Friday, May 4, 2007


Thinking about stuff can be an exhausting and unnecessary diversion from reality TV. Lucky for me, my brain has a cheat-mode that lets me make decisions without having to get bogged down with confusing reasoning or so called facts. I call it thought-o-matic, because it's to do with thought and the suffix -o-matic implies automatic, so my brilliant neologism describes automated thought, or thought without effort.

I like the word because it works on so many levels. I invented it not by researching ancient Greek linguistic roots and applying them to form new words, that's too much like hard work. I just lifted the colloquial -o-matic straight from pop culture (which in turn stole it from lazy American entrepreneurs of the 1940s and 50s) then I glued it onto my original thought concept. The important thing is I didn't have to do any difficult thinking, so thought-o-matic is itself a product of thought-o-mation. Self-describing, strangely loopy, and a perfect antidote to thoughtful consideration.

I see thought-o-matic as the grubby scrounging layabout of the decision making family, in order of respectability:

  • Rational evaluation
  • Common sense
  • Intuition
  • Random decision
  • Thought-o-matic
Rational evaluation heads the family because it uses logical reasoning based on facts supported by strong evidence. You can't argue with that. Or so you'd think. Common sense can be reliable because it's often based on historical learning, group intelligence or innate evolutionary psychology. Same thing with intuition, a subconscious reasoning process that seems to produce pretty good results. The boundaries are fuzzy, but you get the general idea.

Thought-o-matic is subtly different. It's when you know you should think about something properly but can't be bothered. You unquestioningly accept the views or beliefs of others because it's so much easier than forming your own. If you come across a fact that contradicts your opinions then you must ignore it, and not waste valuable crotch-scratching-time reconciling new information (see confirmation-bias). Choose the outcome with the greatest short-time benefits, preferably for yourself.

1 comment:

Chris said...

Good word for a great concept. I'd suggest that if your beliefs are thought-o-matic then you shouldn't simply ignore other people's contrary evidence, but should go out of your way to justify them with absurd aterations and special conditions to your own beliefs. The rule should probably be that under no circumstances should you ever shift from a thought-o-matic belief you hold dear.

When Intuition Goes Bad sounds promising. There's so much to write about there! In fact, it has prompted me to post this on my own blog: