From TED 2009: Barry Schwartz makes a passionate call for "practical wisdom" as an antidote to a society gone mad with bureaucracy. He argues powerfully that rules often fail us, incentives often backfire, and practical, everyday wisdom will help rebuild our world.
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Is there such a thing as too much choice? In The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less – How the Culture of Abundance Robs Us of Satisfaction (Harper Perennial, 2005), author Barry Schwartz answers with a resounding yes. Though some choice is healthy and necessary, Barry argues that in modern society, we are overwhelmed with them, leading us to feel dissatisfied and sometimes even unable to make a decision at all. The dominant view that the market will provide and enable people to get that they want in life is illusory, as human beings are not as rational as we think we are, and our subjective experience of an event does not always correlate with how objectively “good” it is. In this podcast, Barry also talks about how some people, who he calls maximizers, end up suffering more from the overabundance of choices in our society, for these people always strive to make the very best decision in order to have the very best. This leads to paralysis, overanalyzing, and ultimately, to overall dissatisfaction. What makes us happy, he argues, is not to strive for the very best, but to be content with the good enough. As Barry states, “I think that in modern America, we have far too many options for breakfast cereal and not enough options of president.”
Too many rules erodes the moral, ethical, and community-oriented bases for our actions.