TED Conversations

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?


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 5 2013: The " authority " become authority must fit for the public and the authorities.

    I don't think my answer is too "chinese" because every country no matter how democratic it is, also have its spirit wich need the public to support.

    For individuals, i think the " decision " comes from 3 parts : objective knowledge , personal value and popular atitude . We cannot live without circumstance so our decision must be effected by public.

    I think the percent of the three parts are : 60% , 20% , 20% .

    The knowledge is the basic ,our value or public comments both follow their knowledge ,because of knowledge ,we can find the criterion to juge the incident.

    The reason why the individual equal to the popular value because of the extent of lazy and courage.

    Your own knowledge > average knowledge (for the incident )

    Your will be able to query the guidance of public opinion.

    Your own knowledge < average knowledge (for the incident )

    You cannot come up with a different idear ,because you are even not to think about the other angles.

    So i think decide our minds is the knowledge we accepted or accepting .

    We can raise another aspect .We can deny the conclusion . We can reverse the fact .

    We can be the authority as long as we master the knowledge we need ,and the public should need .

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