Monday, 8 July 2013

New Research reveals certainty is emotional not rational state

There is an old punch line that runs something like “I used to be uncertain but now I am not so sure” but after reading a very interesting book “On Being Certain” by neurologist Robert Burton its more like “I used to be certain but now I am not so sure”.

Burton argues convincingly, using the latest research, that the sense of being certain about some is an emotional state rather than a rational state and can be triggered in the absence of, or in total conflict with, any rational evidence. He describes how the feeling of certainly comes from the same part of the brain which other emotions come from and not the part of the brain associated with rationale thought.

My takeaway from the book is that it is still very important to know why you do things and what you believe but we need a dose of humility anytime we feel we are absolutely 100% certain about something.

Ken Thompson (aka The BumbleBee) blogs about bioteams, virtual collaboration and business simulation at