Sometimes, particularly on television, decision making is presented as a choice between careful analysis and “going with the gut.” On television, of course, the gut always wins. However, in the real world this is a false dichotomy. We often, particularly in a crisis, do neither. Instead we use “heuristics.”
Heuristics enable us to make fast, highly (but not perfectly) accurate, decisions without taking too much time and searching for information. Heuristics allow us to focus on only a few pieces of information and ignore the rest.
“Experts … often search for less information than novices do.”
[Varying a lot of experimental parameters is] much easier to do in physics than psychology– physics apparatus is complicated and expensive, but once you have it, atoms are cheap and you can run your experiment over and over and over again. Human subjects, on the other hand, are a giant pain in the ass– not only do you need to do paperwork to get permission to work with them, but they’re hard to find, and many of them expect to be compensated for their time. And it’s hard to get them to come in to the lab at four in the morning so you can keep your experiment running around the clock.
From The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking, which I am reading now. Excellent book.
That’s the implication of a newly published study, which found wearing a white lab coat — a piece of clothing associated with care and attentiveness — improved performance on tests requiring close and sustained attention. Importantly, the effect was not found when the garment in question was identified as a visual artist’s coat.
Why Liberals Are More Intelligent Than Conservatives: Liberals think they’re more intelligent than conservatives because they are reported on a study that claims precisely this.
Shawn Smith, the “Iron Shrink”, responded with Are Liberals More Intelligent than Conservatives? Another Broken Study Says It Is So
Skepchick Stacey summarized Smith’s arguments, concluding:
The point isn’t that liberals aren’t more intelligent than conservatives – maybe they are, maybe they aren’t – but this study hasn’t proven it. The point is that if the evidence is bad, I have to ignore it – even when it tells me what I want to hear.
Having taken, and understood, some serious classes in the mathematics of probability, the mentality of the gambler is incomprehensible to me. One of our cars has a bumper sticker that says: “Lottery: A tax on people who are bad at math.”
So I found this interesting: Gambling: The almost-winning addiction