Why privacy is important

Our minds are prone to seeing patterns and establishing norms with very little information.

Daniel Kahneman and his wife were driving from New York to Princeton one Sunday evening, when they spotted a car burning by the side of the road. The next Sunday, they spotted another burning car. Thereafter, that section of the road became “the place where cars catch fire” in their minds. Although a car burning twice in the same road section is extremely rare, our mind assumes that this is the norm and will not be surprised to see it happen the third time.

Additionally, our minds are biased towards negative information.  It takes fewer negative instances for us to establish a “bad” norm than a “good” norm. This tendency has its evolutionary advantages. It kept our ancestors from eating poisonous plants or playing with colonies of wasps. At least the ones who survived to pass on their genes.

However, the same tendency renders us more unforgiving of mistakes. It skews our evaluation of people, given our bias for negative information. We are prone to judging people too harshly for their misdeeds.

Therefore, our mind’s penchant for jumping to negative conclusions makes privacy important. A world without privacy is also one without fairness.

Inspiration: Thinking, fast and slow – Daniel Kahneman

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