you make such a dilemma? I always consider opinions of experts simply as another factor to weigh into my own judgment. When several authorities have the same opinion, it is often considered as an evidence of authenticity. Often, it makes sense to doubt our own perceptions - there is always a possibility that we missed an important detail or misunderstood things. So, checking with other people's opinions is often a wise thing to do.
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          Apr 9 2013: Thank you Arkady for the information about the book, I shall try to get it and read.
          Whenever you consider opinions of experts simply as another factor to weigh into your own judgment, you are actually seeking authenticity. I agree that the chain of justifications, authentications, and verifications, has to end somewhere, but under the influence of authority the chain does not even start.
          When I was in university, I started the idea of student's feedback on teachers' performance. I tried to say that students must compare and test teachers' performances and rate them. The Vice Chancellor called me up in his chamber and told me that we just cannot rate some of the fabled professors as boring, not effective and incomprehensible. He said their reputation and the university's position are beyond refute. I think that's an example of authority. When a country enlists youths for military services in connection with wars with faraway countries and hunts them down in case of their dropping out, I think that is an example of authority.
          I head a team of very talented engineers and scientists to work in a very complex field of science/technology. It is my experience that I can only have the best of their output when they are free to challenge my experience, decisions and ideas.
          I hope you will agree that I am sounding my ideas with you all here, am I not? I am essentially looking for authenticity.
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        Apr 9 2013: You have a valid point. I also favor using my own judgment rather than relying on opinion of an authority to make decisions for me. I have noticed that as I got into habit of doing that, more and more people have started to seek my opinion for making their decisions (my wife is an exception).

        But your question is "what leads us to decide - authority or authenticity?", and the answer is, clearly, "both". Is it wrong or right to use one or the other to make decisions? I don't know. I just know that both ways are used by a wide variety of people in a wide variety of situations. In some cases, it's beneficial to obey authority without question, in some - not. For example, in a combat situation, there is no time to discuss decisions. Troops have to move and act as one. Perhaps, there is a reason for this. I don't like it. You don't like it. This is why we are not in the military. But a lot of people, actually, like when decisions are made for them. Making our own decisions is one of the most stressful activities I know. Not to mention the moral weight of responsibility which makes many people uncomfortable.

        In academic situation, an authority that feels uncomfortable to be questioned is a phony.
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          Apr 9 2013: The answer for me too Arkady, is clearly both authority and authenticity. With my belief and practice of gathering AS MUCH information as possible for decision making, I would not disregard any source in favor of a different source. Considering ALL information provides a better foundation for decision making, which leads to more confidence and contentment with our decision, and less regret.

          I also notice that people seek my opinion, and I suspect the reason for that is because I encourage THEM to seek as much relevant, appropriate, available information as possible before making a decision. I will walk through the process with others, and I very rarely, if ever give advice. I share my stories, experiences, outcomes based on certain choices and decisions, and I firmly believe that the BEST decisions are made by considering all information, so that is what I encourage in myself and others.

          I agree Arkady that some folks prefer letting others make decisions for them, and that relieves them of responsibility, which may, at times, be uncomfortable. The thing is....with the possible discomfort of responsibility, comes the comfort, pleasure and contentment of knowing we, as individuals, can orchestrate our lives. Once we realize this, there may not be discomfort in decision-making.....that is what I experience:>)

          I also feel that questioning is a great resource, and I am aware that some folks are uncomfortable with questions. I think some folks perceive questions as a challenge to their belief system, so it may be uncomfortable to them. In my perception, it is another way to get information:>)
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          Apr 19 2013: If I may jump in; There is another defintion of authority and that is; an authority, one who is an expert. I must admit that I accept the words of people who know what they teach, as authenticity. I realise I might make a mistake in doing this, but it's necessary if I'm to learn anything. So the bridge between authority and authenticity may be the authority, the person who knows.
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    Apr 26 2013: Is any decision we ever take in life ever really our own? of course not.
    During our infancy our parents and relatives take our decisions for us, later on friends, teachers, media, religion, society etc. influence our decisions.
    Our decisions are also based on what we observe and what we experience and these decisions formulate our personality which influences our future decisions.
    What I am trying to say is, most of our decisions are regulated by different sources of authority, so our future decisions are a result of a unique combination of all the above mentioned influences and therefore all our decisions are authentic.
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    Apr 26 2013: I believe that it has a lot to do with where we feel we fit in the chain of command. Those who feel low in the chain of command are going to rely on authority because they want to fit in. Those who feel high in the chain of command are going to rely on authenticity because they want to make decisions that are based on fact. It reverts back to followers and leaders. Leaders take command. Followers follow command. And everywhere in between, it will be a mix according to one's self image of where they fit into the community.
    Education and intellect are also important factors, for without them, one is gullible to false information. So the degree of one's education and intellect will play a factor into whether you are capable of evaluating authenticity. Those who are not are guided by peer pressure rather than one's own will.
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      Apr 26 2013: Thank you Roy. I can sense that you are an insightful person. I think you grasped the contexts of authority and authenticity the way i tried to. I cannot cease to be amazed by the TED audience. :)
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    Apr 13 2013: It is not a matter of right or wrong. The brain makes these calculations and based on the cumulative experiences you make the decision. This is the logic. Does this logic always make the right decision? No! Logic is neither right or wrong, however, one cannot decide without it. At this point of the chain reaction, logic, then, decision.
    Cheers
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      Apr 15 2013: logic gets you from A to B. Imagination gets you everywhere... Albert Einstein
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        Apr 15 2013: I would agree to that, also, I would love to expand. Imagination can lead you to imagine yourself out of reality.
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    Apr 12 2013: There are several cognitive aspects that affect our decision making, some of them are:
    - The amount of options that we have to choose from: Although common knowledge tells us that an increased amount of options increases our utility, I agree with Barry Schwartz's argument that instead of increasing our utility it lowers it. A large amount of options increases the chances of us regretting the decision we made and we are more likely to engage in social comparison.
    - Our past experiences: When me make a decision we consider past decisions. However, our remembered utility is biased in comparison to our actual experienced utility which then makes our decision become biased. When we think about a past experience we only consider the "peak" moments, the happiest and the saddest, and leads us to create a biased memory of the past.
    - The present situation we find ourselves in: The "hungry shopper" example, which tells us that a hungry person will buy more in the super market than a non-hungry person would, shows how we can't predict our decision making since we don't know what our context will be in the future. Even if the shopper plans ahead what he is buying, he will buy more if he goes hungry to the super market.
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    Apr 10 2013: Todays TED.com talk is especially relevant. I saw it live at TEDxRiodelaPlata and loved it! Worth watching!

    http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_ariely_what_makes_us_feel_good_about_our_work.html
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      Apr 10 2013: I agree with you Jose today's talk was great!!
      I would like to contribute the following :
      http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_ariely_asks_are_we_in_control_of_our_own_decisions.html
      ~Regards.
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        Apr 11 2013: Suppose there are 10 different routes from your home to office. Say, your boss, a very wise, intelligent and clever person tells you to take only one particular route everyday. What will you do Juliette?
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          Apr 11 2013: When I feel my boss is "a very wise, intelligent and clever person"....then I'd feel fortunate to have the benefit of their guidance.
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        Apr 12 2013: Dear Juliette, I see that you have used the word 'feel' twice :) So you will not accept your boss as a very wise, intelligent and clever person just because Pabitra says so.
        Cheers!!
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          Apr 13 2013: .....my wise friend PM's advice would weigh into my decision....and probably heavily.. since (I feel ;-) PM is a kind hearted, deep thinker with a genuine sense of concern for the betterment of life for all humanity....
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        Apr 14 2013: Hmm. I really appreciated the big hug :) before it vanished! Can there be a scholarly discussion on how fondness grows, my friend? :D
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          Apr 15 2013: :)Thank you!!
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        Apr 15 2013: Juliette Zhan
        Certainly can
        Make the heart glow

        Feeling or reason
        Seems in the season
        What matters is flow

        In appreciation. This off topic post will be removed in 24 hours.
        Edited. Decision changed. Comment stays. Reader's discretion requested.
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          Apr 15 2013: :)Thank you!!

          p.s. It's all on topic..its authenticity in action...and it is phenomenal to register it through mere electrons and transcend geography...you see...authenticity is boundless (unlike authority)...I'd say this is an infinitely better use of electronics, time, etc.iMO
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    Apr 7 2013: If a person's locus of control (a theory in personality psychology referring to the extent to which individuals believe that they can control events that affect them) is "inside", there is more authenticity in how we approach deciding about things. Trust is teh other key ingredient. If you "trust" an authority over your own level of knowledge about a topic, then going with that trusted authority can be an authentic experience
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    Apr 7 2013: preservation of the "self" and protection of the "ego" are powerful humin priorities for survival AND everyday decision making. The next "A" to consider might be "altruism" (unselfish concern for the welfare of others; selflessness). A balanced respect for: just Authority, thriving Authenticity and healthy Altruism could be the bridges we need to help decide a thing or two :o) I prioritize my decisions by these 4 criteria: impact, purpose, time, economics.
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    Apr 6 2013: Hope.
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      Apr 6 2013: Who provides this hope Juliette? Authority or authenticity?
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        Apr 6 2013: Authenticity.
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        Apr 7 2013: Even when we base decision on authority, it is still based on hope that the authority knows best. I like this answer very much.
  • mary T

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    Apr 6 2013: I'd like to imagine that my decisions are all carefully thought out, based on all the evidence, weighing the various factors, etc., but in many cases, I shortcut that process by looking to the character of the person who presents me with the choice. If my dear brother, for example, asked me to jump in the lake, there's a pretty good chance that I'd jump in the lake. (Substitute "invest" or "support" or "give" for "jump.") Even for him, I ask questions, but not to the same degree. On the other hand, even when the cause is espoused by someone I know and admire, there are certain underlying values on which I am, I hope, immovable. And I try to act, not simply react. To make decisions from the inside out, not reacting only to outside factors but consulting my inner self, the light within.
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      Apr 6 2013: Let me get this right. You mean the situation presents the choice and the character of the person provides the authority? Your brother cannot ask you to jump in a lake unless situation arises that you are near one.
      The person with a character may be a doctor who asks you to take a drug that does more damage than good to you. Can be a company that sells you a shirt that was manufactured in a sweat shop in China. Can be your country that asks you to pull the trigger to kill a person in a war.
      It may be so that you are taking far too many decisions to be consulting with your inner self, the light within, each time.
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    Apr 6 2013: Hi Pabitra:>)
    I believe the best decisions are made when we honestly weigh ALL information with an open heart and mind. Our decisions can be "individualistic" when we "know" ourself, and are willing to consider ALL relevant information.

    If, as you say...."Our judgments may not be the best under the circumstances", we may not be adequately considering ALL relevant information.

    You say..."We are often influenced by authority...". That, in my perception, is part of the information we can evaluate. Consider the source and whether or not we trust the source.

    You write... "...research... measured the willingness of study participants to obey an authority figure who instructed them to perform acts that conflicted with their personal conscience. They went on to impart lethal doses of electricity (as they believed to do) to some other participants".

    If I was getting zapped with lethal doses of electricity, I may change what I'm saying or doing too. That does not seem like very good "research" to me.

    I do NOT rely on anyone else to make decisions for me, NO MATTER what they say. I take full responsibility for the decisions I make. Again...lethal doses of electricity may change my mind about that!

    When I have gathered and evaluated ALL relevant information, and am clear with my "self", I feel good about the decisions I make:>)
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      Apr 6 2013: Hi Colleen :)
      Wish I could have been as confident and capable as you. Up till now, I cannot remember to have taken a decision where I considered ALL relevant information. I Do rely on some people on what they say, I could not, yet, successfully be independent for EVERY decision I take. I guess my question is for people like me and what they will rely on, authority or authenticity.
      In your country the legal system is based on jurors. If I am not wrong a jury is carefully selected from among the society of common people, not experts. I think that implies reliance on authenticity rather than authority.
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        Apr 6 2013: OH sorry Pabitra, I could have said ALL relevant AVAILABLE information. We may never have ALL information, and we can certainly explore to any level we choose to have as much information as possible.....yes?

        I consider information provided by other people.....that is where I get some information, so I am not totally independent in that respect. As I said....I do not rely on others to make decisions for me, and I DO rely on information provided by others.

        To me, authority is part of the information to be considered. Yes, in the U.S., a jury is selected from among the society of common people. I have served as a juror, and in that position, I considered the authority (law), as well as ALL information presented by all parties. I would say that the decision, is both authority AND authenticity ("worthy of acceptance or belief as conforming to fact or reality" (dictionary)). I think many decisions may be based on authenticity AND authority. Why do you need to seperate those concepts?
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        Apr 7 2013: Preservation of the "self" and protection of the "ego" are powerful humin priorities for survival AND decision making. The next "A" to consider is "altruism" (Unselfish concern for the welfare of others; selflessness). A balance between a respect for just authority, thriving authenticity and healthy altruism could be the bridges we need to help decide a thing or two :o) I prioritize my decisions by these 4 criteria: impact, purpose, time, economics.
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          Apr 12 2013: More good information Renee!

          Preservation, protection, survival, altruism, respect for authority, thriving authenticity, prioritize by criteria, impact, purpose, time, economics.......how about preference?

          AND BALANCE with the whole process...... YES!

          BTW...looks like you're new to TED.........WELCOME!
  • Apr 5 2013: Our decisions are influenced by something or someone, if not, we are probably not human.
    The saying "We are one but not the same" comes to mind. We share so much in common with other members of our society, if not, there would have been so much conflict that we'd be in a permanent state of hostility. And we are also experiencing the world from a unique perspective hence the (hopefully) occassional conflict we experience.

    Even deciding not to decide is not the same as indecision. Sometimes we want to be sure because we are afraid to take the so-called 'leap of faith'; sometimes we decide because we have to (the pressing circumstances); sometimes we are sure and our certainty is based on certainty; sometimes we are sure and our certainty is based on convincing illussions and believable lies.

    Our lives oscillates between the two: we decide on authority and on authenticity.
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      Apr 5 2013: Feyisayo, are we free to give up freedom?
      • Apr 5 2013: We should strive to know the meaning of freedom. We will not be content if our perception and understanding of freedom is based on fantasy.
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      Apr 5 2013: We both strive to understand the meaning of freedom and none of us has the answer to the question I asked, I suppose.
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    May 1 2013: I attempt to go with authenticity first and then see if authority confirms it.

    I personally make decisions this way because nothing is ever certain, and all authority needs to be challenged. The so-called 'realities' that authority attempts to establish, are all too likely to become ingrained too deeply into our consciousness, creating belief systems that become less and less willing to move with the times.

    Dismantling and reassembling beliefs in stimulating discussion facilitates authenticity in originality, creativity and speed in intuitiveness - while authority remains static, or clings primarily to the coat tails of a slower logical progression.

    In my humble opinion, as a 'creative type', the decisions I personally make are based on a hierarchy of the broadly intuitive, hopefully through to narrower logic, which may or may not confirm the original intuition. For me at any rate, it has to be that way, and in that order.
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    May 1 2013: I'd just like to add that I believe we make decisions based on the assumption that authority is hand in hand with authenticity. Sometimes though, it seems easier to ignore contradictions to the authenticity of authority as to not take the blame for decisions we make and to protect ourselves from "Thinking too hard," as I believe is evidenced in the Yale experiment.
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    Apr 28 2013: .
    .
    My answer:

    Authenticity first!
    Authority second.
  • Apr 26 2013: I believe that some times decisions are also driven by instinct as well. A strong belief in some individual fundamental lead to decision making.
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    Apr 15 2013: We learn to ask questions from science we learn love from God .
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    Apr 15 2013: "logic gets you from A to B. Imagination gets you everywhere..." Albert Einstein
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    Apr 13 2013: stability I guess, if we are about making a decisions we need to take a rest.. it might give us a good structure to take a positive decision.
  • Apr 12 2013: Circumstances.
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    Apr 11 2013: Another way I approach this question is from the perspective of cognition and information theory. We are constantly creating and changing decision making circuits in our brain, pre-programmed to react in a certain way when presented with a certain stimulus. Such stimulus could be extrinsic (outside of yourself) or intrinsic (the stimulus is from one of your own thoughts - or other decision making circuits).

    Early on in life, we may create one of these decision making circuits that say "Trust authority". As we mature and grow, this circuit may just sit there trusting authority or anything else for that matter, causing you to decide to trust authority. Experience may cause you at some point to invert that circuit - don't trust authority. It is the combined parallel processing of all these circuits that allows us to form coherent thoughts, which vibrate like strings of an orchestra improvising a song in real time.

    Each of us creates our own assumptions like this in order to form a model or view of the world that allows us to interact in it. Through experience, we are constantly rewiring our brain, changing the way we think (or not), and as a result, the way we make decisions and the decisions we would actually make changes over time.
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      Apr 11 2013: Mind-brain programming is a fascinatingly powerful tool. I use a picture of a horse tied to the hand-rest of an empty chair to demonstrate the power of such programming. The horse believes that it cannot/should not challenge the authority of the empty chair and keeps still.
      I am happy that you acknowledge the rewiring of our brain with experience to develop a sense of seeking authenticity and dares to challenge authority. I think you will agree that it is inherently an internal process, hence gut feeling etc.
      It is wise to reach out and grab the hand of a parent when a toddler learns to walk. But soon the toddler learns to walk by himself/herself despite the risk of falling/getting hurt.
  • Apr 11 2013: I believe awareness and goals lead us to decide or not.
  • Apr 10 2013: I can't comment on conscious decision making, nor do I think anyone can understand certain people's decisions; but I do think analyzing one's own decisions on the objective basis of mobility and experience gives something - a bit more tangible compared to ambitions or life plans. This talk ( http://www.ted.com/talks/daniel_wolpert_the_real_reason_for_brains.html ) wonderfully highlights how motor function/control is a combination of previous experience (muscle memory per say) and environmental input (sensory stimulations of given action/situation). Authority:Experience::Authenticity:Environmental Input and therefore, I'm afraid to give the grey answer, but decision making is a fine combination of both.
  • Apr 10 2013: One would hope critical thought, but alas there is not much of that going on. So religious dogma, authority, media manipulation and social trend seems to win the day.
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    Apr 9 2013: The interesting thing about how we make decisions is that our decisions will always be based off of the people around us. We try so hard to have some sort of stature in society and we want to be seen as someone successful, but success is not always the same in every society. Like in America we assume that the best thing for us is to go to school get a good job and make money because those are tenants of American society. What we really want is to be connected to other people and by doing that we take in the opinions of others about what they think success means in order to reach that level of connection. For us to truly decide individually we need to critically think about what is best for us, and in the end the thing that is best for us is the thing that brings us closer together, and to decide based off of others is not necessarily a bad thing, it should only be taken into question when the decisions we make prove to be harmful to others or ourselves.
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    Apr 8 2013: Afraid to take risk so we are afraid to decide. But if we decide either we are pressured. But i hope we decide because we feel we needed to and makes us happy.
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    Apr 6 2013: Hi Pabitra,

    From where I see it - and that's only one angle - it's not as black and white as "is it authority or authenticity". While you rightly said there are multiple sources of authority, I wonder what we mean when we say "authentic". Who decides whether or not something is authentic? Who gives them the authority to decide that?

    Where then, do decisions come from. I'd say they come from all external stimuli that influence our conscious mind and yet most of us take our decisions relying on the signals that our sub- and super conscious give us,

    Hence, if my brother says jump in the lake and my sub- and super-conscious decree that my brother is right and to be trusted, I will. And yet, if my subconscious points out that my brother is not to be trusted, I may/will not jump!
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      Apr 7 2013: It is absolutely I who determines the authenticity, IMO. I examine, evaluate, feel, sense, realize or whatever but authentic is something that passes my tests. Authority is beyond question - it is the very nature of its tag of infallibility that gives something/someone the status of authority.
      The last time you bought a medicine, you possibly did not sound it against your conscience. You saw the label of the pharmaceutical company and vaguely remembered that it is reputed. Also you thought you are buying the right thing for yourself because you have heard about the reputation of the medical doctor and his/her authority over the subject.
      You possibly bought a home in a neighborhood that is good, meaning you trusted the social authority of the locality. The same goes with your car, your bank, your employer, your education. I don't think you have taken a call of your heart while deciding your choices.
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        Apr 7 2013: ummm...HUGE difference between conscience and conscious...i think it's important to acknowledge that first.

        Also, if it is "absolutely I who determines the authenticity" you're saying you are the authority :)

        By the way - again, what supports you to declare something authentic or inauthentic? Stimuli and inputs from your sub conscious. When you declare something authentic, you trust and rely on your judgment. Where does judgment come from? Stimuli to and responses from your sub conscious.

        You're right, the last time I bought medicines, i did not use my conscience as a sounding board, but I did use my sub consciousness to arrive at the decision to buy or not. the "vaguely remembered" part comes from the sub-conscious. The "heard" comes from the conscious.

        Similarly, insofar as "taking a call of your heart while deciding your choices" goes, you'd be surprised at how many choices are made and decisions taken merely due to the call of the heart...Ask every person who's done an impulse buy and then wished they hadn't. Ask every student who's made a career choice listening to those tugging at their emotions (from the heart) and chosen to do something that wasn't their first choice...ALL a beautiful play of the conscious and sub-conscious decisions.
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          Apr 8 2013: Hi Shalu :)
          Yes you are right. I am saying if I am taking a decision and taking the responsibility of its consequences, I better be the authority.
          Regarding taking a call of my heart I'd be honest with you. All life changing decisions I made have remained on personal call of my heart and I hardly regret. But I also make small, practical day to day decisions where authority figures subliminally or openly. I'd say it's fine if we realize that we are taken for a ride and we let the so called authorities to do that. But I shall not like to be deluded that those decisions are truly considered.
  • mary T

    • +1
    Apr 6 2013: Yes, I think that's a good way to put it. I can't spend all my time deciding everything from scratch. So, sometimes I rely on those I trust, whose character and values I know to be like mine. But some things, it doesn't matter who the person is -- at least I hope there are things that i remain true to from my own internal character -- if my brother told me, "please kill ...," I certainly would do no such thing. There is no absolute inside me about taking prescription medicine, so in that instance I would be more likely to rely on my doctor. I just cannot imagine that anyone, not even my brother, could ask me to administer a lethal dose of electricity and I would. Goodness gracious. And you, do you rely on others in making decisions? Can you imagine yourself killing someone in a study?
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    R H 20+

    • +1
    Apr 6 2013: I would agree that our decisions are influenced from the 'store' of our experiences, and therefore "may not be as individualistic as we normally think". The many influences of decision-making you cite are significant. But for me, this is where 'individual freedom' and the 'free will' of adulthood come in. To me, we are not just 'reactive bots' that respond to the stimulus, or the 'professional messages' we are given. We are not just the sum of what we've experienced or have been told. We evaluate those experiences, we use our 'knowing' and our brains and evolve in our lives as humans so we can make better decisions as we learn. The old term 'wisdom' implies that we make individual evaluations of what constitutes 'value' in our lives. No one else can (ultimately) determine what I will do or not do - what I 'decide' - only me. Once I take responsibility for those decisions, then the influences and experiences of my life become only that, not the 'determiners' of what I decide. I would then say that it is neither 'authority or authenticity' which 'leads us to decide'. It is our free will and the totality of our innate/cognitive abilities and learning that leads us to choose the best path as an individual.