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Rational decisions require a long-term perspective

Byun Chun Han in Infocracy: Digitization and the Crisis of Democracy about how the information society makes rational decisions difficult:

Rationality is also time-intensive. Rational decisions require a long-term perspective. They are based on reflections that extend beyond the present moment into both past and future. This temporal expansion characterizes rationality. In the information society, we simply do not have the time for rational action. The compulsion of accelerated communication deprives us of rationality. Under temporal pressure, we instead opt for intelligence. Intelligence has a totally different temporality. Intelligent action aims at short-term solutions and successes. Luhmann rightly remarks: ‘In an information society it is no longer possible to speak of rational behaviour. At best it is intelligent'.

Discursive rationality is today under threat from affective communication. We allow ourselves to be easily affected by fast sequences of information. It is quicker to appeal to affect than to rationality. In affective communication, it is not the better argument but the most exciting information that prevails. Fake news is more interesting than fact. A single tweet containing fake news or a fragment of decontextualized information may be more effective than a reasoned argument.

infocracy Byun Chun Han information society


From The Carbon Almanac, p. 35:

People tend to underestimate the most impactful climate actions like voting for leaders who are prepared to fight the climate problem, while overestimating less impactful ones like recycling and replacing lightbulbs.

The Carbon Almanac climate change