There’s a passage in Atul Gawande’s Complications: A Surgeon’s Notes on an Imperfect Science that captures three decades of research on human judgment. “The mind overestimates vivid dangers, falls into ruts, and manages multiples pieces of data poorly. It is swayed unduly by desire and emotion and even the time of day. It is affected by the order in which information is presented and how problems are framed.”
In this “news-feed” era, there’s simply too much information. And as long as Google exists, it will be harder and harder to say “I don’t know,” even though the feel of not knowing–those vexing moments when we can’t think of the answer–is the critical last step of problem-solving. Instead of pushing through a mental impasse, we pull out our phones and search for information, even though more information can often detract us from making an accurate judgment. It’s a frustrating, self-perpetuating cycle.
The more choices you have, the more stressful it can be. Here’s how to move from frustrated to decided.