Monthly Archives: January 2014

Questions about the Recognition Heuristic


rh6002This is the second post based on Pohl’s paper, “On the Use of Recognition in Inferential Decision Making.”  Pohl looks at what have come to be seen as weaknesses of the recognition heuristic.

Recognition as a memory-based process
While acknowledging that recognition should generally be treated as a continuous variable, Goldstein and Gigerenzer  focused on the outcome of this recognition process, which is either “recognized” or “not recognized” with only a small and negligible gray zone of uncertainty in between. Accordingly, the quality of these subjective recognition judgments, that is, whether
they were true or not or with what confidence, was originally not considered. Meanwhile, some researchers have asked whether and how the recognition process itself possibly affects subsequent inferences.

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On the Use of Recognition in Inferential Decision Making


sanantonio450This post and the next post are based on Rudiger Pohl’s article, “On the Use of Recognition in Inferential Decision Making” that appeared in the Journal of Judgment and Decision Making in 2011.  The Journal had three issues devoted to recognition.  Pohl provides the best summary and is also the last.  I found that some of the articles with two or three authors trying to come up with a summary failed apparently because there was so much disagreement among the authors.

“Intuition is nothing more or less than recognition.”  Daniel Kahneman delivers this and credits Simon in Thinking Fast and Thinking Slow.  Pohl’s article does not address this statement, but it helps me address it. Maybe the statement is not making intuition simpler, but making recognition much more complicated.

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How Do We Convert a Number into a Finger Trajectory?

dehaene7UntitledWhat does this post have to do with judgment and decision making?  In the long run, it might have some connection.  For now, I just think that it is a cool experiment. Although Dehaene probably had a secondary role in this, he always seems to make complicated things seem simple.  “How do we convert a number into a finger trajectory?” Dror Dotan and Stanislas Dehaene, appeared in Cognition 129 (2013) 512–52.

The invention of multi-digit numbers is a major achievement that took mankind centuries to develop. The innovation was the idea that large numbers can be represented with merely 10 symbols by relying on their relative positions. During education, the human brain learns the decimal system and, ultimately, it becomes very intuitive that the digit 4 in 41 stands for four decades, while the digit 4 in 14 stands for four units. But what is it exactly that we understand? How does our brain represent multi-digit quantities, and what are the processes that convert a sequence of digit symbols into this quantity representation?    In investigating these questions Dotan and Dehaene  aimed not only to describe the various cognitive representations of numbers in educated adults, but also to dissect the successive stages by which multi-digit Arabic numbers are converted into quantities.

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Justified True Belief Triggers False Recall of “Knowing”

gettierThis post is based on the paper presented at the 2013 Annual Conference of the of the Cognitive Science Society, “Justified True Belief Triggers False Recall of “Knowing”” by Derek Powell, Zachary Horne, Angel Pinillos, and Keith J. Holyoak. People’s beliefs are the primary drivers of their actions, yet these beliefs are often uncertain—the products of limited information about the world and interconnections between other (often uncertain) beliefs.

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Coherence Shifts and Jury Decisions

coherenceshiftThis post is based on the paper: “Can We Trust Intuitive Jurors? Standards of Proof and the Probative Value of Evidence in Coherence-Based Reasoning,” written by Andreas Glöckner and Christoph Engel, Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, Volume 10, Issue 2, 230–252, June 2013. Standards of proof discussed in the article are not included in this post.

Glockner and Engel explain that Jury members have a difficult task. They have to make decisions based on multiple pieces of probabilistic evidence. These pieces of information are usually contradictory, essentially always incomplete, presented in multiple formats (making them hard to compare and integrate), and introduced by parties clearly intending to bias the jury.  How do jury members then make meaningful decisions? Glockner and Engel suggest that there is mounting evidence that most people do not mathematically integrate evidence. Their behavior is better explained by sense making and constructing coherent stories from the evidence. Jurors attempt to create complete narratives from the pieces of evidence they hear.

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David Brooks “Beyond the Brain” and Brainwashed, the Seductive Appeal of Mindless Neuroscience

brainwashedimagesI chickened out on this post in June since I had not read Brainwashed, the Seductive Appeal of Mindless Neuroscience.  Having finally read it, my impressions  were on point.  The Satel book is half notes and bibliography and index. It is a masterpiece of wild assertions countered with broad caveats.  Having heard Satel on a “Science Friday” podcast, she seemed reasonable and backed down from about every assertion from the book that was countered  by other panel members, Gary Marcus of New York University,  David Eagleman of Baylor College of Medicine, and Russell Poldrack of the University of Texas. It made me see how tough being a non-first tier scholar at the American Enterprise Institute must be.  She does not make a great amount of money, and I can imagine her boss saying:

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