We talk about humans behaving irrationally and yet, it’s not in our nature to call ourselves irrational.
This type of thinking was where I began in April 2015, I had a simple thought:
We don’t call ourselves irrational because we aren’t being irrational, not inside ourselves, it is only when being judged by someone else that our actions, decisions and behaviour is irrational. To each of us, it’s just how we do things, our version of self, our version of normal. You can decode irrational to being rational to each individual…
That was the moment I had the idea of Irrational Mathematics and set about studying the Why part of human behaviour and decision making.
I say part but it’s really the vast majority of why we behave as we do and why we make the decisions that we do. It’s no coincidence that computers are built the way that they are, computers mirror how the brain operates as the brain operates as a three tiered processor for how we behave and how we make decisions.
Let’s play a game to bring this to life, imagine the brain of a newborn:
We are 100% conscious, we need to see, to watch, to try, to repeat, we are a conscious learning machine. We are a blank canvas being coded by what is shown and thus what we experience. Like creating an operating system, we need code to know what we do, how and why.
As we learn we understand how to do things and we start to create behaviours. We repeat these behaviours and we adapt them, we adapt because we have to learn the rules of behaviours, the control of emotions and the effect we have on others. This is the subconscious kicking in as the brain evolves. Our OS now has some A.I. freethinking capabilities which allows us to alternate how we behave based on the environment we are and indeed the others that within it. Our decision making becomes a reality and is modified by the risk and rules of others depending on the moment (& our mood).
The next phase is loading these behaviours in the database that we call habits. Now we have the real boss of the party in motion, the unconscious mind, a vast database of action, behaviours, habits and experiences that becomes our database of self, of the choices we make.
Now, this doesn’t go all of the individual's life, it reaches a tipping point around the age of 14 and we move to a life being dictated to us by the database of self, the unconscious.
The unconscious mind is where the real program runs, sure it gets code adjustments once in a while:
14-21 as we move into adulthood we have new choices to lock down around sexuality, music, friends, clothing, we define the grown up us. I often find there is resistance to this fact of science, people often say ‘but I change as I age’, this is true but it becomes less and less change as we get older. We do change but it’s generally quite marginal, we become more fixed of mind over time, not because we choose to, it’s just the natural function of the unconscious brain, the more it fixes and automates the more it is succeeding at its job.
From this realisation and research I had a pretty clear picture that if choice, preferences, emotions, feelings, engagement and ultimately decisions are being made from this vast database of unconsciousness that it was simple a question of how you could understand the choice architecture of each individuals database that was where the key to irrational sat.
This is how, where and why Irrational Mathematics started coming to life. I will share more as I evolve on this incredibly challenging, fun and passionate journey as it is really quite exciting that nearly five years later this mathematics is present in our personalisation product and being used by lots of consumer brands (thank you customers :)).
My final thought is not about business, it’s about the self that you are. Once you process that self is an unconscious database of experience it leaves you with a level of acceptance of how you operate. Any database can be optimised, it’s just literally how you think about self. I don’t feel change is the answer for all, it’s more that simply being aware of self and the why of self makes a massive difference to how you live. Change or not, you can set yourself free by understanding your own math of self.
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