Monthly Archives: August 2010

Some habits are 35 million years old …

I love TED and I hope you’ll enjoy this particular video on there. TED is a kind of thinking man’s Coronation Street, or brain food. Quite a few people have been on there talking about the concepts of behavioural economics from Rory Sutherland (who’s now on TED twice) and Dan Ariely (of Predictably Irrational). Laurie Santos brings a bit of a different slant to a similar (but still fascinating) subject. Her study was into primate psychology and has been dubbed monkeyonomics (after the wonderful freakonomics).

What’s different about Laurie’s talk is the idea that some of our terrible human habits might be 35 million years old. The basis for some of why we eat too much, smoke too much, munch our way through stale popcorn at the cinema, don’t save up for the future etc. etc. can lie in some behavioural traits that date back to when we were primates. Our travel habits, such as the heads-down commute, have the same genesis and hence there is no wonder when we have 35 million years of baggage that perhaps we have trouble shaking off some of our old habits. There’s truth to the adage that old habits die hard. But I hadn’t quite realised how old some of these habits are. The dice are loaded against us, so no wonder we need quite a lot of help to help ourselves.

Hope you enjoy this as much as I did.