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Part 1: Two Systems 
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Post Re: Part 1: Two Systems
This comment is actually in relation to the Introduction, but I'll put it here anyway. I thought it could be significant that Kahneman's definition of "bias" is different from the one we commonly employ, more specific really. A bias is a "systematic error in thinking," and it is caused by the inaccurate intuitions that our minds produce, not by corruption from emotions. This differs from the popular usage, where bias isn't systematic, or dependent on the minds' structure, and is usually attributed to an emotional attachment of the thinker. This type of "bias" usually is alleged when judgments, decisions, and opinions are the thought product, instead of perceptions as in the first case. Kahneman says that we commonly apply (or misapply) certain heuristics to reach our judgments, and that our emotions often lead us to do this. We unconsciously choose these heuristics from system 1 instead of putting ourselves through the more laborious System 2 thinking to reach conclusions. So Kahneman seems to give us two separate contexts in which the intuitions of System 1 rule without much correction from System 2: our perceptions and our judgments or decisions. He seems to be calling only the first of these a case of bias.



Last edited by DWill on Sun Sep 09, 2012 7:40 am, edited 1 time in total.



Sun Sep 09, 2012 7:24 am
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Post Re: Part 1: Two Systems
I've heard that this book is more like a primer on our mental biases than it is an argument with a focused thesis, and so far I find this to be true. Kahneman doesn't mind telling us that he has no original thesis; he's content with reporting on his own and others' work on how our minds work. Some readers have said they got tired of wading through his list of topics that have no clear progression, but so far I'm okay with this. The material is very interesting, he keeps his chapters short, and he writes clearly.

The book is a lot different from Jonathan Haidt's The Righteous Mind, but it parallels that book in that System 1 and System 2 are very similar to Haidt's elephant and rider. In both books, the automatic systems (System 1 and the elephant) shoulder most of the work and are more potent than the effortful System 2 and the rider. But while Haidt stresses the rider's inability to to do more than occasionally manage the direction of his elephant's lean, Kahneman tells us that it's System 2's nature to be lazy, to yield willingly to system 1 instead of challenging what it brings to consciousness.

In "The Lazy Controller," Kahneman talks about how people can use System 2 to challenge the intuitive biases of System 1. He refers to a book titled Rationality and the Reflective Mind by Stankovich, in which the author says that people who successfully challenge System 1 must use System 2 in a particular way. If they use System 2's capacity for demanding computation and task-switching--the skills traditionally measured by intelligence tests--but stop there, they won't have greater immunity to biases. What is also needed is what Stankovich labels "rationality." A rational person is one who is engaged with his mind enough to recognize when she needs to examine the biases her intuition may be presenting. The rational person reflects on all mental processes, and thus can be distinguished from the person who is good at using intelligence (which Stankovich calls "algorithmic" ability), but doesn't cultivate this habit of reflection. Kahneman says that the distinction between intelligence and rationality is intriguing but that the work hasn't been done to establish it solidly.



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Mon Sep 10, 2012 7:21 am
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Post Re: Part 1: Two Systems
Quote:
DWill wrote:

The material is very interesting, he keeps his chapters short, and he writes clearly.


Thanks DWill, I feel encouraged now. I thought he did give very clear examples right at the start in outlining our reactions to the lady's angry face and then that very appropriate piece of mental arithmetic, which I, of course, got wrong first try.

I'm only plodding because my ratio between fiction and non-fiction is skewed. I read far, far more fiction, and find that I can do so and watch TV, or sew etc....With non-fiction, I need to cover my ears and really concentrate...AND...I get cross if I'm interrupted.


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Mon Sep 10, 2012 8:25 am
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Post Re: Part 1: Two Systems
Minor correction: The author of Rationality and the Reflective Mind is Keith Stanovich, not Stankovich.

For those who are interested, Kahneman didn't introduce the theoretical concept of two systems in higher cognition. Others had proposed and tested versions of dual system theories prior to him, which is why Kahneman is careful to state that he didn't dream it up. Here are some others who proposed and developed dual system theories of reasoning and decision-making: Gilbert, 1989; Sloman, 1996; Chaiken and Trope, 1999; Hammond et al., 1999. In 2003, both Jonathan Evans and Daniel Kahneman published papers detailing their accounts. Stanovich argued for a particular view he holds, which is that System 2 had to control and over-ride System 1. Haidt also argues for dual systems, and his interest in them is primarily due to his emphasis on the role of intuition in moral judgment. Joshua Greene (a collaborator with Haidt) explains moral judgment as the outcome of dual systems as well, but his emphasis is on the role of emotion.

For the record, everyone who takes a dual view approach puts emotion, intuition, and heuristics in System 1, and agrees that is is the fast system. System 2 includes deliberation, probability estimation, cost-benefit analyses, and other means of decision-making that employ conscious thought., and everyone agrees it is the slower system.

Gerd Gigerenzer, the director of the Adaptive Behavior program at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, has been highly critical of dual systems approaches and of the idea that rapid heuristic decision-making necessarily yields poor decisions. He has written dozens of papers on this, and shown how several heuristics do as well or better than more complex decision algorithms. Moreover, they do it in a fraction of the time and require far fewer resources than the complex algorithms.

I discuss all of this in my book Good Thinking, which currently is the only book on the market that provides an even-handed, broad spectrum view of the explanations scientists have offered concerning thought and decision-making, along with the evidence supporting or contradicting them.

Denise Cummins, PhD, experimental psychologist and expert in reasoning and decision-making research


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Mon Sep 10, 2012 10:09 am
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Post Re: Part 1: Two Systems
I suppose that Malcolm Gladwell might be too much the popular writer to have a lot of heft when it comes to systems, but in Blinkhe did--at least in the first half--talk up the automatic system as often better at getting things right than the more deliberate style of thinking that would be System 2. What sometimes isn't noticed is that he also says a good deal about what can go wrong with intuitive "thin slicing." What's your view of Gladwell's approach, denise?



Mon Sep 10, 2012 8:56 pm
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Post Re: Part 1: Two Systems
I confess I didn't read his book. But with respect to automatic processing: Expertise development relies heavily on shifting knowledge from controlled to automatic processing. Simple example: Learning to drive a car. Initially, you had to think about each component (e.g., check rear view mirror, check blind spot, slow down as you near the intersection, watch out for pedestrians, etc) and it took every bit of your conscious processing resources to drive a few blocks. It was difficult to drive and do other things--like carry on a conversation or listen to music.

As the skill became more practiced--you became an expert driver--many of these components became automated, requiring far fewer conscious processing resources. You executed movements as a seamless series, and you rapidly noticed things that a novice might miss. As a result, you could do other things while driving, like think and talk and listen to music.

All expertise is like that. Grandmaster chess players generally don't think ahead any more moves than intermediate players, but they are much more successful in choosing which moves to consider because their knowledge bases are full of chess board configurations (linked to optimal moves) that they immediately recognize when they view the board (or imagine it). That's how they can play many players simultaneously and rapidly in tournaments. Soccer and baseball players show the same kind of automaticity. Whereas a novice player looks at the ball (which is what our coaches told us to do), expert players look where the ball is going to be a second or less later. And that is where they put themselves or aim their bats.

So, yes, automatic processing can frequently outperform deliberative when the decision-maker is an expert. That's what all those hours and years of solving problems in a domain buys you.


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Mon Sep 10, 2012 9:43 pm
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Post Re: Part 1: Two Systems
Penelope wrote:
Quote:
DWill wrote:

The material is very interesting, he keeps his chapters short, and he writes clearly.


Thanks DWill, I feel encouraged now. I thought he did give very clear examples right at the start in outlining our reactions to the lady's angry face and then that very appropriate piece of mental arithmetic, which I, of course, got wrong first try.

I'm only plodding because my ratio between fiction and non-fiction is skewed. I read far, far more fiction, and find that I can do so and watch TV, or sew etc....With non-fiction, I need to cover my ears and really concentrate...AND...I get cross if I'm interrupted.

I'm just the opposite, Penelope, when it comes to reading. NF outweighs fiction at least 4 to 1. But I'm not necessarily happy with that ratio. Maybe I'm too much in System 2 and should cultivate my System 1 more. Fiction does seem to reach that part of us, the part that is interested in human life, that NF generally leaves alone. Talk about poetry, and then we might be even deeper in to System 1. Or music, ditto.

I find it easy to assign characters to the two systems, just as Kahneman says is natural for us to do, even about geometric shapes in one experiment. I can't help thinking of 1 as naughty, hedonistic and not that bright, and 2 as mature, careful, and smart. I know that really isn't true, though. I think some people just naturally stay in system 1 more than some others, and what does that make them? Maybe they're more spontaneous and natural, even though they might not think about whether their intuitions are logical.



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Post Re: Part 1: Two Systems
Quote:
Gerd Gigerenzer, the director of the Adaptive Behavior program at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, has been highly critical of dual systems approaches and of the idea that rapid heuristic decision-making necessarily yields poor decisions. He has written dozens of papers on this, and shown how several heuristics do as well or better than more complex decision algorithms. Moreover, they do it in a fraction of the time and require far fewer resources than the complex algorithms.


Perhaps I'm not far enough into the book yet, but it doesn't seem to me that the author refers to System 1 as being inferior. He cites many situations where it does an excellent job. I see you cite some as well in your previous post.


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Wed Sep 12, 2012 5:32 pm
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Post Re: Part 1: Two Systems
Quote:
DWill wrote: Talk about poetry, and then we might be even deeper in to System 1. Or usic, ditto.


Music is about vibration....and is very close to mathematics....so, System 1 and System 2 meet in music as far as I'm concerned, and I keep wondering if 'God', whatever that is; is in the gaps.

Poetry...for me anyway, is system 1, absolutely and completely.

I'm just watching a programme on BBC 1, and I'll post a link for you when it has finished if you think you might be interested.

It is the Jewish New Year: Rosh Hashanah: Science Versus Religion:-

Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks debates with atheists Richard Dawkins, Susan Greenfield and Jim Al-Khalili.


It began with the Rabbi saying:

'Science takes things apart to see how they work,
Religion puts them together to see what they mean.'

It is perplexing to hear Jonathan Sacks debating with Richard Dawkins, they are both gentlemen, intelligent, and admirable.

Perplexing, but a joy.

Religion in the wrong hands is very dangerous, but also is Science. Religion has been mis-used, but also has Science.

Does Faith trump Reason? The answer to Bad Religion, is Good Religion, not No Religion.

Richard met Jonathan more than halfway. Hurrah! Hallelujah!!

Science tells us about the origins of life , but religion tells us about the reasons.


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Post Re: Part 1: Two Systems
Interbane, for the past 30 years, Kahneman has published papers showing that human decision-making is fraught with biases and misleading heuristics.


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Wed Sep 12, 2012 7:15 pm
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Post Re: Part 1: Two Systems
Yes Denise, I'm aware of that and he speaks right off the bat of the negatives of "system 1". What I was hoping you'd clarify on is when you said that system 1 "necessarily" yields poor decisions. But a second read shows that you were framing Gerd's perspective(I think).

How much work to you do with the physical side of studying the mind? Are there any interesting insights into how the brain operates when you heavily engage system 2? I mean, pupil dilation during intense focus must have causal roots in the brain, and the fidelity of that reaction in indicating mental effort. What is "engaged" when we undertake a conscious effort to focus?

Is there a release of chemical? Are there supplemental cells like glia that act as the "control wiring" to the neuron's "communication wiring"? Understanding the whole shebang I know is nearly impossible, but I'm wondering only about the base mechanics.

This is my favorite subject(thus the purchase of this book amidst a busy schedule). I've always held introspection to be one of my greatest strengths, and the primary cause of much depression. Sometimes, I often think that in order to be so cognizant of what I'm thinking, there must be something of a second personality within me. Not only must the subject of thought be maintained, but the overview of 'how' the subject is being analyzed must be maintained as well. My introspection hits a red light when my blood sugar is low. Not enough energy?

It's frustrating trying to suss out the nuances of your own thinking. I want a gods eye view of my brain during operation.


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Post Re: Part 1: Two Systems
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I find it easy to assign characters to the two systems, just as Kahneman says is natural for us to do, even about geometric shapes in one experiment. I can't help thinking of 1 as naughty, hedonistic and not that bright, and 2 as mature, careful, and smart. I know that really isn't true, though. I think some people just naturally stay in system 1 more than some others, and what does that make them? Maybe they're more spontaneous and natural, even though they might not think about whether their intuitions are logical.


The systems approach I think needs something of an up front disclaimer. It's an abstract reference that 'cuts nature at the knees'. The usefulness in helping us to understand seems to outweigh the potential for conceptual hiccups, however, so it's justified. I would feel more comfortable if these abstractions could be tied to mechanisms, so the points of demarcation have an anchor in the actual workings of the brain. With that said, it's an effective and fun way to frame the concepts.


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Post Re: Part 1: Two Systems
Interbane, that is a great question, and the answer is: Yes, there is a good deal of research (primarily from neuroimaging studies) showing separate processing pathways for System 1 and System 2. For example, Knutson and colleagues conducted an fMRI experiment in which both reward magnitude and probability were manipulated (Knutson, Taylor, Kaufman, Peterson, & Glover, 2005). Participants were presented with cues indicating both the likelihood and value of upcoming monetary rewards. They found that activity in the medial prefrontal cortex was related to the subjective probability of obtaining the reward, but activation in midbrain areas correlated with expected reward magnitude. Moreover, people’s verbal reports of their probability estimates correlated with prefrontal brain activity, whereas their reports of arousal correlated with midbrain activity. When people decide to make risky decisions, the reward areas of the brain become highly active just prior to making the decision. In other words, this neural signature shows that they are anticipating large payoffs and are not thinking about the probability of payoffs (Knuston & Bossaerts, 2007). This is one reason gambling can be so addictive; the act of placing the bet can feel as rewarding as winning.


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Thu Sep 13, 2012 9:15 am
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Post Re: Part 1: Two Systems
I just reached the point where he mentions blood glucose levels correlate to how much executive control is allocated to difficult functions. I mentioned this exact thing two posts ago; the effect is pronounced enough that it can be felt.


I also find it very interesting that the economizing ability of our brain is unintentional, as if a difficult problem is required before we can concentrate fully. I wonder if being deep within a meditative trance would affect pupil size, and if neuroimaging would show greater activity in the areas of the brain that correspond to system 2.


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Post Re: Part 1: Two Systems
Quote:
Interbane wrote:

I just reached the point where he mentions blood glucose levels correlate to how much executive control is allocated to difficult functions.


Does that mean that type2 diabetes sufferers are more stupid? :o


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Fri Sep 14, 2012 3:13 am
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