A Smash Up of Genetics, Culture, Church, and Family

While we’re on the topic of dogs, birds, and moral machinations, here is a worthy read at the New Yorker regarding personal tastes and the smash-up of genetics, culture, family, church, history, and probably, the weather.

Written by Louis Menand, he dismisses the genetic component of taste, which I forgive him for. If we are talking about the sensation of taste – the glories of a wild blackberry pie – then there is some genetic component that must be addressed. Vultures, after all, are born thinking that liquefied intestines at room temperatures are a great meal, fit for the king of birds.  I can’t say for sure, but I don’t think many human babies will give that one the thumbs-up. I’m not even sure how you argue that taste in the sense of liking something doesn’t have a genetic component. How many of our likes or dislikes are driven by our need for tribal acceptance? The whole question gets messy.

From Where?

Still, it’s an insightful read. Why do we like the things that we do? Here are a few reasons:

Circularity:        “I like this stuff because I like it!”
Packaging:         “This has to be better. Look at the box!”
Suggestibility:   “Look at her. She likes it!”
Priming:              We tend to like stuff that we tell ourselves we will like.
Oneupmanship: We lie to ourselves, so no one will know what a bore we are. Caviar?

This all helps me to see the wonder of Mari Kondo and her The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. In the New Yorker article, the writer argues that most people blurt out a desire or opinion before there is any chance that they could have thought enough to form one: We love this. We hate that. This is too brown. This one? Not brown enough. Mari Kondo has a different plan: hold that pair of socks. Think about wearing them. Do they bring you joy and make you smile? Do they make you cringe? What experiences have you had when wearing them? You answer supports keeping them or tossing them.

Then there’s my wacky old pal, Wayne Dyer. I really don’t think he ever had an opinion about what decision you made. He just asked that you make one. That you don’t live as your Grandparent’s robot, thinking and doing whatever is expected of you.

My Plan

Interesting stuff. Here’s another way to make a decision. Make it once. Then stick with it. It works for me.

How about you? How do you make decisions about these things?

Cheers and enjoy!

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