Unlike the ‘S’ on the back wall, or the specifics of the basketball uniforms, isn’t the fact of a person in a gorilla suit genuinely novel? Certainly, it’s far more out of context than these other elements of the scene. Or is novel just another word for surprising, and thus the target of this article?

Human infants are, almost definitionally, novelty-seeking, but a great many adults find novelty aversive. It may be no surprise to find that those who are the most novelty-averse are also the most likely to believe in the possibility of omniscience (usually that of the being with whom they are uniquely in contact and for whom they feel obliged to speak — a weird sort of self-deprecating omniscience).

I agree with a great deal of what has been said in this article, but I think Kahneman & Tversky’s biases and heuristics programme, and the subsequent creation of behavioural economics does some very important things:

  1. It alerts us to the possibility that what we see is, in all likelihood, not the whole picture, and thus;
  2. It punctures human hubris (or at least it should), because that hubris leads to religious, political, and economic systems that wreak havoc with society due to their own baseless a priori suppositions about what humans are and can do.

There are certainly problems with the over-application of the biases and heuristics programme, but the fact that so many of them are common to pretty much all human beings, and yet they have only come to common awareness in the last 50 years should give us pause for thought. I think it is a long overdue bucket of cold water, albeit that we should, as you say, acknowledge the ability of humans to notice novelty and develop hypotheses (albeit that they most often do so when they’re on their own).

Psychology graduate with interests in values and morality, cognition and executive function, and High Functioning Depression. Kiwi living in London, UK.