Archivio per 4 febbraio 2014



04
Feb
14

A simple principle that explains everything from the perceived success of speed cameras and alternative medicine to the Sports Illustrated jinx | Neurobonkers | Big Think

See on Scoop.itBounded Rationality and Beyond

According to urban legend, sports stars who appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated will subsequently experience bad luck. This seems counterintuitive but time and time again the Sports Illustrated jinx repeats itself. Take another example that at first might seem unrelated: Flight cadets have been noted to improve in performance immediately following punishment and show poorer performance immediately following rewards – a finding that seemingly flies in the face of much of what we know about behavioural psychology. Think about your own life for a moment, have you ever noticed this effect? Why might this be the case?

In both cases, as Nobel prize winning economist Daniel Kahneman explains in Thinking Fast and Slow, the answer is nothing to do with what we might expect – the fact that the sportsmen and women appeared on Sports Illustrated or the way the flight cadets were rewarded or punished. The real explanation is all down to probability – a principle known as regression to the mean. Wherever we can expect random fluctuations, if we take an extreme example such as a sportsmen who is on a winning streak or a flight cadet performing particularly well or badly, we can expect that in the immediate future their performance will return closer to the mean due to chance alone. A classic example of this is in how we interpret the effect of speed cameras which are typically installed following a streak of accidents. Following a streak of accidents we can expect that due to random chance there will be a period of time where no accidents take place, regardless of whether or not a speed camera is installed – but when a speed camera is installed we attribute the subsequent immediate drop in accidents as a result of the speed camera.

See on bigthink.com

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04
Feb
14

Lessons from Sherlock Holmes: Perspective Is Everything, Details Alone Are Nothing | Guest Blog, Scientific American Blog Network

See on Scoop.itBounded Rationality and Beyond

Details are important, often crucial. But focus exclusively on the details, without taking a step back, and you run the risk of getting lost in minutiae – and more likely than not, of missing any actual importance the details might contain. In other words, don’t forget the old proverb, “Don’t miss the forest for the trees.” It’s a cliché for a reason. Holmes reminds us repeatedly to avoid the rooky mistake, and even shows us how we might best be able to do so. In following his advice, we are likely to see a marked improvement in the quality of our own decisions and thought process.

 

See on blogs.scientificamerican.com

04
Feb
14

Lessons from Sherlock Holmes: Perspective Is Everything, Details Alone Are Nothing | Guest Blog, Scientific American Blog Network

See on Scoop.itBounded Rationality and Beyond

Details are important, often crucial. But focus exclusively on the details, without taking a step back, and you run the risk of getting lost in minutiae – and more likely than not, of missing any actual importance the details might contain. In other words, don’t forget the old proverb, “Don’t miss the forest for the trees.” It’s a cliché for a reason. Holmes reminds us repeatedly to avoid the rooky mistake, and even shows us how we might best be able to do so. In following his advice, we are likely to see a marked improvement in the quality of our own decisions and thought process.

 

See on blogs.scientificamerican.com

04
Feb
14

Lessons from Sherlock Holmes: Preconceptions and the Blunting of Imagination | Guest Blog, Scientific American Blog Network

See on Scoop.itBounded Rationality and Beyond

Sometimes, the impossible takes place: Sherlock Holmes makes a mistake. Yes, it happens. The master detective falls prey to some of the very errors he urges us to avoid. If even he falters, what chance do we mere mortals have? Well, for one, we can examine those moments when Holmes does go wrong and see what we can learn from the shortcomings of the normally infallible master–after all, it is often in the very errors and flaws of a process that we are able to discern the most about how something actually functions.

In “Silver Blaze,” one of the paragons of logical reasoning, Holmes admits to a rare lapse in judgment. In the story, a prize horse goes missing. As Holmes and Watson head to Dartmoor to help with the investigation, Holmes mentions that on Tuesday evening, both the horse’s owner and Inspector Gregory had telegraphed for his assistance on the case. The flummoxed Watson responds, “Tuesday evening! And this is Thursday morning. Why didn’t you go down yesterday?” To which Holmes answers,  “Because I made a blunder, my dear Watson–which is, I am afraid, a more common occurrence than anyone would think who only knew me through your memoirs. The fact is that I could not believe it possible that the most remarkable horse in England could long remain concealed, especially in so sparsely inhabited a place as the north of Dartmoor.”

And there you have it.  The great Holmes has made a blunder.

See on blogs.scientificamerican.com

04
Feb
14

Lessons from Sherlock Holmes: Preconceptions and the Blunting of Imagination | Guest Blog, Scientific American Blog Network

See on Scoop.itBounded Rationality and Beyond

Sometimes, the impossible takes place: Sherlock Holmes makes a mistake. Yes, it happens. The master detective falls prey to some of the very errors he urges us to avoid. If even he falters, what chance do we mere mortals have? Well, for one, we can examine those moments when Holmes does go wrong and see what we can learn from the shortcomings of the normally infallible master–after all, it is often in the very errors and flaws of a process that we are able to discern the most about how something actually functions.

In “Silver Blaze,” one of the paragons of logical reasoning, Holmes admits to a rare lapse in judgment. In the story, a prize horse goes missing. As Holmes and Watson head to Dartmoor to help with the investigation, Holmes mentions that on Tuesday evening, both the horse’s owner and Inspector Gregory had telegraphed for his assistance on the case. The flummoxed Watson responds, “Tuesday evening! And this is Thursday morning. Why didn’t you go down yesterday?” To which Holmes answers,  “Because I made a blunder, my dear Watson–which is, I am afraid, a more common occurrence than anyone would think who only knew me through your memoirs. The fact is that I could not believe it possible that the most remarkable horse in England could long remain concealed, especially in so sparsely inhabited a place as the north of Dartmoor.”

And there you have it.  The great Holmes has made a blunder.

See on blogs.scientificamerican.com

04
Feb
14

A Brief Guide to Embodied Cognition: Why You Are Not Your Brain

See on Scoop.itBounded Rationality and Beyond

Embodied cognition, the idea that the mind is not only connected to the body but that the body influences the mind, is one of the more counter-intuitive ideas in cognitive science. In sharp contrast is dualism, a theory of mind famously put forth by Rene Descartes in the 17th century when he claimed that “there is a great difference between mind and body, inasmuch as body is by nature always divisible, and the mind is entirely indivisible… the mind or soul of man is entirely different from the body.” In the proceeding centuries, the notion of the disembodied mind flourished. From it, western thought developed two basic ideas: reason is disembodied because the mind is disembodied and reason is transcendent and universal. However, as George Lakoff and Rafeal Núñez explain:

Cognitive science calls this entire philosophical worldview into serious question on empirical grounds… [the mind] arises from the nature of our brains, bodies, and bodily experiences. This is not just the innocuous and obvious claim that we need a body to reason; rather, it is the striking claim that the very structure of reason itself comes from the details of our embodiment… Thus, to understand reason we must understand the details of our visual system, our motor system, and the general mechanism of neural binding.

What exactly does this mean? It means that our cognition isn’t confined to our cortices. That is, our cognition is influenced, perhaps determined by, our experiences in the physical world. This is why we say that something is “over our heads” to express the idea that we do not understand; we are drawing upon the physical inability to not see something over our heads and the mental feeling of uncertainty. Or why we understand warmth with affection; as infants and children the subjective judgment of affection almost always corresponded with the sensation of warmth, thus giving way to metaphors such as “I’m warming up to her.”

See on blogs.scientificamerican.com

04
Feb
14

A Brief Guide to Embodied Cognition: Why You Are Not Your Brain

See on Scoop.itBounded Rationality and Beyond

Embodied cognition, the idea that the mind is not only connected to the body but that the body influences the mind, is one of the more counter-intuitive ideas in cognitive science. In sharp contrast is dualism, a theory of mind famously put forth by Rene Descartes in the 17th century when he claimed that “there is a great difference between mind and body, inasmuch as body is by nature always divisible, and the mind is entirely indivisible… the mind or soul of man is entirely different from the body.” In the proceeding centuries, the notion of the disembodied mind flourished. From it, western thought developed two basic ideas: reason is disembodied because the mind is disembodied and reason is transcendent and universal. However, as George Lakoff and Rafeal Núñez explain:

 

Cognitive science calls this entire philosophical worldview into serious question on empirical grounds… [the mind] arises from the nature of our brains, bodies, and bodily experiences. This is not just the innocuous and obvious claim that we need a body to reason; rather, it is the striking claim that the very structure of reason itself comes from the details of our embodiment… Thus, to understand reason we must understand the details of our visual system, our motor system, and the general mechanism of neural binding.

 

What exactly does this mean? It means that our cognition isn’t confined to our cortices. That is, our cognition is influenced, perhaps determined by, our experiences in the physical world. This is why we say that something is “over our heads” to express the idea that we do not understand; we are drawing upon the physical inability to not see something over our heads and the mental feeling of uncertainty. Or why we understand warmth with affection; as infants and children the subjective judgment of affection almost always corresponded with the sensation of warmth, thus giving way to metaphors such as “I’m warming up to her.”

See on blogs.scientificamerican.com




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