Like an addiction to anything, when the craving for certainty is met, there is a sensation of reward. At low levels, for example, when predicting where your foot will land as you walk, the reward is often unnoticeable (except when your foot doesn’t land the way you predicted, which equates with uncertainty). The pleasure of prediction is more acute when you listen to music based on repeating patterns. The ability to predict, and then obtain data that meets those predictions, generates an overall toward response. It’s part of the reason that games such as solitaire, Sudoku, and crossword puzzles are enjoyable. They give you a little rush from creating more certainty in the world, in a safe way. Entire industries are devoted to resolving larger uncertainties: from shop-front palm readers, to the mythical “black boxes” that can supposedly predict stock trends and make investors millions. Some parts of accounting and consulting make their money by helping executives experience a perception of increasing certainty, through strategic planning and “forecasting”. While the financial markets of 2008 showed once again that the future is inherently uncertain, the one thing that’s certain is that people will always pay lots of money at least to feel less uncertain. That’s because uncertainty feels, to the brain, like a threat to your life.
– David Rock, Your Brain at Work