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Published August 5, 2012

Eve is a thinking man’s game; whenever the combat has sped up too much, CCP has increased EHP and gone so far as to slow down time to allow thought and cunning to triumph over twitch reflexes. Beyond direct combat of warships destroying one another, the game is a veritable mire of conspiracy, market manipulation, and dirty politics. To succeed and prosper in a game like this it isn’t enough to simply think; one must out-think your opponents, some of whom you might not even realize exist. So we must start from the beginning and learn how people think - the real way humans think, rather than the shamefully outdated 18th century twaddle we still spoonfeed our children about ‘pure reason’ and ‘rationality’.

Humans are animals, and our capacity for thought is evolutionarily new, though we often ignore this fact. Our cognition is sloppy, full of heuristics and exploitable flaws, and emotion - far from an irrelevance, as the Enlightenment types might tell us - is biologically central to our ability to make decisions. Much of the research that has shattered our false conceptions of thought has come from Nobel-winning Daniel Kahneman, whose collaboration with Amos Tversky described prospect theory in 1979, giving birth to what we now call behavioral economics -  and at last Kahneman has written a book for a general audience, where previously his publications were confined to fellow academics.

There are now a number of books regarding the basics of behavioral economics - ‘Predictably Irrational’, ‘Nudge’, et al - but Kahneman avoids reiterating the basics (human cognition is shot through with predictable flaws) and instead focuses on the how of thought - the process itself, and the two wildly different systems that people use to navigate their world. In effect, the book is an instruction manual for thinking.

If you’ve ever wondered why so many people in Eve and in the real world fall repeatedly for the same obvious, foolish scams (and why I’ve been a third party to so many Titan sales), ‘System One’ is to blame. This is our intuitive, heuristic-filled thought mode; it requires very little mental effort, operates at blazing speed, and gets that speed and ease by being riddled with shortcuts. This is the realm of confirmation bias, where we leap at the chance to believe what we want to believe. If more Eve players intentionally shifted into the slower, more painful ‘System Two’ and thought their decisions over through that pathway (Divide 42 by five, then multiply the result by three. If you actually try this instead of just skimming past the words, you’ll feel your brain screeching to a halt as it shifts modes) the majority of scams and con games would stop working. But people stay in System One, so they become victims.  

In many ways, Eve is a game of decisions; we are relentlessly confronted with situations where we have to make either snap calls or longer-term plans requiring tremendous amounts of thought. In ‘Thinking, Fast and Slow’ one can discover how to choose the best method for each set of circumstances; this helps not only in the game, but in everyday life.

The Mittani
Goonswarm Federation CEO, Space Tyrant. Likes yoga, Alaskan Malamutes, bacon, and delegation.
Author: Daniel Kahneman
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Price: $16.95

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