Thinking, fast and slow; or, Nancy Grace and Dan Abrams

fast and slow thinking


 

In his book “Thinking, Fast and Slow,” Daniel Kahneman posits that we humans, as mammals/primates, have two different decision-making systems in our brains. There’s a “fast” system, which does quick evaluations on the basis of likelihood and present evidence, and makes a quick decision. There is also a “slow” system, which takes time and evaluates more carefully.

 

 

 

The “fast” system is useful for emergencies. The “slow” system is useful for – well, just about everything except emergencies.

 

 

 

Sadly, most of us use the “fast” system for everything, which means that – for us – the obvious reason seems always to be the right reason. Even more sadly, we rationalize these “fast” decisions: we take our quickly-drawn conclusions and try to justify them mock-logically.

 

 

Sometimes it works. Sometimes it’s just silly.

 

 

 

Which brings me to Dan Abrams and Nancy Grace.

 

 

 

For whatever reason, ABC’s “Good Morning America” often uses these two as tandem commentators on court cases in the news. Dan is reasoned and careful and takes the law into account. Nancy, on the other hand, always knows immediately who’s to blame and mocks Dan for not following her lead.

 

 

 

See? Dan is slow-thinking. Nancy is fast-thinking.

 

 

 

It’s sickening to watch, sometimes. Dan is reasoning through a case, and Nancy will accuse him of “sitting in his ivory tower.” Obviously (for Nancy), the guiltiest-looking person in the room must be the perpetrator. Right?

 

 

 

No, Nancy. Not right. Lots of innocent people are in jail right now because of thinking like yours.

 

 

 

Nancy used to be a real court prosecutor. Now she’s just an imaginary prosecutor, allowed by ABC to pontificate on cases about which she (and the rest of us) know next to nothing. I’m glad she’s not in the real legal system. She’d do a lot of harm there. I’m sorry, however, that ABC gives her a platform on “Good Morning America” to hold forth on these “he looks guilty, so he must be guilty” views. I’m sure there are viewers who consider her an authority, and think: if Nancy Grace says/believes it, it must be true!

 

 

 

But it ain’t.

 

 

 

She’s a dimwit in love with her own opinions who has forgotten how the law works. She wants opinion to be law.

 

 

 

That’s a creepy thought.

 

 

 

“Good Morning America” really shouldn’t give her this kind of exposure. Except, I’m sure, that she’s good for ratings, because fast-thinking quick-judging viewers like to hear her expound on her ill-judged beliefs, which agree with their own.

 

 

 

(Sigh.)


 

 

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Missing children, Nancy Grace, and Dan Abrams

Abrams-grace


Partner and I get up at 7:00 am or a little after. We have slightly different routines. I go into the living room, read my email and drink my coffee; he stays in the bedroom, reads his email, watches “Good Morning America,” and drinks his coffee.

 

 

Naturally I can hear most of the dialogue.

 

 

At 7:30am, “Good Morning America” almost invariably features a story about a missing child.  The child is almost always white, by the way. They usually have the irrational Nancy Grace and the mostly-imperturbable Dan Abrams doing Point Counterpoint on the subject.

 

 

Naturally there’s no real information.  Nancy always assumes the worst, and declares it, and announces that anyone who disagrees with her is a fool and an ivory-tower intellectual and a goddamned liberal.

 

 

Dan Abrams usually points out, mildly, that all the facts aren’t in, and more work needs to be done on the case.

 

 

Nancy explodes, calls Dan an ivory-tower intellectual and a goddamned liberal, and wants to know why more isn’t being done to bring this case to its (obvious) conclusion.

 

 

Some thoughts:

 

 

        I wonder how many missing children there are in the USA today. 

        I wonder how many of them are non-white. 

        I wonder why we so seldom hear about the non-white missing children on “Good Morning America,” and I wonder if it’s because they’re just not considered to be so angelically adorable.

        I wonder that they pair the astonishingly illogical Nancy Grace with the perfectly reasonable Dan Abrams, and allow her to snarl at him idiotically, just for the sake of TV entertainment.

        I wonder what percentage of these poor children are ever located.

 

 

And finally: I wonder that the TV doesn’t actually explode with the whole idiotic illogicality of the thing.


 

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