Graeme Newell

Stairs Illusion

When our brain gets confused, it rarely pauses to admit it doesn’t understand. Instead, its preference is to quickly reach back into memory, finds something sort of similar, then repeat thought patterns used in the past. Scientists call these little brain shortcuts “heuristics.”

Our brain tends to value EFFICIENCY over ACCURACY. It is perfectly okay if a decision is “sort of” right. Sure, that choice may not be dead on, but it’s probably good enough.

So you know these stairs are not real. You just saw them drawn on the flat pavement, but it doesn’t matter, you still see stairs. Your exhausted little brain doesn’t really want to invest the energy to figure out what’s really going on.

So if you ask your brain to make a choice when it’s confused, distracted, or overloaded, it’s going to make a decision that will tend to value EFFICENCY, not a well-reasoned decision that will be the optimal choice.

Before you make any important choice, carefully gauge your level of distraction. Remember that your brain is always looking for the easy way out.