MIND

THE MARVELS AND THE FLAWS OF INTUITIVE THINKING: Edge Master Class 2011

[9.12.11]

The power of settings, the power of priming, and the power of unconscious thinking, all of those are a major change in psychology. I can't think of a bigger change in my lifetime. You were asking what's exciting? That's exciting, to me.

DANIEL KAHNEMAN is the Eugene Higgins Professor of Psychology Emeritus, Princeton University; Recipient, the 2002 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences; Author, Thinking Fast and Slow (forthcoming, October 25, 2011). 

Daniel Kahneman's Edge Bio Page 


In July, Edge held its annual Master Class in Napa, California on the theme: "The Science of Human Nature".  In the six week period that began September 12th, we are publishing the complete video, audio, and texts:  Princeton psychologist Daniel Kahneman on the marvels and the flaws of intuitive thinking; Harvard mathematical biologist Martin Nowak on the evolution of cooperation; Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker on the history of violence; UC-Santa Barbara evolutionary psychologist Leda Cosmides on the architecture of motivation; UC-Santa Barbara neuroscientist Michael Gazzaniga on neuroscience and the law; and Princeton religious historian Elaine Pagels on The Book of Revelation.

For publication schedule and details, go to Edge Master Class 2011: The Science of Human Nature.



THE MARVELS AND THE FLAWS OF INTUITIVE THINKING

The marvels and the flaws that I'll be talking about are the marvels and the flaws of intuitive thinking. It's a topic I've been thinking about for a long time, a little over 40 years. I wanted to show you a picture of my collaborator in this early work. What I'll be trying to do today is to sort of bring this up-to-date. I'll tell you a bit about the beginnings, and I'll tell you a bit about how I think about it today.

 

This is Amos Tversky, with whom I did the early work on judgment and decision-making. I show this picture in part because I like it, in part because I like very much the next one. That's what Amos Tversky looked like when the work was being done. I have always thought that this pairing of the very distinguished person, and the person who is doing the work tells you something about when good science is being done, and about who is doing good science. It's people like that who are having a lot of fun, who are doing good science.

We focused on flaws of intuition and of intuitive thinking, and I can tell you how it began. It began with a conversation about whether people are good intuitive statisticians or not. There was a claim at the University of Michigan by some people with whom Amos had studied, that people are good intuitive statisticians. I was teaching statistics at the time, and I was convinced that this was completely false. Not only because my students were not good intuitive statisticians, but because I knew I wasn't. My intuitions about things were quite poor, in fact, and this has remained one of the mysteries, and it's one of the things that I'd like to talk about today — what are the difficulties of statistical thinking, and why is it so difficult.

NEUROSCIENCE AND JUSTICE EDGE MASTER CLASS 2011

[7.16.11]

 

Asking the fundamental question of modern life. In an enlightened world of scientific understandings of first causes, we must ask: are we free, morally responsible agents or are we just along for the ride?

MICHAEL GAZZANIGA is a Neuroscientist; Professor of Psychology & Director, SAGE Center for the Study of Mind, University of California, Santa Barbara. His books include Human; The Ethical Brain; and Who's In Charge: Free Will and the Science of the Brain (forthcoming, November 11th).

Michael Gazzaniga's Edge Bio Page


[1:00:39 minutes]


In July, 2011 Edge convened The Science of Human Nature: The Edge Master class 2011 in Napa, California. We are pleased to pubish the complete video, texts, and downloadable MP3 audio of the six classes:  Princeton psychologist Daniel Kahneman on The Marvels and Flaws of Intuitive Thinking; Harvard mathematical biologist Martin Nowak on The Evolution of Cooperation;  Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker on The History of Violence;  UC-Santa Barbara evolutionary psychologist Leda Cosmides on The Architecture of Motivation; UC-Santa Barbara neuroscientist Michael Gazzaniga on Neuroscience and Justice; and (to come) Princeton religious historian Elaine Pagels on The Book of Revelation.

Click here for the Edge "Event" page for Edge Master Class 2011: The Science of Human Nature.


NEUROSCIENCE AND JUSTICE

[MICHAEL GAZZANIGA:] What I'm going to do is talk about neuroscience and how it may impact justice. I had to give a talk recently to judges and lawyers, but it really is the same talk you would give anybody. It is a summary of four years of effort that I've put into this MacArthur Law and Neuroscience project.

How that came about is there was a meeting in New York of lawyers, philosophers, neuroscientists, and psychologists. They met four or five years ago to talk about whether one should study the topic of law and neuroscience. I left the room to go to the bathroom or something, I came back and they said, okay, you're directing it. So don't leave the room when these things are going on because you get saddled with surprises!

Since "basic neuroscience for judges and lawyers" was exactly the wrong talk for you at 3:00 o'clock this afternoon, let's say "perspectives on basic neuroscience" because the former one reminds you of your high school biology class which most of you probably didn't like.

I'm going to give you the fastest three-minute review of neuroscience. As I said I just gave to the judges of the Second Circuit Court of New York.  Many of you maybe have cases in front of the Second Circuit, and they have a retreat every year up at Lake Sagamore , New York. The idea is: You can't, obviously, for someone who's not in neuroscience, you can't communicate the wealth of neuroscience in a hundred lectures, let alone one, let alone a few minutes. But you can kind of get a feel for it.

I want to take you through that feel and then take that into the question of how is this field of neuroscience going to impact how we think about the law and, more importantly, how we think about justice.

Insight

[7.2.11]

Judgments based on intuition seem mysterious because intuition doesn't involve explicit knowledge. It doesn't involve declarative knowledge about facts. Therefore, we can't explicitly trace the origins of our intuitive judgments. They come from other parts of our knowing. They come from our tacit knowledge and so they feel magical. Intuitions sometimes feel like we have ESP, but it isn't magical, it's really a consequence of the experience we've built up.

INTRODUCTION
By Daniel Kahneman

We are prone to think of the British as snobbish, a label that is rarely used to describe Americans. When it comes to the adjective "applied," however, the tables are turned. The word "applied" does not have any pejorative or diminishing connotation in Britain. Indeed, the Applied Psychology Unit on 15 Chaucer Road in Cambridge was for decades the leading source of new knowledge and new ideas in cognitive psychology. The members of that Unit did not see their applied work as a tax they had to pay to fund their true research. Their interest in the real world and in theory merged seamlessly, and the approach was enormously productive of contributions to both theory and practical applications.

In the US, the word "applied" tends to diminish anything academic it touches. Add the word to the name of any academic discipline, from mathematics and statistics to psychology, and you find lowered status.  The attitude changed briefly during World War II, when the best academic psychologists rolled up their sleeves to contribute to the war effort. I believe it was not an accident that the 15 years following the war were among the most productive in the history of the discipline.  Old methods were discarded, old methodological taboos were dropped, and common sense prevailed over stale theoretical disputes. However, the word "applied" did not retain its positive aura for very long. It is a pity.

Gary Klein is a living example of how useful applied psychology can be when it is done well. Klein is first and mainly a keen observer. He looks at people who are good at their job as they exercise their skills, sometimes in life-and-death situations, and he reports what he sees in clear and eloquent prose.  When you read his descriptions of real experts at work, you feel that it is the job of theorists to accommodate what he has seen – instead of doing what we often do, which is to scan the "real world" (when we think of it at all) for illustrations of our theoretical notions. Many of us in cognitive and social psychology are engaged in the important exercise that Lee Ross has wonderfully described as "bottling phenomena" and our theories are built to fit what we bottle.  Klein himself is a theorist as well as an observer, but his theoretical ideas start from what he does for a living: they are intended to describe and explain a large chunk of behavior in a context that matters. It is instructive to note which of the concepts that are current in academic psychology turn out to be useful to him.

Klein and I disagree on many things. In particular, I believe he is somewhat biased in favor of raw intuition, and he dislikes the very word "bias."  But I am convinced that there should be more psychologists like him, and that the art and science of observing behavior should have a larger place in our thinking and in our curricula than it does at present.  

— Daniel Kahneman

GARY KLEIN is a research psychologist famous for his work in pioneering the field of naturalistic decision making. Among his books are Sources of Power and Intuition.

DANIEL KAHNEMAN,  Eugene Higgins Professor of Psychology, Princeton University, is recipient of the 2002 Nobel Prize in Economics. He is the author of Thinking Fast and Slow.


INSIGHT

[GARY KLEIN:] What's the tradeoff between people using their experience (people using the knowledge they've gained, and the expertise that they've developed), versus being able to just follow steps and procedures?

We know from the literature that people sometimes make mistakes. A lot of organizations are worried about mistakes, and try to cut down on errors by introducing checklists, introducing procedures, and those are extremely valuable. I don't want to fly in an airplane with pilots who have forgot their checklists, and don't have any ways of going through formal procedures for getting the planes started, and handling malfunctions, standard malfunctions. Those procedures are extremely valuable, and I don't doubt any of that. The issue is how does that blend in with expertise? How do people make the tradeoffs when they start to become experts? And does it have to be one or the other? Do people either have to just follow procedures, or do they have to abandon all procedures and use their knowledge and their intuition? I'm asking whether it has to be a duality. I'm hoping that it doesn't and this gets us into the work on system one and system two thinking.

System one is really about intuition, people using the expertise and the experience they've gained. System two is a way of monitoring things, and we need both of those, and we need to blend them, and so it bothers me to see controversies about which is the right one, or are people fundamentally irrational, and therefore they can't be trusted? Obviously system one is marvelous. Danny Kahneman has put it this way, "system one is marvelous, intuition is marvelous but flawed." And system two isn't the replacement for our intuition and for our experience, it's a way of making sure we don't get ourselves in trouble.

Insight

Topic: 

  • MIND
http://vimeo.com/83528479

"Judgments based on intuition seem mysterious because intuition doesn't involve explicit knowledge. It doesn't involve declarative knowledge about facts. Therefore, we can't explicitly trace the origins of our intuitive judgments. They come from other parts of our knowing. They come from our tacit knowledge and so they feel magical. Intuitions sometimes feel like we have ESP, but it isn't magical, it's really a consequence of the experience we've built up."

The Social Psychological Narrative, or, What Is Social Psychology, Anyway?

[6.7.11]

 

One of the basic assumptions of the field is that it's not the objective environment that influences people, but their constructs of the world. You have to get inside people's heads and see the world the way they do. You have to look at the kinds of narratives and stories people tell themselves as to why they're doing what they're doing. What can get people into trouble sometimes in their personal lives, or for more societal problems, is that these stories go wrong. People end up with narratives that are dysfunctional in some way.


[33:25 minutes]

 

TIMOTHY D. WILSON, the Sherrell J. Aston Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia, is author of Strangers To Ourselves("the most influential book I've ever read",  Malcolm Gladwell), which was named by The New York Times Magazine as one of the Best 100 Ideas of 2002 He is also the coauthor of the best-selling social psychology textbook, Social Psychology, now in its seventh edition. His latest trade book is Redirect: The Surprising New Science of Psychological Change. 

Timothy D Wilson's Edge Bio Page

THE REALITY CLUB: Steven PinkerDaniel Gilbert, Timothy Wilson, Hugo Mercier

Introduction

by Daniel Gilbert

Psychology has always had a love-hate relationship with the unconscious, but mainly hate. The unconscious was the cornerstone of Freud’s theories about the mind, but William James expressed the views of many early 20th century scientists when he referred to it as "the sovereign means for believing what one likes in psychology, and for turning what might become a science into a tumbling-ground for whimsies." James’s antipathy was contagious and his arguments won the day. The unconscious was banished to psychology’s basement for more than half a century.

But in the mid 1970’s, Tim Wilson and Dick Nisbett opened the basement door with their landmark paper entitled "Telling More Than We Can Know," in which they reported a series of experiments showing that people are often unaware of the true causes of their own actions, and that when they are asked to explain those actions, they simply make stuff up. People don’t realize they are making stuff up, of course; they truly believe the stories they are telling about why they did what they did.  But as the experiments showed, people are telling more than they can know. The basement door was opened by experimental evidence, and the unconscious took up permanent residence in the living room. Today, psychological science is rife with research showing the extraordinary power of unconscious mental processes.

If liberating the unconscious had been Wilson’s only contribution to psychological science, it would have been enough. But it was just the start. Wilson has since discovered and documented a variety of fascinating ways in which all of us are "strangers to ourselves" (which also happens to be the title of his last book—a book that Malcolm Gladwell, writing in the New Yorker, correctly called the best popular psychology book published in the last twenty years). He has done brilliant research on topics ranging from "reasons analysis" (it turns out that when people are asked to generate reasons for their decisions, they typically make bad ones) to "affective forecasting" (it turns out that people can’t predict how future events will make them feel), but at the center of all his work lies a single enigmatic insight: we seem to know less about the worlds inside our heads than about the world our heads are inside.

The Torah asks this question: "Is not a flower a mystery no flower can explain?" Some scholars have said yes, some scholars have said no. Wilson has said, "Let’s go find out." He has always worn two professional hats — the hat of the psychologist and the hat of the methodologist. He has written extensively about the importance of using experimental methods to solve real world problems, and in his work on the science of psychological change — he uses a scientific flashlight to chase away a whole host of shadows by examining the many ways in which human beings try to change themselves — from self-help to psychotherapy — and asking whether these things really work, and if so, why? His answers will surprise many people and piss off the rest. I predict that this new work will be the center of a very interesting storm.

— Daniel Gilbert, Harvard College Professor of Psychology at Harvard University; Director of Harvard’s Hedonic Psychology Laboratory; Author, Stumbling on Happiness.


THE SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGICAL NARRATIVE — OR — WHAT IS SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY, ANYWAY?

[TIMOTHY D. WILSON:] Questions that I have asked myself throughout my career are largely ones about self-knowledge and the role of the conscious mind versus unconsciousness; the limits of introspection; and the problems of introspection. For example, how it can sometimes get us into trouble to think too much about why we're doing what we’re doing. These are questions I began asking in graduate school with my graduate advisor, Dick Nisbett, and they have concerned me ever since.

The Social Psychological Narrative — or — What Is Social Psychology, Anyway?

Topic: 

  • MIND
https://vimeo.com/82233782

"One of the basic assumptions of the field is that it's not the objective environment that influences people, but their constructs of the world. You have to get inside people's heads and see the world the way they do. You have to look at the kinds of narratives and stories people tell themselves as to why they're doing what they're doing. What can get people into trouble sometimes in their personal lives, or for more societal problems, is that these stories go wrong. People end up with narratives that are dysfunctional in some way."

The Argumentative Theory

[4.27.11]

Last July, opening the Edge Seminar, "The New Science of Morality", Jonathan Haidt digressed to talk about two recently-published papers in Behavioral and Brain Sciences which he believed were "so important that the abstracts from them should be posted in psychology departments all over the country."

One of the papers "Why Do Humans Reason? Arguments for an Argumentative Theory," published by Behavioral and Brain Sciences, was by Hugo Mercier and Dan Sperber. 

"The article,” Haidt said, "is a review of a puzzle that has bedeviled researchers in cognitive psychology and social cognition for a long time. The puzzle is, why are humans so amazingly bad at reasoning in some contexts, and so amazingly good in others?"

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