Danger of heuristics in decision making

Posted by Slytherin 5 years, 2 months ago to Education
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These little mental shortcuts scare me. You don't always realize you are using it and they seem wired in from somewhere. Combine that with vast social media and mind control may already be in use...

The weapons of choice against it are obvious. The question becomes where do these heuristics come from and how do you convince others that the harder way is the much safer road?


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  • Posted by minorwork 5 years, 2 months ago
    Heuristics are described as "judgmental shortcuts that generally get us where we need to go – and quickly – but at the cost of occasionally sending us off course."[2] Heuristics are useful because they use effort-reduction and simplification in decision-making.[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Represe...

    That heuristics have risks should not be the sole sufficient and necessary reason to discard their use. Risk can be managed to take advantage of the reduced effort and simplicity of the techniques. These save time which is a commodity worthy of note, eh? I think so and my personal heuristic holds as a meditation on certainty. I have and retain a firm policy of flexibility. ;-)
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  • Posted by $ Thoritsu 5 years, 2 months ago
    Is there a link I can't find? What heuristics?
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    • Posted by $ blarman 5 years, 2 months ago
      Agreed. I'd rather have a more concrete analysis to comment on.
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      • Posted by not-you 5 years, 2 months ago
        Dudes, here is a link. http://friedom.com/?p=402 Its more or less a, "Heuristics for Dummies" essay, since heuristics covers a spectrum of cognitive processes in a wide range of domains; but have no doubt you can take the concept and run with it :-)
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        • Posted by $ Thoritsu 5 years, 2 months ago
          Ok, I know what heuristics is. I thought you had a particular issue in mind.

          Clearly one can manipulate people with these, and social media is adept at it. Unfortunately these thought processes are far more widespread than objective thinking. Therefore, I recommend some of us that seek to convince others become adept at some of these in an appropriate manner to bring people around to objective thinking.
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  • Posted by $ sjatkins 5 years, 2 months ago
    You have little choice but to use heuristics. It is part of the power of the mind. You can no more discard them than you can do away with induction - a dangerous mental leap at the heard of abstraction and creative thinking. Your emotions are also heuristics in a way - highly automated responses based upon past thinking and experience.

    For some types of problems we have no closed solutions or efficient step by step ways to solve them. We must rely on heuristics that address common and general cases. There is no such think as 100% perfect or flawless thinking for humans or any other conceivable being. We must mix and match as best we can to get the best understanding and conclusions possible in the time available and with the resources, including the limits of our own brains, available.

    We deal with reality, not some idealized non-existent state.
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  • Posted by Zero 5 years, 2 months ago
    Is it just the concept of heuristics that concerns you? Do you feel there is no legitimate use for them?
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    • Posted by 5 years, 2 months ago
      After reading this discussion I concede that there is a use for them as long as it enforces positive behaviors. Heuristics developed for a purpose but I feel it is relied upon too much.
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  • Posted by Herb7734 5 years, 2 months ago
    Heuristic = lazy.
    I'm always tempted to take the quick and easy road in every application from mental to physical. It almost always turns out badly. Convincing others depends on how much they are invested in their heuristic conclusions. Rational people can become lazy and when you point out the incorrectness of their road to their conclusion, usually they'll see it and change. If not, save your breath.
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  • Posted by not-you 5 years, 2 months ago
    Denise, I'm going to go out onto an heuristically supported limb and ask you a question. :-) Are you studying Ed. Psyc?
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    • Posted by 5 years, 2 months ago
      Not formally. But I read a lot. Psychology is an interest.
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      • Posted by not-you 5 years, 2 months ago
        Your comments and questions intrigued me because so many people (even brilliant & educated ones) don't practice meta-cognition. Rather than sit here to write and edit for at least an hour,[Psychology was one of my careers.] I looked around and found something that you may want to look at. http://friedom.com/?p=402
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        • Posted by not-you 5 years, 2 months ago
          "how do you convince others that the harder way is the much safer road?" .....I'm not sure about "safer" but convincing someone to behave in a way that is counter intuitive but much more "effective" (than the self-defeating behaviors in which they keep engaging) is one of the most difficult tasks facing a mental health practitioner--especially with traumatized individuals.
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          • Posted by blackswan 5 years, 2 months ago
            I've seen this play out in the welfare state system. It's much "harder" to work, even starting at minimum wage, than to take welfare. However, in the long run, it truly is "easier." The trap is in whether or not you think long term or not. Immediate gratification makes the "easy" solution seem so easy, but it's destructive in the long term. The "difficult" solution is truly the correct one, but only if you think long term.
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  • Posted by $ Olduglycarl 5 years, 2 months ago
    I see your point, one's mere flawed or not flawed philosophy of life can cause one to side with solutions in alignment with that philosophy, thereby perpetuating compartmentalization.
    It would seem that trying innovative ways, short cuts as it were, in problem solving are intended to be integrative, not compartmentalizing or leading to lazy thinking; as in using the same process over and over failing to possible see that your short cut doesn't always apply. (sounds like today's science and it's results),
    I think this process was meant to adapt to the situation, knew knowledge, then the process wouldn't lead to an algorithm of sorts. As I am sure most realize that things not set by algorithms can not be solved in an algorithmic way
    Yes, sometimes the hard way is the best way in instances where no previous successful path has been established.
    It is integration that leads one to innovation and that takes knowledge of all sorts, uncompromised by compartmental walls.
    Brings about a new meaning to the 'free flow of information' but in the mind, not the brain.
    The brain is structured for established pathways and creating new one's is timely. The mind is much quicker.
    It comes down to 'brain power' or 'mind speed'.
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  • Posted by $ MichaelAarethun 5 years, 2 months ago
    I thought of the perfect example for when the approach is not such a good idea. When you are in the military and the Commander-In-Chief is using the technique to learn the job. The dictionary described it as a trial and error method. Ouch! A valid score using that example is 18:1 the numbers represent US Service Personnel killed. The second number was wars started by non-Democrats. 1949 Greece to present day.' Slytherin ahead by a wide error less margin Most any Time Almanac will give you the figures. Or just ask a grunt.
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  • Posted by CircuitGuy 5 years, 2 months ago
    I agree completely. Heuristics allow us to make quick decisions but certainly lead us astray. They don't always give us the right answer that we would get by actually doing the math.
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    • Posted by $ WilliamShipley 5 years, 2 months ago
      Sometimes you don't know the math. Chess can sometimes be evaluated to a deterministic conclusion, but in general the number of options make calculations impractical. Heuristics allow the selection of moves in the face of uncertainty.
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      • Posted by $ MichaelAarethun 5 years, 2 months ago
        -Take not council of your fears
        -The best defense is a good offense
        -A defense is only a place from which to prepare an ambush.
        -Attack the hollow, avoid the weak.
        -Allow them the courtesy of letting them weaken then kill themselves.
        -The only uncertainty is to think there is uncertainty
        When absolutely all else fails. Change the battle field, the battle time by switching to Plan 7a.
        Stay flexible and make appointments.
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        • Posted by 5 years, 2 months ago
          Where did you get this from? It sounds poetic.
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          • Posted by $ MichaelAarethun 5 years, 2 months ago
            24 years in the combat arms. If someone asked what is 7A the answer was 'working on it.'

            Another one courtesy of George Patton who did the first one is something about you are not supposed to die for your country. That's the other guys job. But making appoints follows. Most of this stuff goes back thousands of years. SunTzu Art of War for one. More things change they more they stay the same.
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            • Posted by $ MichaelAarethun 5 years, 2 months ago
              I should give a better example. I spent most of my life taking all manner of medical training not as a medic but the immediate stuff one does. Military or civilian Red and Green Cross merchant marine boy scouts until I had occasion to use the techniques on a near drowning just a few weeks ago at the pool. The repetitious training took over later I reviewed the steps in talking to the para medics and doctor and got two thumbs up. I don't even remember making a decision as to what when in what order. Someone else had to do the trial and error all I had to do was embed the procedure in my mind and muscle memory. This time it wasn't a mannequin. Over the years the procedures have changed for resuscitation In this case a good thump or two on the back of the six year old caused water to spurt up and coughing = breathing to kick in. Pulse ok etc. Just like burping a baby. The same thing applies to any skill. Watch a good dirt mover on one of the machines or a crane operator or someone on a lathe or instructing a class in some subject. The only thing that's still truly hueristic is doing the #$$$%%%%%%^^^^^^^^^^^^^!!! taxes there's no hope for anything but trial and error. I'm switching to turbo tax next year.
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      • Posted by johnpe1 5 years, 2 months ago
        I startled a passenger in my car, the other day, by slowly
        pulling out in front of someone who was turning left across
        a 5-lane road packed with traffic. . we were doing a legal
        u-turn from the "crash lane" in the middle. . I used
        heuristic "analysis" of the driver's face to decide that
        it was safe to pull out, in front of his car. . he was a
        grey-haired calm-looking man driving a clean little
        black sedan. . fast analysis, based on experience,
        turned out okay. . there was no math available
        at that moment ... but it is always a risk!!! -- j

        p.s. I haven't had an accident in decades.
        .
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        • Posted by $ MichaelAarethun 5 years, 2 months ago
          Excellent. US people drive way over the limit too close together and one or two cars ahead. europeans routinely drive ten cars ahead or more at much faster speeds. I'm tempted to ask the difference in accident rates and if a study has been made to determine which type of analysis is in use. Some how trial and error fits the US model much more than the European model but then my mind was in survival mode in both situations.

          Rule of thumb find a taxi with an older driver and no dents. Then use the fox hole analogy which holds their are no atheists when the bullets are flying. Close your eyes and pray a lot until reaching the destination. In any large city prepare for an inflated bill. It's a mater of off looking at death in the face with eyes wide shut and wallet wide open. Seems to come with a high survival rate. The alternative is tour bus or a hotel shuttle. Works in every city in the worlds - so far.
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          • Posted by johnpe1 5 years, 2 months ago
            I was on a business trip to houston TX once, and had an
            additional agenda while there -- to pick up a T shirt from a
            particular restaurant. . after trying to convince some of the
            crew to go with me, without success, I called for a taxi to
            take me there for supper, one night. . when the taxi arrived,
            I asked if I could sit in the front seat. . with a yes answer, we
            had a neat ride to the restaurant -- the driver was a
            middle-aged man with a family and a clean machine.
            I got the shirt -- for a division manager at work -- which reads
            "Suck Me, Shuck Me, Eat Me Raw ... the Atchafalaya River Cafe" -- j

            p.s. got one of those shirts for me, too!
            .
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