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Our attempts to pursue our goals are often thwarted by the fact that evolution has built our most sophisticated technologies on top of older technologies — without working out how to integrate the two. We can plan in advance, using our modern deliberative reasoning systems, but our ancestral reflexive mechanisms, which evolved first, still basically control the steering wheel. When the chips are down, it’s those mechanisms that our brains turn to, and that means that our brains frequently wind up relying on machinery that is all about acting first and asking questions later, squandering some of the efforts of our deliberative system.

Read more: Does your brain have a mind of its own?

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