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Part 1: Two Systems 
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Post Re: Part 1: Two Systems
Interbane wrote:
The way to think about it is that you will never have absolute knowledge of the world around you, even within a small specialized framework. Reality is too complex, and the human mind is finite. We rely in information compression to store "thin sliced" chunks of abstracted reality - the important points, the highlights.

That is what should make you uneasy. The heuristics and biases that are mentioned in this book are the consequences of compressing information. Everything from the anchoring effect to WYSIATI. Additionally, the fallacies that people incorrectly use to shore up support in their conclusions, which aren't mentioned in this book, are heuristical. Baculum and Populum primarily.


I'm excited to see progress in this field and in neuroscience in the next few decades. The guiding theme is energy conservation. Even the neuron mechanisms have energy conservation integrated into the way they operate. The method of logic for some neurons at least is that they must have simultaneous inputs before they fire in response. The added redundancy would cut back on misfirings - false positives.

Ad baculum was a new one on me. What you're saying about energy conservation is along the same lines as K's cognitive ease, if I'm not mistaken. Once you're attuned to the term, you can see cognitive ease operating on so many levels. For its sake, people are even glad to believe things that are absurd judging by standards of proof.



Mon Oct 29, 2012 12:19 pm
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Post Re: Part 1: Two Systems
DWill wrote:
What you're saying about energy conservation is along the same lines as K's cognitive ease, if I'm not mistaken. Once you're attuned to the term, you can see cognitive ease operating on so many levels. For its sake, people are even glad to believe things that are absurd judging by standards of proof.

Yes, this theme of cognitive ease is to my reading the key message of Thinking, Fast and Slow. Kahneman's observation that we tend to believe whatever is easiest provides a valuable heuristic tool to explain why people accept claims that are not true.

The big example, of course, is religion. 'Cognitive ease' means that claims that resonate emotionally are preferred over claims that are logical and true. So bizarre stories about miracles have become a matter of fervent faith, because they support an overall outlook that people find easier to accept than difficult real explanations. Questioning such claims can seem to mean jumping into an abyss of doubt, whereas accepting them provides a simple basis for social identity, purpose and belonging.

Psychologically, the existence of viral memes that slot right in to what we want to believe is another way of describing what some analysts such as Carl Jung have called archetypal symbols. Archetypes are ideas that appear widely attractive for what ever reason due to human neural evolution. When enough people have a propensity to like some idea, this social consensus acquires a political force that amplifies the cognitive ease of finding the idea emotionally pleasant. Questioning such ideas (eg virgin birth, physical resurrection, Jesus saves sinners) just on the basis of evidence and logic does not engage with the psychological reality of why people like them.


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Mon Oct 29, 2012 3:10 pm
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Post Re: Part 1: Two Systems
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The big example, of course, is religion. 'Cognitive ease' means that claims that resonate emotionally are preferred over claims that are logical and true.


I think emotional resonance is less about cognitive ease, and more about the fact that emotion in general is more persuasive than the content of arguments.

Cognitive ease, at least in all the areas where Kahneman mentions it, is more about simply not putting in any further effort than is required to arrive at a solution. Our system 2 won't even engage if system 1 gives us a good explanation.

In defense of religion, if people find that their beliefs are under attack, they will engage system 2 quite extensively in it's defense.


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Mon Oct 29, 2012 5:47 pm
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Post Re: Part 1: Two Systems
Interbane wrote:
emotional resonance is less about cognitive ease, and more about the fact that emotion in general is more persuasive than the content of arguments.
Emotion is persuasive when it addresses things we want to believe. An emotional appeal that makes claims we know to be unfounded or that we do not wish to believe is less effective. So the receptivity of the listener - or the cognitive ease with which an appeal is assimilated and accepted - is the soil, fertile or barren, upon which an emotional plea takes root.
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Cognitive ease, at least in all the areas where Kahneman mentions it, is more about simply not putting in any further effort than is required to arrive at a solution. Our system 2 won't even engage if system 1 gives us a good explanation.
Lack of required effort is part of the story for cognitive ease, but part of this requirement is that a claim builds upon what we already know, or want to believe. So I don't agree that you can simply separate cognitive ease from emotional resonance, which forms a big part of the initial System 1 gate determining if thinking is needed.
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In defense of religion, if people find that their beliefs are under attack, they will engage system 2 quite extensively in it's defense.

But those defences of religious belief are primarily rationalisation, apologetic elaborations of ideas whose foundations collapse under close examination. Emotional assumptions generally sit unexamined beneath the edifice - beliefs in afterlife, salvation, miracles, nonexistent entities, fiction as fact - and make most religious logic more akin to building a house on sand than on rock.


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Mon Oct 29, 2012 9:49 pm
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Post Re: Part 1: Two Systems
Robert Tulip wrote:
Emotion is persuasive when it addresses things we want to believe. An emotional appeal that makes claims we know to be unfounded or that we do not wish to believe is less effective. So the receptivity of the listener - or the cognitive ease with which an appeal is assimilated and accepted - is the soil, fertile or barren, upon which an emotional plea takes root.

Looking at cognitive ease again, I'm not sure I applied it a few posts back in the way K intends. He doesn't tie it directly to making claims except perhaps in the sense that we might tend to believe without thinking, something that credible people tell us. Religious belief might apply here, though I can't recall that K ever mentions religion or any metaphysical idea at all. He's probably smart to stay away from that, finding plenty of fodder in everyday, practical thinking, even in the thinking of those who would claim to be the most rational. But going back to the use of cognitive ease, it has to be seen in relation to "cognitive strain" to really make sense. We can easily see that cognitive strain is is likely to exact a cost on homeostasis; it's work that we're often willing to avoid for the sake of coasting. Our System 2, like Haidt's rider, is likely to be wimpy when it comes to disciplining System 1 or the elephant. I agree with Interbane on this.
Quote:
Lack of required effort is part of the story for cognitive ease, but part of this requirement is that a claim builds upon what we already know, or want to believe. So I don't agree that you can simply separate cognitive ease from emotional resonance, which forms a big part of the initial System 1 gate determining if thinking is needed.

It's true that ease equals pleasurable emotion, but I'd guess for the most part we're dealing with situations like the lazy thinking on p. 65 rather than metaphysics.
Quote:
But those defences of religious belief are primarily rationalisation, apologetic elaborations of ideas whose foundations collapse under close examination. Emotional assumptions generally sit unexamined beneath the edifice - beliefs in afterlife, salvation, miracles, nonexistent entities, fiction as fact - and make most religious logic more akin to building a house on sand than on rock.

That's close to what Haidt believed was typical of the rider where moral questions were concerned--that the rider supplied rationalizations for what the elephant told him. It seems that System 2 or the rider can either serve the interests of the intuitive self or really exert rationality against it. System 2 doesn't seem to be the agent able to make an argument for religion, since religion seems to be strictly System 1. But here I would caution against viewing the two systems hierarchically, kind of dumb vs. smart. System 1 is plenty smart.



Last edited by DWill on Mon Oct 29, 2012 10:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Mon Oct 29, 2012 10:35 pm
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Post Re: Part 1: Two Systems
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System 2 doesn't seem to be the agent able to make an argument for religion, since religion seems to be strictly System 1. But here I would caution against viewing the two systems hierarchically, kind of dumb vs. smart. System 1 is plenty smart.


I think system 2 is engaged in coming to believe the bible. In understanding the story, memorizing the parts, contemplating the wisdom of certain passages. Specifically, all the thinking that is deliberate. You can think very deeply and deliberately within some schools of thought that are entirely false. What matters in arriving at the truth is the process - the epistemic standards - during the time system two is engaged.

The Sunday school children may have an active system two regarding themes/wisdoms/characters in the bible. If they're never taught that the bible should be subjected to scrutiny and that ad baculum is a fallacy, there is no information that could push either of the two systems along the path of critically examining the bible. All you see is what there is. Lack of key information is the problem, not the disinterest of system 2.


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Mon Oct 29, 2012 11:20 pm
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Post Re: Part 1: Two Systems
Kahneman's shorthand is that when we think automatically we're in System 1, when we deliberate we're using System 2. But S2 often rubber-stamps what S1 gives us, so I don't find it that meaningful that S2 is used. (S2 is the means whereby we put a social face on the strong intuitions of S1.) When we deliberate we often don't do so rationally. If we do use rational process, we can only do that from S2, but usually we just can't see our way past the powerful "logic" of S1, or we may invest heavily in the "truth" we see coming from it, so we don't care to use logic. And that is often because S1 is where the powerful stuff resides. When we think of Truth, we get a strong feeling that can only come from System 1. If we can be shown that this is an error, we might assent intellectually from S2, but I think the feeling of truth disappears. The bottom line for me might be that using our minds is always a combination of the two systems, and truth comes from each but is different according to the source.



Tue Oct 30, 2012 7:56 am
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Post Re: Part 1: Two Systems
Speaking of how they affect conclusions, system 1 is data storage, and system 2 is processing. What's great about the data storage is there's a bit of an algorithm in the retrieval process, where associated information is selected between and retrieved.

If only a single piece of information is retrieved... well system two then has nothing else to go on, that information will be believed. All you see is what there is. That's not a failing of either system. It's simply the best way to operate when we have limited information.

I've found that during the creative process, there are tricks you can use in your deliberative reasoning to prompt system 1 to get better results. You can utilize system 2 to optimize system 1's findings. A lot of artistic and creative writing exercises tap into this, throwing permutations of information at system 1 to see what associations ping back.


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Post Re: Part 1: Two Systems
DWill wrote:
I'm employed in a field--mental health--that Kahneman would call a low-validity environment. Basically, there are few "regularities" in this environment that make it easy, or perhaps even possible, for anyone to make definitive judgments or predictions about mental health clients. Yet most in the agency operate as if there are. Kahneman cites work by Meehl that established the deplorable reliability of clinical prediction of all types. I would also say that diagnostic validity is always suspect; that's why a person can get three different diagnoses from three evaluators. The book has raised my antennae about all of this. I like his chapter on intuition, which is what people often say they're using when they make clinical judgments. kahneman pretty much says that intuition can't function accurately when a practitioner hasn't had the opportunity to learn the regularities of a system, in this case because the regularities haven't been established. Intuition is in fact most like memory, not a magical ability that comes out of thin air. It's always based on something that a person has learned, and what the person does is recall the information. If he's not aware consciously of the recall, he might assume he just divined the answer through some psychic means or other.


You have just described my biggest frustration doing the work we do. The diagnoses are just about useless. A diagnosis if not correct, which often they are not get in the way of appropriate treatment. Also, the criteria for getting a person into treatment is in reality so subjective, with little to no acknowledgment of this fact, that it makes it very difficult to get a person inpatient treatment or to keep them in treatment once they get past the first gate keeper. I work with the elderly, one of the problems I run into is one evaluator's dementia symptoms are another evaluator's psychotic symptoms and vice versa.



Sun Nov 04, 2012 9:19 am
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Post Re: Part 1: Two Systems
Thanks. Unfortunately, "experts" can have an especially negative effect on others if their opinions have direct influence. This might be especially true in mental health. I'm not knocking the field, because many people in it have appropriate humility about their judgments.

The later chapter on expert intuition is good. K says essentially that all accurate intuition comes from practice and immersion in necessary skills or knowledge. It's always memory-based. We have a fairly good reason to respect expert intuition in high-validity situations and fields, but not so much in low-validity areas, such as psychology. K mentions the scenario that starts off Gladwell's Blink, where the art experts just sense that there is something about the statues that tells them they're fakes. The museum experts disagree, but the outsiders turn out to be correct. Gladwell doesn't dig deep enough to find out just what knowledge the experts were drawing on, and apparently they didn't initially know themselves. But K is sure that it could have been discovered if the time had been taken. From K's perspective, it's not possible that a person can just intuit correct answers across the board. What people do who think of themselves as generally intuitive is to apply heuristics, which are rules of thumb that in many ways avoid the rational examination that the task requires.



Sun Nov 04, 2012 11:24 am
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