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Why Do Smart Guys Love Kahneman's "Thinking, Fast and Slow"?
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From the New York Times sports section:

This Book Is Not About Baseball. But Baseball Teams Swear by It.

A psychology book by a Nobel Prize-winning author has become a must-read in front offices. It is changing the sport.

“Thinking, Fast and Slow” has nothing — and everything — to do with baseball.

By Joe Lemire
Feb. 24, 2021

… [Daniel] Kahneman, a professor emeritus at Princeton University and a winner of the Nobel Prize in economics in 2002, later wrote “Thinking, Fast and Slow,” a book that has become essential among many of baseball’s front offices and coaching staffs.

There aren’t many explicit references to baseball in “Thinking, Fast and Slow,” yet many executives swear by it. It has circulated heavily in the front offices of the Oakland Athletics, the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Baltimore Orioles and the Astros, among others. …

Andrew Friedman, the president of baseball operations for the Dodgers, recently cited the book as having “a real profound impact,” and said he reflects back on it when evaluating organizational processes.

I reviewed Kahneman’s bestseller in 2012.

Thinking, Fast and Slow’s basic idea is helpful, if not terribly startling: Acts of human cognition can be pictured as falling along a continuum from intuition (which is fast and fun) to logic (which is slow and tiring). Snap judgments work well enough much of the time, especially by avoiding paralysis through analysis. Not surprisingly, fast thinking is susceptible to various shortcomings, as Kahneman has shown over the decades via countless experiments of the kind in which psychology majors pick up a spare ten bucks.

If Kahneman’s basic finding—you can fool a lot of the people a lot of the time—wasn’t so obvious already to those who aren’t economists, a reader might sometimes wonder about his methodology.

My objection to Thinking, Fast and Slow is that it seldom starts from actual real-world examples of mistaken thinking. Instead, it starts out from extremely contrived brain-teasers that were designed to fool you into giving the wrong answer, such as the famous “Linda is a bank teller” one where Tversky and Kahneman fool the public by severely violating the Chekhov’s Gun principle of good storytelling.

Then in 2017, I reviewed Michael Moneyball Lewis’s biography of Kahneman and his late partner Amos Tversky, two Israeli IQ scientists, The Undoing Project and pointed out more of why I’m less wowed than most by Thinking, Fast and Slow:

Now, this may sound to you and me like a debate over whether the glass is part full or part empty, but Kahneman’s intellect is more powerful than supple.

For example, here’s one of Kahneman’s first brain twisters:

The mean I.Q. of the population of eighth-graders in a city is known to be 100. You have selected a random sample of 50 children for a study of educational achievement. The first child tested has an I.Q. of 150. What do you expect the mean I.Q. to be for the whole sample?

An I.Q. of 150 is quite rare: It should occur randomly only once out of every 2,330 people. So in this case you might well wonder whether the sample is really “random” or just how confidently it is “known” that the mean is 100.

After all, the United States military severely screwed up the scoring of their I.Q.-like AFQT enlistment test from 1976 to 1980. Senator Sam Nunn kept asking the Pentagon why sergeants were complaining to him that the military was suddenly letting in some real dumb-asses.

The brass, however, scoffed at Nunn’s lowly informants. Obviously, the sergeants were irrationally biased. What could drill instructors possibly know about psychometrics?

But after several years of denial, the Pentagon suddenly announced that their psychologists had accidentally inflated the test’s scoring.

Yet, according to Kahneman, it is irrational for you to worry about real-world concerns like these. He has stipulated that the sample is random and the mean is 100, so that’s all you need to know.

Hence, the rational answer is 101 and no other responses are acceptable. …

I’m a lot more skeptical of IQ testing than Kahneman is.

For example, it never seems to have occurred to Lewis that Oakland A’s baseball general manager Billy Beane might not have drawn back the curtain on his statistical techniques for the benefit of Lewis’s Moneyball purely out of a disinterested love of advancing learning. …

Moneyball diverted attention to obscure Oakland fringe players and away from Beane employing in 2002 a slugging shortstop, Miguel Tejada, who won the Most Valuable Player award by driving in a remarkable 131 runs.

And then, two years later, Tejada knocked in 150 runs.

A shortstop with 150 RBIs is about as plausible as a randomly chosen child with a 150 I.Q.

(See? There was a reason I put in those details.) …

In 2009, Tejada pleaded guilty to perjuring himself to Congress regarding steroids.

But, seriously, would there be a market for a less Aspergery book that starts with real-world mistakes that people commonly make? Or is Kahneman’s extremely nerdish way of thinking part of the appeal? Do nerds love reading about how the super-nerd tricks the normies into revealing how stupid they are?

 
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  1. Or is Kahneman’s extremely nerdish way of thinking part of the appeal?

    It’s part of the appeal because the book’s popularity is likely not because it asks you to think for yourself but to give over through obscurantism to the end verdict of the guru who wrote it. Middle manager types love this and other books by like it because the less you understand it, the more you’re convinced by the end verdict and that it must be right because you didn’t quite follow how it got to the conclusion.

    It’s only so fitting that an economist wrote it since the field since the Chicago school has been to invent a world only these gurus can guide you through.

    A bit like how one of Bitcoin’s biggest strengths is the absence of it’s creator, giving it an aura of a thing that was discovered rather than created or which has current developers. Contrast with Ethereum whose autistic creator is very much front and centre and much of the mystique (And market cap) escapes despite apparently being better at functioning as an actual cryptocurrency (Theoretically what gives Bitcoin any value) than Bitcoin.

    • Agree: Oscar Peterson
    • Replies: @Dieter Kief
    @Altai


    It’s part of the appeal because the book’s popularity is likely not because it asks you to think for yourself but to give over through obscurantism to the end verdict of the guru who wrote it. Middle manager types love this
     
    I just helped somebody out a bit with an exam paper in drama school and what did come up in the introductory section: The whole ghost parade of (supposedly) super-checkers (including Kahnemann and Tversky with three books and David Eagleman, and ... Malcolm Gladwell...) - and to no other end than to - (supposedly) impress and shine.
    Its a cult.

    Replies: @Altai, @Altai

    , @Oscar Peterson
    @Altai

    All part of the (Jewish) guru phenomenon and the echo chamber effect of one of them, given a platform by another of them, to tell us how brilliant and insightful a third one of them is.

    The tribe in action. This is how the goy baseball stat guy in the book Moneyball (and, in fact, in reality) becomes, in the movie, a geeky little Jew-like creature.

    , @Kratoklastes
    @Altai

    Kahnemann is not a fucking economist.

    He's a psychocharlatan who arbitraged across to the field - who portrays 2nd year undergraduate pedagogical models as if they are the state-of-the-art.

    Ariely and the rest of the "Gotcha, rationality!" crowd are the same: get 20 WEIRD undergrads, make up some malarkey choice with a payoff differential close to zero, and then pretend to act surprised when people's choices indicate that they spent fuck-all mental effort making the decision.

    That's worth a Faux-Nobel, apparently.

    This is as bad as Rogoff being unable to use Excel properly - as I've said before, Excel is a toy for shitheads and has no place in quantitative analysis (not even for preliminary examination of the data).

  2. anon[358] • Disclaimer says:

    Steve…you are just too damn Bayesian.

    People are natural Bayesians. But even really smart people find the logic of null hypothesis significance tests virtually unintelligible, or nonsense.

    As far as practical examples, you have your cognitive bias examples. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cognitive_biases

    I would say that avoiding confirmation bias can be profitable in the stock market.

    Come to think of it, that was the the entire point of Moneyball.

    And then there are stereotype bias. Except they test out as true and useful.

    I bought the book, but couldn’t get through it. I think it rubs Bayesians the wrong way. Michael Lewis is annoying, also.

    • Replies: @utu
    @anon

    Too many people are suffering from the Bayesian woo. Just a buzzword for Yudkowsky crowd.

    Replies: @very old statistician

    , @Hypnotoad666
    @anon

    IIRC, a lot of Khaneman's examples of supposedly systemically biased thinking haven't survived the replication crisis very well.

    One of Khaneman's problems was that he thought he could rely on meta-studies that aggregated the results of many small studies. But due to the prevalence of publication bias, p-hacking, etc., he just ended up aggregating the consistent bias of other researchers.

    That seems like an example of Steve's exact criticism. He was too willing to accept an assumed premise -- i.e., that the sample is random and unbiased.

    I think this is also one of the fair criticisms of economists generally. The discipline works by making assumptions that hold most variables constant in order to test a hypothesis. But after working with a certain assumed fact long enough, they sometimes forget that it eventually needs to be verified for the conclusions to hold.

  3. Why Do Smart Guys Love Kahneman’s “Thinking, Fast and Slow”?

    I LOVE KAHNEMAN’S THINKING FAST AND SLOW

    I WANT RESPECT

    • Agree: Sean
  4. A far more interesting author is Nasim Taleb who essentially dismisses a lot of the contrived unreal experiments engaged in by both psychology and Economics “boffins” or “eggheads” in favour of real world “skin in the game” intuition and knowledge.

    I enjoyed Kahneman’s book but is it really all that insightful to tell is that quick decisions are not of necessity evidence-based and that the heuristics or rules of thumb we use to quicken decisions may not be accurate?

    No it isn’t. Wrap common sense up in jargon and experiment and you have a best seller

    • Replies: @kpkinsunnyphiladelphia
    @Intensifier

    Taleb is great in many ways, but on the other hand he can take risk aversion to the extreme.

    He's a big mask proponent for one, under the assumption that even if it provides only a modicum of protection it's worth it because in the end there isn't much difference otherwise, objectively, from wearing versus NOT wearing one. "Harmless" risk minimization anti-fragility techniques should always be used.

    But he's not one to concern himself over the social and psychological consequences of doing so. He's a true objectivist.

    He has also railed against IQ as a measurement of intelligence, especially at the right side of the tail, arguing that value at risk financial engineers have high IQs but have destroyed markets. It's kind of astonishing that a guy as smart as he is can engage in the logical fallacy of assuming the causality of the whole from the part.

    To his credit, even though he's a first rate math guy, Taleb had a lot of respect for guys in the options pits who knew what they were doing through rules of thumb and deep understanding of market behavior, even though some probably didn't get past 1st level Calculus.

    As for Kahneman you gotta give the guy some props, applying "best use of resources" in his own intellectual life.

    Hmmm....where can I make the most money as a Nobel economist? Writing a textbook for undergraduate economic survey courses....or writing a perpetual New York Times best seller I can dash off in a few months, leavening the whole thing with a bit of intellectual legerdemain?

    The question answer itself.

  5. My feeling is that there would be a substantial, but different, market for a book about real world mistakes, but that it might not get a fair chance if the author was a thought criminal.

  6. This is the appeal of obscurantism.

    There is not just bullshit art; there is bullshit science, too.

    • Replies: @Anon
    @Bardon Kaldian

    How much of psychology is bullshit? Here’s an interesting article from 2014.


    The British amateur who debunked the mathematics of happiness

    The astonishing story of Nick Brown, the British man who began a part-time psychology course in his 50s – and ended up taking on America's academic establishment

    https://www.theguardian.com/science/2014/jan/19/mathematics-of-happiness-debunked-nick-brown
     

    One of the debunkers along with Brown was none other than Alan Sokal.
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Sokal
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sokal_affair

    Replies: @Bardon Kaldian

  7. But, seriously, would there be a market for a less Aspergery book that starts with real-world mistakes that people commonly make? Or is Kahneman’s extremely nerdish way of thinking part of the appeal?

    In the real world of uncertainty, an experienced expert’s intuition is worth asking for on their particular area of expertise, but they often can’t explain exactly why they take a particular view of an issue. The appeal of Kahneman is he implies a certain formalism of thinking applied to the limited amount of facts made explicit when stating a particular problem can make one the superior of a seasoned observer with vast background knowledge. Kahneman’s books sell because they imply one can be a Superman.

  8. Acts of human cognition can be pictured as falling along a continuum from intuition (which is fast and fun) to logic (which is slow and tiring). Snap judgments work well enough much of the time, especially by avoiding paralysis through analysis.

    Steve here has described the difference between normal, human thought and that of a sufferer of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.

    OCD can really be described as “paralysis through analysis.”

    If you truly have an OCD brain or whatever, you find it difficult to mentally work things out on the continuum, which runs from “intuition (which is fast and fun) to logic (which is slow and tiring).” Every, single, little thing you do is subject to logical analysis and re-analysis and correction, ad infinitum.

    These little things can be as small as setting a book down on a desk, making sure it isn’t too close to the edge and won’t fall off. Or checking to make sure you aren’t bumping into the door frame as you walk into a room. And on, and on, forever.

    It can also mean checking and correcting and deleting and re-writing a comment on a blog — when it really isn’t necessary.

    Let’s just say that it is extremely important to distinguish between thinking fast and thinking slow, to do one or the other at the appropriate time. When you can’t, you have a debilitating mental illness. This is a very important subject that perhaps most “normal” people don’t appreciate.

    • Replies: @Known Fact
    @Buzz Mohawk

    Your OCD/Analysis by Paralysis point is fascinating. I suppose there are disorders that trap people into the other end of the spectrum as well -- mentally shooting from the hip every time, with no analysis.

    Replies: @Muggles

    , @nebulafox
    @Buzz Mohawk

    >It can also mean checking and correcting and deleting and re-writing a comment on a blog — when it really isn’t necessary.

    I've done this, too.

    My behavior doesn't match your examples perfectly-different diagnosis-but the "paralysis through analysis" is something I understand all too well. I can't help but wonder if one factor is just the level of stimuli modern life has.

  9. How about this one? It’s a bit more scholarly:

    I just noticed that it is edited by Kahnemann, too.

    Or this, which is another of the thing books category. I always find these immensely boring as there is not enough synthesis … yes I know you have to be computationally fast and hope it works out from time to time and you can be computationally more precise and have a better chance at being right from time to time. Maybe. If your refined algorithm applies, is correct and completely ass-backwards.

    Or anything by Gigerenzer:

    • Agree: Dieter Kief
    • Replies: @Dieter Kief
    @El Dato

    The big advantage of Gerd Gigerenzer's books is they are so readable - which might be their biggest disadvantage too because then people think: Well, he just says what I thought anyway...

    Replies: @res

    , @Bardon Kaldian
    @El Dato

    This is as bullshit as Wolfram's New Kind of Science.

    https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51-2QGFFlpL._SX406_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

    As some guy said: This is BS. I knew him when he was Tungsten.

    https://www.catster.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/laughing-cat-shutterstock_364320_1.jpg

    Kahneman is, basically, a junk scientist with some interesting insights.

    Replies: @Chrisnonymous, @Paperback Writer, @El Dato

  10. Sounds more like tribalism is the reason for the book’s popularity.

    • Replies: @Paperback Writer
    @Patrick Sullivan

    You mean, he's a Jew so people fall for it?

    He's a Jew, so it's well-reviewed?

    This is a perfect example of UnzSailerCommentCrap.

    I doubt you even read a review of the book.

  11. @Altai

    Or is Kahneman’s extremely nerdish way of thinking part of the appeal?
     
    It's part of the appeal because the book's popularity is likely not because it asks you to think for yourself but to give over through obscurantism to the end verdict of the guru who wrote it. Middle manager types love this and other books by like it because the less you understand it, the more you're convinced by the end verdict and that it must be right because you didn't quite follow how it got to the conclusion.

    It's only so fitting that an economist wrote it since the field since the Chicago school has been to invent a world only these gurus can guide you through.

    A bit like how one of Bitcoin's biggest strengths is the absence of it's creator, giving it an aura of a thing that was discovered rather than created or which has current developers. Contrast with Ethereum whose autistic creator is very much front and centre and much of the mystique (And market cap) escapes despite apparently being better at functioning as an actual cryptocurrency (Theoretically what gives Bitcoin any value) than Bitcoin.

    Replies: @Dieter Kief, @Oscar Peterson, @Kratoklastes

    It’s part of the appeal because the book’s popularity is likely not because it asks you to think for yourself but to give over through obscurantism to the end verdict of the guru who wrote it. Middle manager types love this

    I just helped somebody out a bit with an exam paper in drama school and what did come up in the introductory section: The whole ghost parade of (supposedly) super-checkers (including Kahnemann and Tversky with three books and David Eagleman, and … Malcolm Gladwell…) – and to no other end than to – (supposedly) impress and shine.
    Its a cult.

    • Replies: @Altai
    @Dieter Kief

    Curiously only the gurus pushing the economic policies which seem to only be good for disintegrating society, the state and social solidarity along with lowering the wages of the working class ever seem to show up on the shelves at airport bookshops.

    The great man of their utopia is Simon Amstell.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sf_1jw1AVsE

    Replies: @Lurker

    , @Altai
    @Dieter Kief

    Curiously only the gurus pushing the economic policies which seem to only be good for disintegrating society, the state and social solidarity along with lowering the wages of the working class ever seem to show up on the shelves at airport bookshops.

    The great man of their utopia is Simon Amstell.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sf_1jw1AVsE

  12. @El Dato
    How about this one? It's a bit more scholarly:

    https://www.amazon.com/Heuristics-Biases-Psychology-Intuitive-Judgment/dp/0521796792

    I just noticed that it is edited by Kahnemann, too.

    Or this, which is another of the thing books category. I always find these immensely boring as there is not enough synthesis ... yes I know you have to be computationally fast and hope it works out from time to time and you can be computationally more precise and have a better chance at being right from time to time. Maybe. If your refined algorithm applies, is correct and completely ass-backwards.

    https://www.amazon.com/Probably-Approximately-Correct-Algorithms-Prospering/dp/0465060722/

    Or anything by Gigerenzer:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rKld61XEckw

    Replies: @Dieter Kief, @Bardon Kaldian

    The big advantage of Gerd Gigerenzer’s books is they are so readable – which might be their biggest disadvantage too because then people think: Well, he just says what I thought anyway…

    • Replies: @res
    @Dieter Kief

    They are definitely readable, but not sure I agree with the rest of your description. I had that feeling as well because he did an exceptional job of laying out some techniques I like and use even more after reading him (especially for explaining things to other people!). But do less numerical people have the same experience? I would expect people whose eyes glaze over at statistics to get a lot out of his books.

    As an example, one point Gigerenzer emphasizes is the utility of turning probabilities into frequencies. So for a diagnostic test, rather than droning on about false positives and false negatives, etc. you just turn it into something like: If 1,000 people take this test we expect 10 to actually have the condition and test positive (1% prevalence) and 20 (2% false positive rate, roughly, rounding to an integer) test positive but do not have the condition. Therefore one should not panic or take extreme action based on that single test result.


    Or is Kahneman’s extremely nerdish way of thinking part of the appeal? Do nerds love reading about how the super-nerd tricks the normies into revealing how stupid they are?
     
    I think the appeal is partly the super-nerd tricks (look, I'm not stupid like those normies) but also the simplicity of the message and how well it fits as a simple heuristic for helping one feel like they really understand things. My sense was Kahneman’s work is less actionable than Gigerenzer's.
  13. From SS 2012 reviews: “As con men, conjurors, and comedians demonstrated long before Kahneman, most people trust in the speaker’s good faith. They play along and try to guess what is being implied. So it’s easy to pull the rug out from under us.”

  14. @El Dato
    How about this one? It's a bit more scholarly:

    https://www.amazon.com/Heuristics-Biases-Psychology-Intuitive-Judgment/dp/0521796792

    I just noticed that it is edited by Kahnemann, too.

    Or this, which is another of the thing books category. I always find these immensely boring as there is not enough synthesis ... yes I know you have to be computationally fast and hope it works out from time to time and you can be computationally more precise and have a better chance at being right from time to time. Maybe. If your refined algorithm applies, is correct and completely ass-backwards.

    https://www.amazon.com/Probably-Approximately-Correct-Algorithms-Prospering/dp/0465060722/

    Or anything by Gigerenzer:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rKld61XEckw

    Replies: @Dieter Kief, @Bardon Kaldian

    This is as bullshit as Wolfram’s New Kind of Science.

    As some guy said: This is BS. I knew him when he was Tungsten.

    Kahneman is, basically, a junk scientist with some interesting insights.

    • Replies: @Chrisnonymous
    @Bardon Kaldian

    When dealing with people like Wolfram on the ground of their own field, I think it most likely we don't understand them. I read A New Kind of Science and didn't really get it, but I suspect that's my fault, not Wolfram's.

    Replies: @Bardon Kaldian

    , @Paperback Writer
    @Bardon Kaldian

    Maybe you should tell the Nobel Committee of your findings.

    Replies: @Bardon Kaldian, @Stebbing Heuer

    , @El Dato
    @Bardon Kaldian



    This is as bullshit as Wolfram’s New Kind of Science.

     

    It depends on what the meaning of the word "This" is.

    Meanwhile:

    Power Asians doing the math stuff

    The Coach Who Led the U.S. Math Team Back to the Top

    Po-Shen Loh has harnessed his competitive impulses and iconoclastic tendencies to reinvigorate the U.S. Math Olympiad program.

    When you first coached the winning team, all the participants were male and you acknowledged the gender gap. Your winning team from 2019 was also all male. What could you be doing to achieve better gender balance?

    You need to make sure there are enough people who are trying to pick up these very unusual skills that are in the math Olympiads. When I think about the issues of diversity, I think about what is involved in getting people interested. So when I give a talk, I can tell who feels comfortable and who doesn’t feel comfortable. And actually one of my goals is to go and try to help the people who look like they don’t think they belong and to help them feel like they can.
     
    That's an excellent way of saying "I'll see what I can do".
  15. This book was huge and considered a must read for Rationality circles. Years later, the Replication Crisis kicked off found some or most of the studies cited had no predictive power. The ultimate irony of course is that the book is about over confidence and bias.

    • Agree: Forbes
    • Thanks: JimDandy
    • LOL: Intensifier
  16. @Dieter Kief
    @Altai


    It’s part of the appeal because the book’s popularity is likely not because it asks you to think for yourself but to give over through obscurantism to the end verdict of the guru who wrote it. Middle manager types love this
     
    I just helped somebody out a bit with an exam paper in drama school and what did come up in the introductory section: The whole ghost parade of (supposedly) super-checkers (including Kahnemann and Tversky with three books and David Eagleman, and ... Malcolm Gladwell...) - and to no other end than to - (supposedly) impress and shine.
    Its a cult.

    Replies: @Altai, @Altai

    Curiously only the gurus pushing the economic policies which seem to only be good for disintegrating society, the state and social solidarity along with lowering the wages of the working class ever seem to show up on the shelves at airport bookshops.

    The great man of their utopia is Simon Amstell.

    • Agree: utu
    • Replies: @Lurker
    @Altai

    Jewish and gay!

  17. @Dieter Kief
    @Altai


    It’s part of the appeal because the book’s popularity is likely not because it asks you to think for yourself but to give over through obscurantism to the end verdict of the guru who wrote it. Middle manager types love this
     
    I just helped somebody out a bit with an exam paper in drama school and what did come up in the introductory section: The whole ghost parade of (supposedly) super-checkers (including Kahnemann and Tversky with three books and David Eagleman, and ... Malcolm Gladwell...) - and to no other end than to - (supposedly) impress and shine.
    Its a cult.

    Replies: @Altai, @Altai

    Curiously only the gurus pushing the economic policies which seem to only be good for disintegrating society, the state and social solidarity along with lowering the wages of the working class ever seem to show up on the shelves at airport bookshops.

    The great man of their utopia is Simon Amstell.

  18. Why is Steve skeptical, I mean in what sense is he skeptical, about iq tests? I thought he believed in iq science. Please explain a bit.

    In the question on the iq sample, technically you wouldn’t expect the sample mean to be 101; in all probability it would not end up being that, but some number along a bell curve centered at 101.

    • Replies: @vhrm
    @Happy Tapir

    He's not really. In this post for some reason Steve is being somewhat anti-math and anti-model and saying that it's not a huge deal that our intuition's probabilistic thinking is inaccurate or biased because I'm long term valuable issues we (or someone) actually sits down and does the math.

    i.e. that if you encounter something unlikely in real life that it's good or normal to be skeptical of it and presumably doubt/double check things.

    So that IF that first kid really did test at iq 150 maybe something was wrong with the test like it was scored wrong or the original characterization was wrong or something else.

    (at least that's what I think he's saying)

    Replies: @Happy Tapir

  19. Real world examples would be great

    The median lifespan of a nursing home resident is 8 months
    The average lifespan of a nursing home resident is 14 months

    Your grandmother is admitted to a nursing home with 100 other residents in March
    She is still alive at Christmas , how many of the other 100 residents are still living ?

    • Replies: @Jonathan Mason
    @Travis

    Medicare or Medicaid?

    , @Stan Adams
    @Travis

    My 90-year-old grandmother is going on four years now in a nursing home. It’s incredibly expensive.

  20. A shortstop with 150 RBIs is about as plausible as a randomly chosen child with a 150 I.Q.

    They trouble is that if you take the first 50 children born in a particular year in a particular city where the children have an overall average IQ of 100 over a period of several years, which has remained stable, there will be numbers available to see how extremely high IQs of 150 or over are balanced out against children who are born brain damaged or severely subnormal.

    But in being asked to solve that problem, we have insufficient information.

    Is a baseball player with 50 RBIs about as common as a child being born with brain damage? And is 100 RBIs a number normed to a population average?

    However point taken about the need to distract from Tejada’s terrific numbers.

    Raquel Tejada (later known as Raquel Welch), on the other hand, use her outstanding statistics to distract the public from noticing how poor was a very mediocre film.

    I don’t know too much about baseball, but soccer is a game in which fast decision-making is key to creating or preventing scoring opportunities.

    However top players are also drilled intensively in executing certain set maneuvers, so that the decision-making becomes intuitive in the same way that the positioning of a pianist’s fingers on the keyboard become automatic, and a pianist is not having to think about placing their middle finger on the C note.

    Thus the winning move is often the one that is unpredictable, and the unpredictable move may be produced either by a player who is a “creative genius”, or by a manager (coach) who creates a solution to a particular situation, and then drills the players to execute it efficiently.

    Thus a brilliant goal could be conceived either by detailed planning, or by a moment of inspiration.

    I will always remember a hilarious 1960s newspaper column by journalist Michael Parkinson in which he commented on the trend for higher and higher transfer fees being paid for tall strong center forwards (like Cristiano Ronaldo) and said that he expected the trend to be to pay even more for even bigger and stronger defenders, and then even higher for tiny maneuverable attackers (like Lionel Messi) who would run rings around the big clumsy defenders.

    And so goes the tactical nuclear arms race in every sport as every move made by an opponent and every goal scored is now recorded and analyzed on video by every stakeholder.

    • Replies: @Jonathan Mason
    @Jonathan Mason

    As a footnote to the above, my guess would be that in any population the number of children born severely retarded is greater than the number of children with 150 plus IQs, and that if you removed everybody who had been classified as mentally retarded or special needs, then the remaining IQ would be considerably above 100, which suggests that the magic figure of 100 is actually rather irrelevant, and that a person with an IQ of 100 should be considered to be a bit dull rather than normal.

    Replies: @utu

  21. After all, the United States military severely screwed up the scoring of their I.Q.-like AFQT enlistment test from 1976 to 1980. Senator Sam Nunn kept asking the Pentagon why sergeants were complaining to him that the military was suddenly letting in some real dumb-asses.

    Post-Vietnam, after the draft was eliminated, they were desperate to get more warm bodies willing to volunteer. This wasn’t entirely the mistake it was made out to be.

  22. @Jonathan Mason

    A shortstop with 150 RBIs is about as plausible as a randomly chosen child with a 150 I.Q.
     
    They trouble is that if you take the first 50 children born in a particular year in a particular city where the children have an overall average IQ of 100 over a period of several years, which has remained stable, there will be numbers available to see how extremely high IQs of 150 or over are balanced out against children who are born brain damaged or severely subnormal.

    But in being asked to solve that problem, we have insufficient information.

    Is a baseball player with 50 RBIs about as common as a child being born with brain damage? And is 100 RBIs a number normed to a population average?

    However point taken about the need to distract from Tejada's terrific numbers.

    Raquel Tejada (later known as Raquel Welch), on the other hand, use her outstanding statistics to distract the public from noticing how poor was a very mediocre film.

    I don't know too much about baseball, but soccer is a game in which fast decision-making is key to creating or preventing scoring opportunities.

    However top players are also drilled intensively in executing certain set maneuvers, so that the decision-making becomes intuitive in the same way that the positioning of a pianist's fingers on the keyboard become automatic, and a pianist is not having to think about placing their middle finger on the C note.

    Thus the winning move is often the one that is unpredictable, and the unpredictable move may be produced either by a player who is a "creative genius", or by a manager (coach) who creates a solution to a particular situation, and then drills the players to execute it efficiently.

    Thus a brilliant goal could be conceived either by detailed planning, or by a moment of inspiration.

    I will always remember a hilarious 1960s newspaper column by journalist Michael Parkinson in which he commented on the trend for higher and higher transfer fees being paid for tall strong center forwards (like Cristiano Ronaldo) and said that he expected the trend to be to pay even more for even bigger and stronger defenders, and then even higher for tiny maneuverable attackers (like Lionel Messi) who would run rings around the big clumsy defenders.

    And so goes the tactical nuclear arms race in every sport as every move made by an opponent and every goal scored is now recorded and analyzed on video by every stakeholder.

    Replies: @Jonathan Mason

    As a footnote to the above, my guess would be that in any population the number of children born severely retarded is greater than the number of children with 150 plus IQs, and that if you removed everybody who had been classified as mentally retarded or special needs, then the remaining IQ would be considerably above 100, which suggests that the magic figure of 100 is actually rather irrelevant, and that a person with an IQ of 100 should be considered to be a bit dull rather than normal.

    • Replies: @utu
    @Jonathan Mason

    The problem:


    The mean I.Q. of the population of eighth-graders in a city is known to be 100. You have selected a random sample of 50 children for a study of educational achievement. The first child tested has an I.Q. of 150. What do you expect the mean I.Q. to be for the whole sample?
     
    is not about IQ. It is about drawing random sample of numbers (N=50) out of the population (M>N) of numbers (M can be infinite) that have a mean of 100. If there is no knowledge about the pdf and how large M is compared to N then the expected value (best estimate) of the arithmetic average of the sample N is 100 regardless of what is the first number value. If SD of the population is known and pdf is Gaussian then 95% confidence bound on the answer could be expressed as ±2SD/sqrt(50). For SD=15 the answer is 100 ± 4.2.

    If we agree (???) that if N=50 is a random sample also the N-1=49 is a random sample then we could get the following: The N-1=49 are drawn from population M-1 that has mean (100*M-150)/(M-1). This is also the best estimate of the arithmetic average of the N-1=49 sample. So the N=50 sample's best estimate of its arithmetic mean is [49*(100*M-150)/(M-1)+150)/50 that is approximately 101 for large M (M>>50).

    Replies: @Jonathan Mason

  23. Smart men are more likely to be into abstract systems and love generating ideas. A subset get into philosophy and “thinking about thinking”.

    Most of it is a waste of time. Almost all philosophy is a waste of time. Maybe that’s the reason modern science finally starting making so much progress: it put endless “really smart” discussions aside and focused on demonstration, experiment, measurement, etc. That is, a lot hard, tedious work that’s more like accounting than glorious thought experiments that make a fella get the awesome feels.

    • Replies: @Muggles
    @RichardTaylor


    Almost all philosophy is a waste of time. Maybe that’s the reason modern science finally starting making so much progress: it put endless “really smart” discussions aside and focused on demonstration, experiment, measurement, etc. That is, a lot hard, tedious work that’s more like accounting than glorious thought experiments that make a fella get the awesome feels.
     
    Yes, this is basically true. Except when philosophy becomes entangled with observations.

    I.e. - let's look at large and small. When experimenters deconstruct matter/energy it becomes very philosophical. Photons act like particles and waves. Hmm... Pretty philosophical. What happens when and if you blast the smallest bits of 'matter' into other small bits. Yes, tiny stuff flashes out to detectors, or doesn't. And at the very smallest levels you have 'quantum effects.'

    Stuff can be two places at the same 'time.' Huh? And if you drill down far enough, it will move on you. So you can't really 'see' it. Pretty philosophical, no?

    As for large, there is the odd 'scientific fact' that everything known to be 'far away' is also very old, due to the apparent limit to the speed of light. So nothing far way (and very big) can ever be visited, since it is now so old and we can never travel fast enough to see what's there now. Hmmm..

    Also, 'space' is supposedly expanding faster than the speed of light itself. So far away stuff isn't even "there" where it was, and we can never visit it (under current science doctrines) because it keeps moving farther even faster than light. So even if we could travel at light speed, it would still be too far to "catch."

    To conclude: So small, that actually trying to "see" it moves it away. No longer there. So big, so old and far away we can never know much more than we do now. Too far away, and getting farther, unless we can travel multiple times the speed of light.

    All of these pretty philosophical notions define nature's largest and smallest. To overcome current 'scientific' limits on large-and-small, mankind will have to embrace new thinking about science, if at all possible. So are we all doomed to study with our beakers and rulers just quite big, quite small? Maybe Einstein's travelling train passengers seem more like philosophy than you think.

    Replies: @Stebbing Heuer

    , @Oscar Peterson
    @RichardTaylor


    Almost all philosophy is a waste of time.
     
    Yeah, I guess this is how we end up with positivism and analytic philosophy. Though there is still philosophy that examines human interactions, e.g., political philosophy. At some point, it fades into psychology and then, I suppose, brain science, though "the mind" is still evidently a mystery.

    Everything else is either done better by experimentation and empirical observation or much more satisfying when approached via religion.
  24. anon[282] • Disclaimer says:

    But, seriously, would there be a market for a less Aspergery book that starts with real-world mistakes that people commonly make?

    It’s Aspergery as hell to think there is a need for a book about mistakes that is less nerdy than the one that has already proven popular with nerds. We all know how much regular people enjoy reading about brain function.

    I’m looking forward to the Sailer version of this book that will be totally air-tight to nerdy criticism!

  25. @Travis
    Real world examples would be great

    The median lifespan of a nursing home resident is 8 months
    The average lifespan of a nursing home resident is 14 months

    Your grandmother is admitted to a nursing home with 100 other residents in March
    She is still alive at Christmas , how many of the other 100 residents are still living ?

    Replies: @Jonathan Mason, @Stan Adams

    Medicare or Medicaid?

  26. Years ago, I used to read “Ask Marilyn” in the Sunday Parade section. Marilyn vos Savant (her real name!) was great with logic puzzles, poor with philosophy, and embarrassing with physics.

    Once asked why cars had lower fuel efficiency at high speeds she bolstered about factors like carburation when the obvious and simplest explanation is that even a streamlined car displaces more air at higher air speed than a slow car. Since energy goes as the square of velocity, fast moving cars simply transfer much more energy to their environment.

    Back to Kahneman. The big idea is that the quick intuitive heuristics work most of the time, except when they don’t. You can make plausible inferences about when people will rely on intuition and identify scenarios where they won’t work. Experiments, though contrived, are the coin of science. Critiquing the experiment, “threats to validity” is a job that science could often do better, but fortunately we have luminaries like Bill James, Michael Lewis, and Steve Sailer to point out the deficiencies that escape the scientist crippled with tunnel vision.

    The application to baseball seems obvious at many levels. The game requires instant reaction, but leaves copious time to assess the likely scenarios. The cat and mouse game between pitcher and batter enacts the batter’s need to react instantly against the pitcher’s desire to baffle him. Observing the game takes on a new meaning once you realize the batter can “Know” a change up is coming and still be unable to hit it because of a proper set up. The folk psychology can be first rate.

    Throwing to the right base is another example. Rocky Nelson decision to touch first rather than tag Mantle or throw to 2nd in the top of the ninth of game 7 (1960) allowed Mantle to evade a tag and return. He failed the “what do I do if the ball is hit right at me” test and missed the double play that would have prevented the game tying hit that forced a bottom of the 9th. Maz will be eternally grateful, Hal Smith, not so much.

  27. @Jonathan Mason
    @Jonathan Mason

    As a footnote to the above, my guess would be that in any population the number of children born severely retarded is greater than the number of children with 150 plus IQs, and that if you removed everybody who had been classified as mentally retarded or special needs, then the remaining IQ would be considerably above 100, which suggests that the magic figure of 100 is actually rather irrelevant, and that a person with an IQ of 100 should be considered to be a bit dull rather than normal.

    Replies: @utu

    The problem:

    The mean I.Q. of the population of eighth-graders in a city is known to be 100. You have selected a random sample of 50 children for a study of educational achievement. The first child tested has an I.Q. of 150. What do you expect the mean I.Q. to be for the whole sample?

    is not about IQ. It is about drawing random sample of numbers (N=50) out of the population (M>N) of numbers (M can be infinite) that have a mean of 100. If there is no knowledge about the pdf and how large M is compared to N then the expected value (best estimate) of the arithmetic average of the sample N is 100 regardless of what is the first number value. If SD of the population is known and pdf is Gaussian then 95% confidence bound on the answer could be expressed as ±2SD/sqrt(50). For SD=15 the answer is 100 ± 4.2.

    If we agree (???) that if N=50 is a random sample also the N-1=49 is a random sample then we could get the following: The N-1=49 are drawn from population M-1 that has mean (100*M-150)/(M-1). This is also the best estimate of the arithmetic average of the N-1=49 sample. So the N=50 sample’s best estimate of its arithmetic mean is [49*(100*M-150)/(M-1)+150)/50 that is approximately 101 for large M (M>>50).

    • Replies: @Jonathan Mason
    @utu

    Yes from a purely mathematical point of view you are correct, but purely mathematical points of view are only a limited value in the real world.

    For example if you are designing a system of education to benefit the most children, if you just provide one kind of education that is suitable for children with an IQ of 100, then you will not developed the full potential of smarter children, and you will provide the dimmer children with an education that is of no value to them as they can only fail.

    So you have to know how many smarty pants there are, and how many brain damaged kids there are with fetal alcohol syndrome, so that you need to know how many places to have in a calculus class, and how many developmental psychologists to hire.

    If you're looking at purely average numbers, then of course you can derive a theoretical average and assign a degree of probability to it. but it still won't tell you the really interesting thing that you want to know, which is how the 150 IQ kids and the 50 IQ kids balance out each other.

    Designing an education system for only 50 kids is very difficult. My two youngest sisters attended a village elementary school for children aged 5 to 11, and they were just two classes divided by a sliding partition and two teachers including the head. There were about 50 kids in the school, but of course it varied year by year.

    If one teacher was sick then the other teacher would have to merge both classes.

    Statistics would not have been a great deal of help to the head teacher, but nevertheless several of the children in that class went on to university and higher professions.

    So I doubt if the ability to solve problems of these kinds is going to be all that useful in producing a winning baseball team, which is the only metric that counts.

    What you need in general are pitchers whose pitches are difficult to predict and control, and batters who are able to control their ball-striking to the extent that they can evade the fielders or clear defenses in a particular direction.

    Then you're going to need detailed planning, for example the top-class pitcher needs to have a plan for each batter and know his weaknesses and strengths. And of course the batter will have studied the pitcher, so it is all a bit of a heads-up poker game of bluff and double bluff.

  28. So… the front offices have come up with some new low-brow Yogi Bear (sic)-style cheat and need a fresh fig leaf to convince all those business class-riding/airport book-reading/season ticket-buying upper middle class BBQ dads that their formula for success is really high-brow and respectable? Steve mentions steroids, but didn’t we just go through a whole snowjob cycle of dozens of fawning articles on how super smart (and brave!) the Astros front office was, how even the guy whose job it is to restock paper and bottled water was so talented (and brave!) he could never get hired at McKinsey- he’s too overqualified!- and yet it all came down to sign-stealing and something as ridiculous as a guy in a dress shirt sitting right outside the dugout, beating out catcher’s signs on a trashcan with a stick?

    • Replies: @Forbes
    @Abe

    Basically.

    1. BillyBall, i.e. Moneyball (e.g., walks as good as a hit, slugging average better than batting average) was introduced by Oakland A's GM Billy Beane, copied by most.
    2. The Saberstats got done to death.
    3. Then the computer graphics tracking for balls in play resulting in defensive shifts...
    4. New gimmick...Thinking Fast and Slow...

    Baseball, as a game of strategy, has always contained lots of conventional wisdom and common sense, i.e. baseball wisdom, or the inside game. "Finding an edge" has been the modern game's way of engagement--therefore, plain old cheating (Astros sign stealing) is often the edge..

  29. @anon
    Steve...you are just too damn Bayesian.

    People are natural Bayesians. But even really smart people find the logic of null hypothesis significance tests virtually unintelligible, or nonsense.

    As far as practical examples, you have your cognitive bias examples. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cognitive_biases

    I would say that avoiding confirmation bias can be profitable in the stock market.

    Come to think of it, that was the the entire point of Moneyball.

    And then there are stereotype bias. Except they test out as true and useful.

    I bought the book, but couldn't get through it. I think it rubs Bayesians the wrong way. Michael Lewis is annoying, also.

    Replies: @utu, @Hypnotoad666

    Too many people are suffering from the Bayesian woo. Just a buzzword for Yudkowsky crowd.

    • Replies: @very old statistician
    @utu

    Among the good things I learned in 2020, I learned that a few people I thought were one in a million intelligent were nowhere near that, they were just people who had read a lot of books and who regurgitated some really smart stuff.

    That being said, I never thought of poor Yudkowsky as being intelligent ---- the poor little fellow has always been one of those obvious auto-didacts who, in long evening hours under the scholarly lamp in the library, read a little too much on one subject ---- in poor Yudkowsky's case, the set of recreational logical puzzles that he calls Bayesianism ---- and like that friend of the poor anvil salesman in the Music Man, who did not know the territory (Henry Hill, for those of you who do not understand the USA) ---- he thought --- here, here is the scam I am gonna be able to run for all it is worth until my dying day.

    I do not keep up with Yudkowsky, but there are a few people who are self-styled "probabalists" or "logicians" who blocked me after I asked them why they had been so so wrong about the uselessness and harms of masks and the comparative success of Sweden and Florida. OF COURSE if the evildoers who are behind the current epidemic events want to reduce the human population by half or more, the foolish "probabalists" and "logicians" will come out looking pretty smart, because they were SO SO WORRIED------ but that will just be the chance allocation between the fact that, yes there are powers out there who want children to be masked all day so that half or more of them suffer greatly from headaches and other ills that people who are forced by evildoers to wear masks suffer from (all to protect old people with three comorbidities from dying a couple of short years earlier than they would otherwise --- at best) .... and the fact that here and now, tonight, I am saying that the "probabalists" and "logicians" who, a year or so ago, when I read their twitter feed every day because it was interesting, were never one in a million. One in a hundred at best. And one in a hundred is pretty bad.

    Replies: @vhrm

  30. @Bardon Kaldian
    @El Dato

    This is as bullshit as Wolfram's New Kind of Science.

    https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51-2QGFFlpL._SX406_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

    As some guy said: This is BS. I knew him when he was Tungsten.

    https://www.catster.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/laughing-cat-shutterstock_364320_1.jpg

    Kahneman is, basically, a junk scientist with some interesting insights.

    Replies: @Chrisnonymous, @Paperback Writer, @El Dato

    When dealing with people like Wolfram on the ground of their own field, I think it most likely we don’t understand them. I read A New Kind of Science and didn’t really get it, but I suspect that’s my fault, not Wolfram’s.

    • Replies: @Bardon Kaldian
    @Chrisnonymous

    No, this is not his own field. He is brilliant in what really is his own field (cellular automata & similar stuff), but the entire simulation mythology is a myth. It is a paradigm, a sort of diluted Plato's myth of the cave (simulation paradigm is basically a form of Platonism for dummies) combined with the approach that is, roughly: simulation is explanation, or models are not just the substitute for reality; they are the reality.

    Wolfram's position is that of a man who could be called Hegel in the reverse. Hegel's musings on the nature of mathematics caused Gauss to mutter something not very flattering about Hegel's mental health; I guess he could have said, along with Pauli on other matters, that this was not even wrong. Wolfram went the other way & has started with physics & mathematics, ending in a mathematized philosophy. That could be interesting- whether one agrees with strong computational approach or not - if it has given results, testable predictions or at least a complete description of numerous already explained or "traditionally described" phenomena.

    As yet, nothing new in "explanation" of physical world came out of it. It is sterility which sinks Wolfram's approach more than anything else. Its chief weakness is not that it is limited (and it is); that it is arbitrary in its computationalism (and it is); that it is, basically, old wine in new bottles (Zuse & other fellows- but, there is nothing wrong in using old stuff to create something new, even via interpretation). His position is that of a subjectivist who has vastly expanded his area of expertise to epistemology, physics, whatnot ...- without explanatory & predictive power.

  31. I have never understood Steve’s issue with Kahneman. His ideas seem sound and reasonable to me.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    @Chrisnonymous

    Steve is practical and entirely non-academic. Kahneman is entirely academic and cannot care less about practicality of his own output. It's all pseudo-profound bullshit with Kahneman: Making the claim that people are easily fooled to sound new and interesting despite the idea been universally accepted based by just about everyone based on daily life experiences.

  32. I used to be quite skeptical myself of the importance of the results described in Thinking Fast and Thinking Slow. But I’ve become very much persuaded that they are indeed quite basic and of great consequence.

    The point isn’t whether Kahneman is “tricking” us into coming to the wrong conclusion in cases like Linda the bank teller. It is that we seem to have an extraordinary and powerful attraction to thinking in terms of representativeness rather than of pure logic. In this sense, Kahneman’s results might be understood as demonstrating just how easy it is for people to be tricked in this particular way — how much more inclined we are on average to leap to the intuitive, but wrong, conclusion rather than the logical one. Much of his work involved finding just how far this could be pushed before we finally succumb to logic — just how explicitly the correct logical inference had to be featured before most people would concede that the logical conclusion was the right one. Some of his more extreme examples make this clear.

    And it’s not trivial in cases like decisions in sports. Certainly it was initially very hard for many managers in baseball to think in terms of the actual statistical results rather than prototypes.

    • Thanks: vhrm
    • Replies: @Bill P
    @candid_observer


    The point isn’t whether Kahneman is “tricking” us into coming to the wrong conclusion in cases like Linda the bank teller. It is that we seem to have an extraordinary and powerful attraction to thinking in terms of representativeness rather than of pure logic. In this sense, Kahneman’s results might be understood as demonstrating just how easy it is for people to be tricked in this particular way — how much more inclined we are on average to leap to the intuitive, but wrong, conclusion rather than the logical one.
     
    There's a good reason for that. Reasoning is slow, inefficient and often clumsy. If you're playing a sport and your opponent has to stop to think about something, nine times out of ten you've got him beat. The same applies in many intellectual tasks such as law. The lawyer who knows stuff will usually beat the one who has to figure it out even if their IQ is comparable.

    What Kahneman is writing about is the distinction between reasoning and learned response. Ideally, in a competitive environment reasoning should be one's last resort. Athletes are often told not to "overthink" and to use "muscle memory." Sounds dumb, but it's good advice (even though "muscle memory" is a misleading term). In fact, the main benefit of reasoning is to prevent the reasoner from having to use reason for the same task the next time. It is something one uses in novel situations.

    So what Kahneman is doing to trick people is dressing up novel situations as routine ones. Novel situations occur in day-to-day life, but not in the contexts Kahneman presents. For most people, novel situations are mainly social. Abstract reasoning tasks involving numbers or formal logic rarely present themselves. However, reasoning about other people's behavior and thoughts occupies enormous bandwidth.

    This is why nerds like Kahneman's book: it makes them feel good about themselves by leaving out the majority of reasoning while emphasizing the kind they happen to be relatively good at. I'd go so far as to say that Kahneman is pulling a fast one on the nerds. He's disguising one of their shortcomings as a superior trait to flatter them and get them to buy his book. Pretty clever.

    Say we presented a bunch of quant types with Jane Austen-like social quandaries. Most of them would be confused. If forced to face these in real life, many would feel great distress, and probably show it physiologically. It would make a funny skit.

    Kahneman isn't coming up with anything new at all here. His distinction between "fast" and "slow" thinking is facile and doesn't explain the real difference between the two. Even worse, it muddies the waters.

    Replies: @vhrm, @Reg Cæsar, @Known Fact, @Chrisnonymous, @wren, @El Dato

    , @Forbes
    @candid_observer


    It is that we seem to have an extraordinary and powerful attraction to thinking in terms of representativeness rather than of pure logic.
     
    We're culturally/socially conditioned to stories, not facts. The so-called error in Linda the Teller scenario is that people "fill in the blanks" in the story/query in ways they are used to seeing. As you say...

    how much more inclined we are on average to leap to the intuitive, but wrong, conclusion rather than the logical one.
     
    Homo economicus (rational man) is the great assumption error of classical economics and Kahneman's psychology-infused behavioral economics. I think it's a safe bet to say that some men are capable of reasoned logic, but most are social-emotional animals reacting on instinct, intuition, feelings, and personal preferences of-the-moment--not reasoning. Rationalizations (post-hoc) are what most people think of as reasoned decision-making.
  33. Anon[369] • Disclaimer says:
    @Bardon Kaldian
    This is the appeal of obscurantism.

    There is not just bullshit art; there is bullshit science, too.

    Replies: @Anon

    How much of psychology is bullshit? Here’s an interesting article from 2014.

    The British amateur who debunked the mathematics of happiness

    The astonishing story of Nick Brown, the British man who began a part-time psychology course in his 50s – and ended up taking on America’s academic establishment

    https://www.theguardian.com/science/2014/jan/19/mathematics-of-happiness-debunked-nick-brown

    One of the debunkers along with Brown was none other than Alan Sokal.
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Sokal
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sokal_affair

    • Replies: @Bardon Kaldian
    @Anon

    Most of psychology as a science is bullshit. It is understandable that many psychologists want to quantify their field of work, thus gaining "scientific respectability"; yet, in most psych areas Aristotle devastating comment on Pythagoreans remains valid: Virtue is not a number.

  34. designed to fool you into giving the wrong answer, such as the famous “Linda is a bank teller” one where Tversky and Kahneman fool the public by severely violating the Chekhov’s Gun principle of good storytelling.

    If it’s the
    A) Linda is a bank Teller
    B)Linda is a bank teller and actively involved in femininity organizations

    A is, by the middle school rules we all learned when doing multiple-choice tests written by not overly smart teachers, most people, answered as if it were “Linda is a bank teller and not involved in feminism.” With just those two options presented, we are taking as a given that she is a bank teller, and she sounded like she would be a feminist from the story, so…

    Take this story

    “John is a single, thirty year old introvert. He is not comfortable with women, and prefers ‘objective’ numbers to dealing with people and the inherent messiness. He has a freezer full of human heads.

    Is John

    A) An Accountant
    B) An Accountsnt and a serial killer”

    Well, the reason one might be concerned with John is that he is definately a serial killer, so the answer that includes that very important conclusion is not the one we should focus on. Not to mention, if there were an option c, serial killer, I think one would be wise in both picking c, and avoiding John.

    • Replies: @Rob
    @Rob


    actively involved in femininity organizations
     
    Feminist organizations. Stoopid autocorrect.
    , @Jonathan Mason
    @Rob

    John might be an anatomist or pathologist or stem cell scientist. The human heads might be those of aborted fetuses. He might be a grave robber, or a student mortician. We can't just jump to the conclusion that John is a serial killer.

    Replies: @Rob

  35. @utu
    @Jonathan Mason

    The problem:


    The mean I.Q. of the population of eighth-graders in a city is known to be 100. You have selected a random sample of 50 children for a study of educational achievement. The first child tested has an I.Q. of 150. What do you expect the mean I.Q. to be for the whole sample?
     
    is not about IQ. It is about drawing random sample of numbers (N=50) out of the population (M>N) of numbers (M can be infinite) that have a mean of 100. If there is no knowledge about the pdf and how large M is compared to N then the expected value (best estimate) of the arithmetic average of the sample N is 100 regardless of what is the first number value. If SD of the population is known and pdf is Gaussian then 95% confidence bound on the answer could be expressed as ±2SD/sqrt(50). For SD=15 the answer is 100 ± 4.2.

    If we agree (???) that if N=50 is a random sample also the N-1=49 is a random sample then we could get the following: The N-1=49 are drawn from population M-1 that has mean (100*M-150)/(M-1). This is also the best estimate of the arithmetic average of the N-1=49 sample. So the N=50 sample's best estimate of its arithmetic mean is [49*(100*M-150)/(M-1)+150)/50 that is approximately 101 for large M (M>>50).

    Replies: @Jonathan Mason

    Yes from a purely mathematical point of view you are correct, but purely mathematical points of view are only a limited value in the real world.

    For example if you are designing a system of education to benefit the most children, if you just provide one kind of education that is suitable for children with an IQ of 100, then you will not developed the full potential of smarter children, and you will provide the dimmer children with an education that is of no value to them as they can only fail.

    So you have to know how many smarty pants there are, and how many brain damaged kids there are with fetal alcohol syndrome, so that you need to know how many places to have in a calculus class, and how many developmental psychologists to hire.

    If you’re looking at purely average numbers, then of course you can derive a theoretical average and assign a degree of probability to it. but it still won’t tell you the really interesting thing that you want to know, which is how the 150 IQ kids and the 50 IQ kids balance out each other.

    Designing an education system for only 50 kids is very difficult. My two youngest sisters attended a village elementary school for children aged 5 to 11, and they were just two classes divided by a sliding partition and two teachers including the head. There were about 50 kids in the school, but of course it varied year by year.

    If one teacher was sick then the other teacher would have to merge both classes.

    Statistics would not have been a great deal of help to the head teacher, but nevertheless several of the children in that class went on to university and higher professions.

    So I doubt if the ability to solve problems of these kinds is going to be all that useful in producing a winning baseball team, which is the only metric that counts.

    What you need in general are pitchers whose pitches are difficult to predict and control, and batters who are able to control their ball-striking to the extent that they can evade the fielders or clear defenses in a particular direction.

    Then you’re going to need detailed planning, for example the top-class pitcher needs to have a plan for each batter and know his weaknesses and strengths. And of course the batter will have studied the pitcher, so it is all a bit of a heads-up poker game of bluff and double bluff.

  36. Real world example

    120 million Americans have recovered from Covid
    70 million American adults have been vaccinated
    80 million children have natural immunity to CV

    How many Americans are currently immune to Covid?

  37. would there be a market for a less Aspergery book that starts with real-world mistakes that people commonly make? Or is Kahneman’s extremely nerdish way of thinking part of the appeal?

    There are already tons of books like that: Innumeracy, The Invisible Gorilla, The Intelligence Trap, and really any of the hundreds of books on cognitive biases or “why people do stupid things” category.

    The key to getting lavish praise from the New York Times and its audience isn’t having interesting subject matter, nor is it being nerdy or spergish, which is such a ridiculous conclusion that I have to assume you’re being intentionally obtuse and boomerish to say it. The “secret” (which literally everybody knows) is to appeal to midwits: give lots of examples that the 105-110 IQ college-bound or college-educated crowd can use to ridicule other people, and steer very well clear of anything that would ever call their own status into question.

    The trait that exemplifies the moderately-intelligent college-educated sop is grade-grubbing: slavish obedience to authority peppered with elaborate intellectual justifications why the authority is good and right, with occasional flagrant brown-nosing or general status-signaling, always totally safe and non-controversial.

    Books that point out actual real-world mistakes and describe real cognitive biases will sell just fine and often get good reviews, but since they appeal more to the hoi polloi, you’ll rarely see them on a “best seller” list, which as you surely know by now, has little if anything to do with copies sold. Ivy League students and graduates don’t want to be reminded of the real world; they’ve structured their whole lives around escaping from it.

  38. THIS IS A TRICK QUESTION.

    Smart guys do not love Khanimen’s book. Khanimen and all academic psychologists love trick questions. If they have an easy question their psycho experiment subject will miss they love that. Also publishers love books that investors will buy that promise them insights to under priced assets and overlooked opportunities.

    It’s almost all b. s. The market already knows everything worth knowing. The only way to beat them is to have inside advance knowledge. Don’t buy Khanimen’s book. Buy congressmen if you can afford them like Soros does.

    • Replies: @Muggles
    @Morton's toes


    The market already knows everything worth knowing.
     
    That's funny. No economist would ever say that.

    In a two person market, it is a testable hypothesis. Otherwise no.

    Price discovery is a constant process in real markets which changes over time. Investors (and entrepreneurs and even ordinary workers) are constantly risking assets and their time to discover new information which they can use profitably. Humanity and nature are not stagnant things.

    In the old USSR they might assert "GOSPLAN knows everything worth knowing." Gosplan was the central economic planning group. Of course this was false.

    If your statement were correct all IPOs would start out at a single offering price and never change over time.
  39. @Patrick Sullivan
    Sounds more like tribalism is the reason for the book's popularity.

    Replies: @Paperback Writer

    You mean, he’s a Jew so people fall for it?

    He’s a Jew, so it’s well-reviewed?

    This is a perfect example of UnzSailerCommentCrap.

    I doubt you even read a review of the book.

  40. @Bardon Kaldian
    @El Dato

    This is as bullshit as Wolfram's New Kind of Science.

    https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51-2QGFFlpL._SX406_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

    As some guy said: This is BS. I knew him when he was Tungsten.

    https://www.catster.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/laughing-cat-shutterstock_364320_1.jpg

    Kahneman is, basically, a junk scientist with some interesting insights.

    Replies: @Chrisnonymous, @Paperback Writer, @El Dato

    Maybe you should tell the Nobel Committee of your findings.

    • Replies: @Bardon Kaldian
    @Paperback Writer

    Why? They are bulshitters par excellence - and know it better than others (I am talking about economics, peace & literature).

    , @Stebbing Heuer
    @Paperback Writer

    Gold. Pure gold.

  41. @anon
    Steve...you are just too damn Bayesian.

    People are natural Bayesians. But even really smart people find the logic of null hypothesis significance tests virtually unintelligible, or nonsense.

    As far as practical examples, you have your cognitive bias examples. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cognitive_biases

    I would say that avoiding confirmation bias can be profitable in the stock market.

    Come to think of it, that was the the entire point of Moneyball.

    And then there are stereotype bias. Except they test out as true and useful.

    I bought the book, but couldn't get through it. I think it rubs Bayesians the wrong way. Michael Lewis is annoying, also.

    Replies: @utu, @Hypnotoad666

    IIRC, a lot of Khaneman’s examples of supposedly systemically biased thinking haven’t survived the replication crisis very well.

    One of Khaneman’s problems was that he thought he could rely on meta-studies that aggregated the results of many small studies. But due to the prevalence of publication bias, p-hacking, etc., he just ended up aggregating the consistent bias of other researchers.

    That seems like an example of Steve’s exact criticism. He was too willing to accept an assumed premise — i.e., that the sample is random and unbiased.

    I think this is also one of the fair criticisms of economists generally. The discipline works by making assumptions that hold most variables constant in order to test a hypothesis. But after working with a certain assumed fact long enough, they sometimes forget that it eventually needs to be verified for the conclusions to hold.

  42. @Dieter Kief
    @El Dato

    The big advantage of Gerd Gigerenzer's books is they are so readable - which might be their biggest disadvantage too because then people think: Well, he just says what I thought anyway...

    Replies: @res

    They are definitely readable, but not sure I agree with the rest of your description. I had that feeling as well because he did an exceptional job of laying out some techniques I like and use even more after reading him (especially for explaining things to other people!). But do less numerical people have the same experience? I would expect people whose eyes glaze over at statistics to get a lot out of his books.

    As an example, one point Gigerenzer emphasizes is the utility of turning probabilities into frequencies. So for a diagnostic test, rather than droning on about false positives and false negatives, etc. you just turn it into something like: If 1,000 people take this test we expect 10 to actually have the condition and test positive (1% prevalence) and 20 (2% false positive rate, roughly, rounding to an integer) test positive but do not have the condition. Therefore one should not panic or take extreme action based on that single test result.

    Or is Kahneman’s extremely nerdish way of thinking part of the appeal? Do nerds love reading about how the super-nerd tricks the normies into revealing how stupid they are?

    I think the appeal is partly the super-nerd tricks (look, I’m not stupid like those normies) but also the simplicity of the message and how well it fits as a simple heuristic for helping one feel like they really understand things. My sense was Kahneman’s work is less actionable than Gigerenzer’s.

  43. I was expecting the book to be great, because I thought that it would help me become a better decision maker. But it doesn’t do that at all. Some of the stories are interesting, but they are more misleading than helpful.

  44. @candid_observer
    I used to be quite skeptical myself of the importance of the results described in Thinking Fast and Thinking Slow. But I've become very much persuaded that they are indeed quite basic and of great consequence.

    The point isn't whether Kahneman is "tricking" us into coming to the wrong conclusion in cases like Linda the bank teller. It is that we seem to have an extraordinary and powerful attraction to thinking in terms of representativeness rather than of pure logic. In this sense, Kahneman's results might be understood as demonstrating just how easy it is for people to be tricked in this particular way -- how much more inclined we are on average to leap to the intuitive, but wrong, conclusion rather than the logical one. Much of his work involved finding just how far this could be pushed before we finally succumb to logic -- just how explicitly the correct logical inference had to be featured before most people would concede that the logical conclusion was the right one. Some of his more extreme examples make this clear.

    And it's not trivial in cases like decisions in sports. Certainly it was initially very hard for many managers in baseball to think in terms of the actual statistical results rather than prototypes.

    Replies: @Bill P, @Forbes

    The point isn’t whether Kahneman is “tricking” us into coming to the wrong conclusion in cases like Linda the bank teller. It is that we seem to have an extraordinary and powerful attraction to thinking in terms of representativeness rather than of pure logic. In this sense, Kahneman’s results might be understood as demonstrating just how easy it is for people to be tricked in this particular way — how much more inclined we are on average to leap to the intuitive, but wrong, conclusion rather than the logical one.

    There’s a good reason for that. Reasoning is slow, inefficient and often clumsy. If you’re playing a sport and your opponent has to stop to think about something, nine times out of ten you’ve got him beat. The same applies in many intellectual tasks such as law. The lawyer who knows stuff will usually beat the one who has to figure it out even if their IQ is comparable.

    What Kahneman is writing about is the distinction between reasoning and learned response. Ideally, in a competitive environment reasoning should be one’s last resort. Athletes are often told not to “overthink” and to use “muscle memory.” Sounds dumb, but it’s good advice (even though “muscle memory” is a misleading term). In fact, the main benefit of reasoning is to prevent the reasoner from having to use reason for the same task the next time. It is something one uses in novel situations.

    So what Kahneman is doing to trick people is dressing up novel situations as routine ones. Novel situations occur in day-to-day life, but not in the contexts Kahneman presents. For most people, novel situations are mainly social. Abstract reasoning tasks involving numbers or formal logic rarely present themselves. However, reasoning about other people’s behavior and thoughts occupies enormous bandwidth.

    This is why nerds like Kahneman’s book: it makes them feel good about themselves by leaving out the majority of reasoning while emphasizing the kind they happen to be relatively good at. I’d go so far as to say that Kahneman is pulling a fast one on the nerds. He’s disguising one of their shortcomings as a superior trait to flatter them and get them to buy his book. Pretty clever.

    Say we presented a bunch of quant types with Jane Austen-like social quandaries. Most of them would be confused. If forced to face these in real life, many would feel great distress, and probably show it physiologically. It would make a funny skit.

    Kahneman isn’t coming up with anything new at all here. His distinction between “fast” and “slow” thinking is facile and doesn’t explain the real difference between the two. Even worse, it muddies the waters.

    • Agree: Forbes
    • Replies: @vhrm
    @Bill P


    Abstract reasoning tasks involving numbers or formal logic rarely present themselves. However, reasoning about other people’s behavior and thoughts occupies enormous bandwidth.
    ...
    Say we presented a bunch of quant types with Jane Austen-like social quandaries. Most of them would be confused.
     
    I loved reading some Jane Austen , but more recently I think most of that stuff really is "noise" and wasted effort. It's cute, but a distraction.

    Arranged marriages (esp with _some_ input from participants) work decently well apparently.

    Also instead of spending all our time and effort on who has exactly which slice of the pie and how to get a bigger slice of the pie by being cute, funny, clever, etc...
    we can just go bake some more pies and not worry about it.

    Or, if you will, you may have always have some jocks around as politicians and salesmen, but really it's currently a nerds' world.

    , @Reg Cæsar
    @Bill P


    In fact, the main benefit of reasoning is to prevent the reasoner from having to use reason for the same task the next time. It is something one uses in novel situations.
     
    "In any place where they fight, a man who knows how to drill men can always be a King. We shall go to those parts and say to any King we find - "D'you want to vanquish your foes?' and we will show him how to drill men; for that we know better than anything else."

    --The Man Who Would Be King
    , @Known Fact
    @Bill P


    Abstract reasoning tasks involving numbers or formal logic rarely present themselves.
     
    Would playing the ponies qualify?

    Before every race you face a basic fast/slow question: Do you
    a) Play your initial hunch or gut feeling?
    b) Play your handy dandy heuristics, based on years of experience (and biases)?
    c) Dive in deep and painstakingly analyze the race line-by-line from scratch?

    There's also d) Throw in that crazy pick from your wife, friend or mother-in-law who bets the horses once every five years

    Replies: @vhrm

    , @Chrisnonymous
    @Bill P

    You are posing the question as fast processes vs slow processes, but this is a mistake. Machines perform logical operations at speed. The question is why the mind evolved to do logic slowly, and the answer is that it evolved to do Kahnemann's system 1, not logic. But why? What evolutionary advantage was there in narrative thinking that promoted it over logic? Or is it an artifact of accident?

    Replies: @wren, @El Dato

    , @wren
    @Bill P

    I read "Mindblindness" by Borat's cousin about 20 years ago (a reader here clued me in to the fact that he's a schmuck too) and one of the things that stuck with me from that book is that while animals evolve various advantages, like speed, claws, sharp teeth, wings or whatever, ancestors to humans evolved a big social brain that could very quickly discern friend from foe (prey from predator) before one became the prey due to a slow response. The large social group of allies became the evolved evolutionary advantage, or something lile that. He argued that huge brain resources are devoted to this, without most people being aware of it at all.

    Of course, autistic folks don't process things the same way, and their brains end up having to use logic to figure out why someone is staring at something, etc and why their fast twitch social skills are so poor, but their pattern recognition might be superior.

    , @El Dato
    @Bill P


    In fact, the main benefit of reasoning is to prevent the reasoner from having to use reason for the same task the next time. It is something one uses in novel situations.
     
    There is actually a computational model for this out there, from the 50s. It's roughly about this:

    - perform painstaking problem space search if you don't know what to do (N.B: this "search" may involve logic aka. the "search" is "theorem proving", but probably does not)
    - once you found a solution and could apply it successfully, remember it for next time so that you skip search (aka "chunking")

    The goal explicitly was to compare the performance of a system built according to this model against human performance.

    Several implementations exist, but it never became big & famous.

    Soar (cognitive architecture)

    It's from way before even the first big enthusiasm for Neural Networks, which happened in the 80s.


    These assumptions lead to an architecture that supports three levels of processing. At the lowest level, is bottom-up, parallel, and automatic processing. The next level is the deliberative level, where knowledge from the first level is used to propose, select, and apply a single action. These two levels implement fast, skilled behavior, and roughly correspond to Kahneman’s System 1 processing level. More complex behavior arises automatically when knowledge is incomplete or uncertain, through a third level of processing using substates, roughly corresponding to System 2.
     
  45. So what Kahneman is doing to trick people is dressing up novel situations as routine ones. Novel situations occur in day-to-day life, but not in the contexts Kahneman presents.

    Yep.

    And that too:

    “Kahneman isn’t coming up with anything new at all here. His distinction between “fast” and “slow” thinking is facile and doesn’t explain the real difference between the two. Even worse, it muddies the waters.”

  46. This book isn’t appealing to nerds because they can watch super nerds trick normies, it’s entertaining to nerds and normies alike to see how super nerds fool themselves. The stats profs who make the most basic stats errors, the psychologists and sociologists whose study designs are fundamentally flawed. I see this book as popular with the sorts of people that were raised anti religious and have grown humble by seeing the limits of science and the metastasis of scientism.

  47. @Travis
    Real world examples would be great

    The median lifespan of a nursing home resident is 8 months
    The average lifespan of a nursing home resident is 14 months

    Your grandmother is admitted to a nursing home with 100 other residents in March
    She is still alive at Christmas , how many of the other 100 residents are still living ?

    Replies: @Jonathan Mason, @Stan Adams

    My 90-year-old grandmother is going on four years now in a nursing home. It’s incredibly expensive.

  48. OT: With the Polish teenager Iga Swiatek winning her second major
    tennis title at the Adelaide International (Iga won the French Open
    last fall), Slavic women are crushing black women in world-class
    tennis. 9 out of top 20 singles tennis ranks are occupied by
    Slavic women

    • Replies: @wren
    @Anon 2

    I think that Thomas Sowell said that the word "slave" came from the word "Slav," but I don't think he is correct about that.

    Anyway, it's nice to see the Slavs clean up in the court I suppose.

    Replies: @Anon 2

  49. @Abe
    So... the front offices have come up with some new low-brow Yogi Bear (sic)-style cheat and need a fresh fig leaf to convince all those business class-riding/airport book-reading/season ticket-buying upper middle class BBQ dads that their formula for success is really high-brow and respectable? Steve mentions steroids, but didn’t we just go through a whole snowjob cycle of dozens of fawning articles on how super smart (and brave!) the Astros front office was, how even the guy whose job it is to restock paper and bottled water was so talented (and brave!) he could never get hired at McKinsey- he’s too overqualified!- and yet it all came down to sign-stealing and something as ridiculous as a guy in a dress shirt sitting right outside the dugout, beating out catcher’s signs on a trashcan with a stick?

    Replies: @Forbes

    Basically.

    1. BillyBall, i.e. Moneyball (e.g., walks as good as a hit, slugging average better than batting average) was introduced by Oakland A’s GM Billy Beane, copied by most.
    2. The Saberstats got done to death.
    3. Then the computer graphics tracking for balls in play resulting in defensive shifts…
    4. New gimmick…Thinking Fast and Slow…

    Baseball, as a game of strategy, has always contained lots of conventional wisdom and common sense, i.e. baseball wisdom, or the inside game. “Finding an edge” has been the modern game’s way of engagement–therefore, plain old cheating (Astros sign stealing) is often the edge..

  50. seems to be the midwit book du jour. my brother, who is pretty smart but not STEM PHD smart, is fully ensconced in the midwit book club cycle, and reads about 30 books a year or more. i use him as a barometer. whenever he starts talking about a book, i know it’s doing the rounds. the Kahneman book was on his lips last year.

    i believe he just recently discovered Matt Ridley, which reminded me of reading some of Red Queen 25 years ago. talking with my brother is like a trip decades into the past a lot of the times when it comes to academic’s works.

    he’s smarter than the midwits though, and most of the time he eventually gets to a higher intellectual synergy level. it took him years, but he finally caught on to all the jewish podcasters and ‘conservative’ pundits. now he just curses them half the time when they start promoting CPAC, Prager videos, or Ben Shapiro.

    he’s looking to get his masters degree in his technical field, and told me all the graduate programs at the Ivys are filled with total nonsense.

  51. @candid_observer
    I used to be quite skeptical myself of the importance of the results described in Thinking Fast and Thinking Slow. But I've become very much persuaded that they are indeed quite basic and of great consequence.

    The point isn't whether Kahneman is "tricking" us into coming to the wrong conclusion in cases like Linda the bank teller. It is that we seem to have an extraordinary and powerful attraction to thinking in terms of representativeness rather than of pure logic. In this sense, Kahneman's results might be understood as demonstrating just how easy it is for people to be tricked in this particular way -- how much more inclined we are on average to leap to the intuitive, but wrong, conclusion rather than the logical one. Much of his work involved finding just how far this could be pushed before we finally succumb to logic -- just how explicitly the correct logical inference had to be featured before most people would concede that the logical conclusion was the right one. Some of his more extreme examples make this clear.

    And it's not trivial in cases like decisions in sports. Certainly it was initially very hard for many managers in baseball to think in terms of the actual statistical results rather than prototypes.

    Replies: @Bill P, @Forbes

    It is that we seem to have an extraordinary and powerful attraction to thinking in terms of representativeness rather than of pure logic.

    We’re culturally/socially conditioned to stories, not facts. The so-called error in Linda the Teller scenario is that people “fill in the blanks” in the story/query in ways they are used to seeing. As you say…

    how much more inclined we are on average to leap to the intuitive, but wrong, conclusion rather than the logical one.

    Homo economicus (rational man) is the great assumption error of classical economics and Kahneman’s psychology-infused behavioral economics. I think it’s a safe bet to say that some men are capable of reasoned logic, but most are social-emotional animals reacting on instinct, intuition, feelings, and personal preferences of-the-moment–not reasoning. Rationalizations (post-hoc) are what most people think of as reasoned decision-making.

  52. The failure of the Far Right/MAGA resembles an extremely slow-thinking individual in the driver’s seat of an extremely fast-moving car, in the wrong lane, with no seatbelt on.

  53. The authors themselves were duped by the biases they write about. It really is a humbling read.

  54. @Happy Tapir
    Why is Steve skeptical, I mean in what sense is he skeptical, about iq tests? I thought he believed in iq science. Please explain a bit.

    In the question on the iq sample, technically you wouldn’t expect the sample mean to be 101; in all probability it would not end up being that, but some number along a bell curve centered at 101.

    Replies: @vhrm

    He’s not really. In this post for some reason Steve is being somewhat anti-math and anti-model and saying that it’s not a huge deal that our intuition’s probabilistic thinking is inaccurate or biased because I’m long term valuable issues we (or someone) actually sits down and does the math.

    i.e. that if you encounter something unlikely in real life that it’s good or normal to be skeptical of it and presumably doubt/double check things.

    So that IF that first kid really did test at iq 150 maybe something was wrong with the test like it was scored wrong or the original characterization was wrong or something else.

    (at least that’s what I think he’s saying)

    • Replies: @Happy Tapir
    @vhrm

    Thanks. I think I get it now. Steve was saying he would assume something was wrong with the test if the first score he saw was 150, because of the story with the afct between 1976 and 1980. Do you guys know why that happened? I think from my reading, though of course they understate it, was that the 1976 assumed each cohort would have the same population average iq as recruits in the 1950s. Of course not, we had had the 1965 hart cellar act and greater integration since that time. Which means that they arbitrarily set the average iq to 100 in the 1976 test group and assumed that 100 was the same as the 1950s 100. Very different 100s. Very different. The difference caused was so great that the sergeants on the ground were able to notice it!

    Replies: @res

  55. Perhaps Kahneman is just the Kandinsky of airport authors

    • LOL: Cortes
  56. Smart people love the idea of discovering a deeper cause, whether it be gravity explaining the motion of planets or a Freudian explanation of someone’s anxiety. As there are hundreds of heuristics people use, a good academic can isolate one and document a scenario where it errors. Usually, these errors are inconsequential, such as the mistaken inference a female introvert is a librarian as opposed to a secretary. The author and reader can smugly revel in the fact that they would not succumb to such an error, and why a particular policy based on this insight should be adopted. It appeals to people’s pride.

    • Replies: @The Alarmist
    @eric


    Smart people love the idea of discovering a deeper cause, whether it be gravity explaining the motion of planets or a Freudian explanation of someone’s anxiety.
     
    In ancient times or among primitive cultures, folks thought capricious gods were driving various forces and events. How is that any less a plausible explanation than concepts like Dark Matter?

    Replies: @El Dato, @Anonymous

  57. @Bill P
    @candid_observer


    The point isn’t whether Kahneman is “tricking” us into coming to the wrong conclusion in cases like Linda the bank teller. It is that we seem to have an extraordinary and powerful attraction to thinking in terms of representativeness rather than of pure logic. In this sense, Kahneman’s results might be understood as demonstrating just how easy it is for people to be tricked in this particular way — how much more inclined we are on average to leap to the intuitive, but wrong, conclusion rather than the logical one.
     
    There's a good reason for that. Reasoning is slow, inefficient and often clumsy. If you're playing a sport and your opponent has to stop to think about something, nine times out of ten you've got him beat. The same applies in many intellectual tasks such as law. The lawyer who knows stuff will usually beat the one who has to figure it out even if their IQ is comparable.

    What Kahneman is writing about is the distinction between reasoning and learned response. Ideally, in a competitive environment reasoning should be one's last resort. Athletes are often told not to "overthink" and to use "muscle memory." Sounds dumb, but it's good advice (even though "muscle memory" is a misleading term). In fact, the main benefit of reasoning is to prevent the reasoner from having to use reason for the same task the next time. It is something one uses in novel situations.

    So what Kahneman is doing to trick people is dressing up novel situations as routine ones. Novel situations occur in day-to-day life, but not in the contexts Kahneman presents. For most people, novel situations are mainly social. Abstract reasoning tasks involving numbers or formal logic rarely present themselves. However, reasoning about other people's behavior and thoughts occupies enormous bandwidth.

    This is why nerds like Kahneman's book: it makes them feel good about themselves by leaving out the majority of reasoning while emphasizing the kind they happen to be relatively good at. I'd go so far as to say that Kahneman is pulling a fast one on the nerds. He's disguising one of their shortcomings as a superior trait to flatter them and get them to buy his book. Pretty clever.

    Say we presented a bunch of quant types with Jane Austen-like social quandaries. Most of them would be confused. If forced to face these in real life, many would feel great distress, and probably show it physiologically. It would make a funny skit.

    Kahneman isn't coming up with anything new at all here. His distinction between "fast" and "slow" thinking is facile and doesn't explain the real difference between the two. Even worse, it muddies the waters.

    Replies: @vhrm, @Reg Cæsar, @Known Fact, @Chrisnonymous, @wren, @El Dato

    Abstract reasoning tasks involving numbers or formal logic rarely present themselves. However, reasoning about other people’s behavior and thoughts occupies enormous bandwidth.

    Say we presented a bunch of quant types with Jane Austen-like social quandaries. Most of them would be confused.

    I loved reading some Jane Austen , but more recently I think most of that stuff really is “noise” and wasted effort. It’s cute, but a distraction.

    Arranged marriages (esp with _some_ input from participants) work decently well apparently.

    Also instead of spending all our time and effort on who has exactly which slice of the pie and how to get a bigger slice of the pie by being cute, funny, clever, etc…
    we can just go bake some more pies and not worry about it.

    Or, if you will, you may have always have some jocks around as politicians and salesmen, but really it’s currently a nerds’ world.

  58. If the first child sampled had an IQ of 150, my assumption would be that this anomalous kid would skew the mean IQ of the smaller pool I was looking at higher than the mean of the entire group.

  59. -It’s a been a long time since I read the book but I had some similar thoughts on the examples. If you know basic set theory and read the questions carefully and very literally they are pretty easy. But if you read the prompts more impressionistically then you will fall for the tricks. Not sure what lessons we’re supposed to draw from this. But this sort of thing definitely appeals to nerds who like to think of themselves as hyper-rational (e.g., Slate Star Codex commenters).

    -On the IQ question, the logic in this post is very Bayesian. I think K&A’s statement of the problem is okay since the assumptions are clearly specified (randomly sampled from mean 100). And while 150 is an unlikely first draw, it’s still a possible value. If this happened in real life, yes, this would make you wonder if the average is really 100 or if the draw was really a random sample. But as a math problem you take the assumptions as given.

  60. anon[173] • Disclaimer says:

    Yeah, this is a kind of functional fixedness that academia drills into its Phd. apple-polishers. Thompson over there just keeps perseverating his little arithmetical set-pieces with supercilious asides about how not everyone is clever enough to do these tricks just so, and that’s why nobody trusts Pfizer.

    Maybe we should help him formulate a little arithmetic problem that divides the $3 billion Pfizer paid to settle criminal beefs by the total bribes and featherbed salaries it paid to get legal immunity for vaccine injury, equals something.

    I recall an internet econ academic who kept proving to us, arithmetically, with his little discounted cashflow models and data pulled fresh from his indicative ass, that everything was ticking along just as expected, back when Paulson looted the fisc in the greatest financial crime in history until 2019.

    Fucking professional spergs.

  61. “I’m a lot more skeptical of IQ testing than Kahneman”

    Frankly, I’ve been skeptical of them ever since I was in high school and we were required to take three IQ tests, spaced over a period of several months. My scores were 107, 115 and 126.

    They tossed out the high and low score and said I had a 115 IQ. Really?

    Since I know little, if anything, about what I call “the head sciences” who am I to say that intelligence can’t be measured? Nevertheless my little pea-brain can’t help but think sometimes that the notion that one can measure intelligence “intelligently” has always struck me as something of a paradox.

  62. Sometimes I think culture sits on top of all of this, especially at the fast thinking level. When I watch Japanese people interact with each other or to some situation and then compare them to Japanese Americans, I see how thinking is affected by culture.

    I also think twitter/sjw/cancel culture is starting to do something similar to Americans. Conversations with coworkers show me that lots of strange stuff is getting ingrained at the fast thinking level because people need to stay employed. At some level they are starting to get dumber though.

    Maybe Steve can write a less Aspergery book that starts with real-world mistakes that people commonly make because their fast twitch thinking has been contaminated by twitter/sjw etc. culture. Maybe their slow thinking too, because ideas are getting cancelled too.

    • Agree: Chrisnonymous
    • Replies: @vhrm
    @wren


    Sometimes I think culture sits on top of all of this, especially at the fast thinking level. When I watch Japanese people interact with each other or to some situation and then compare them to Japanese Americans, I see how thinking is affected by culture.
     
    i'd love to hear some examples or expansion on this.

    To me there's no question that culture has an impact. i mean just look at things even within subcultures in the US e.g. academia vs business . Or even "startup business" vs "highly optimized mature business" in one case you just wing it half the time, in the other if your projection is wrong by more than 0.3% the company goes out of business. Or level of precision in planning / designing / building some random software vs a high rise building vs airliner vs nuclear reactor.

    Replies: @wren

  63. @vhrm
    @Happy Tapir

    He's not really. In this post for some reason Steve is being somewhat anti-math and anti-model and saying that it's not a huge deal that our intuition's probabilistic thinking is inaccurate or biased because I'm long term valuable issues we (or someone) actually sits down and does the math.

    i.e. that if you encounter something unlikely in real life that it's good or normal to be skeptical of it and presumably doubt/double check things.

    So that IF that first kid really did test at iq 150 maybe something was wrong with the test like it was scored wrong or the original characterization was wrong or something else.

    (at least that's what I think he's saying)

    Replies: @Happy Tapir

    Thanks. I think I get it now. Steve was saying he would assume something was wrong with the test if the first score he saw was 150, because of the story with the afct between 1976 and 1980. Do you guys know why that happened? I think from my reading, though of course they understate it, was that the 1976 assumed each cohort would have the same population average iq as recruits in the 1950s. Of course not, we had had the 1965 hart cellar act and greater integration since that time. Which means that they arbitrarily set the average iq to 100 in the 1976 test group and assumed that 100 was the same as the 1950s 100. Very different 100s. Very different. The difference caused was so great that the sergeants on the ground were able to notice it!

    • Agree: El Dato
    • Replies: @res
    @Happy Tapir

    This page has two good links regarding the ASVAB misnorming.
    https://www.cna.org/pop-rep/1998/html/2-afqt.html#foot-32

    The first is a 218 page technical deep dive into what happened and quantification of the effects.

    A Reexamination of the Normalization of Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) Forms 6, 7, 6E, and 7E
    https://apps.dtic.mil/sti/citations/ADA094684

    They give a good summary on page 8/11, but too many OCR errors to excerpt here (raw cut and paste after the MORE).

    The second is a 200 page book.

    Low-Aptitude Men in the Military: Who Profits, Who Pays?
    https://psycnet.apa.org/record/1991-98897-000

    I think this editorial review on Amazon gives a flavor (also see the abstract at the link above).


    "This book offers compelling evidence that efforts, although well-intended, to use the services as social welfare agents of change were misguided efforts of convenience. This excellent book will help you appreciate these new projections."-Military Review
     
    This book review (full text on LibGen and Sci-Hub) gives more detail:
    https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0095327X9201900110


    The findings of our study are summarized as follows:

    * The current normalization of ASVAB is too easyl 'it ovenestimates the mental ability of low aptitude recruaits 15 to 17 percentiles. (For example, in figure I re sho1
    that a raw score of 31 converts to the 31st percentile . "
    the current DoD norms but to only the 16th percentile by
    our norms.)
    * Because the normalization has been incorrect, DoD reports
    have overstated the mental aptitude-of recruits since
    January 1976. For the past 3 years, approximately 25 to
    30 percent of all DOD accessions have been in mental
    category IV (the lowest acceptable category) rather than
    the 5 to 6 percent reported by DOD (see figure I).
    * Although the mental quality of recruits enlisted since
    1976 is'lower than indicated by DoD reports, it is
    similar to that during the peak of the Vietnam War and
    better than that during the Korean War (see figure II).
    0 The analytical technique of sample stratification often
    used in the normalization of military aptitude tests will
    not, in general, produce correct results.
     
  64. @Bill P
    @candid_observer


    The point isn’t whether Kahneman is “tricking” us into coming to the wrong conclusion in cases like Linda the bank teller. It is that we seem to have an extraordinary and powerful attraction to thinking in terms of representativeness rather than of pure logic. In this sense, Kahneman’s results might be understood as demonstrating just how easy it is for people to be tricked in this particular way — how much more inclined we are on average to leap to the intuitive, but wrong, conclusion rather than the logical one.
     
    There's a good reason for that. Reasoning is slow, inefficient and often clumsy. If you're playing a sport and your opponent has to stop to think about something, nine times out of ten you've got him beat. The same applies in many intellectual tasks such as law. The lawyer who knows stuff will usually beat the one who has to figure it out even if their IQ is comparable.

    What Kahneman is writing about is the distinction between reasoning and learned response. Ideally, in a competitive environment reasoning should be one's last resort. Athletes are often told not to "overthink" and to use "muscle memory." Sounds dumb, but it's good advice (even though "muscle memory" is a misleading term). In fact, the main benefit of reasoning is to prevent the reasoner from having to use reason for the same task the next time. It is something one uses in novel situations.

    So what Kahneman is doing to trick people is dressing up novel situations as routine ones. Novel situations occur in day-to-day life, but not in the contexts Kahneman presents. For most people, novel situations are mainly social. Abstract reasoning tasks involving numbers or formal logic rarely present themselves. However, reasoning about other people's behavior and thoughts occupies enormous bandwidth.

    This is why nerds like Kahneman's book: it makes them feel good about themselves by leaving out the majority of reasoning while emphasizing the kind they happen to be relatively good at. I'd go so far as to say that Kahneman is pulling a fast one on the nerds. He's disguising one of their shortcomings as a superior trait to flatter them and get them to buy his book. Pretty clever.

    Say we presented a bunch of quant types with Jane Austen-like social quandaries. Most of them would be confused. If forced to face these in real life, many would feel great distress, and probably show it physiologically. It would make a funny skit.

    Kahneman isn't coming up with anything new at all here. His distinction between "fast" and "slow" thinking is facile and doesn't explain the real difference between the two. Even worse, it muddies the waters.

    Replies: @vhrm, @Reg Cæsar, @Known Fact, @Chrisnonymous, @wren, @El Dato

    In fact, the main benefit of reasoning is to prevent the reasoner from having to use reason for the same task the next time. It is something one uses in novel situations.

    “In any place where they fight, a man who knows how to drill men can always be a King. We shall go to those parts and say to any King we find – “D’you want to vanquish your foes?’ and we will show him how to drill men; for that we know better than anything else.”

    –The Man Who Would Be King

  65. @Buzz Mohawk

    Acts of human cognition can be pictured as falling along a continuum from intuition (which is fast and fun) to logic (which is slow and tiring). Snap judgments work well enough much of the time, especially by avoiding paralysis through analysis.
     
    Steve here has described the difference between normal, human thought and that of a sufferer of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.

    OCD can really be described as "paralysis through analysis."

    If you truly have an OCD brain or whatever, you find it difficult to mentally work things out on the continuum, which runs from "intuition (which is fast and fun) to logic (which is slow and tiring)." Every, single, little thing you do is subject to logical analysis and re-analysis and correction, ad infinitum.

    These little things can be as small as setting a book down on a desk, making sure it isn't too close to the edge and won't fall off. Or checking to make sure you aren't bumping into the door frame as you walk into a room. And on, and on, forever.

    It can also mean checking and correcting and deleting and re-writing a comment on a blog -- when it really isn't necessary.

    Let's just say that it is extremely important to distinguish between thinking fast and thinking slow, to do one or the other at the appropriate time. When you can't, you have a debilitating mental illness. This is a very important subject that perhaps most "normal" people don't appreciate.

    Replies: @Known Fact, @nebulafox

    Your OCD/Analysis by Paralysis point is fascinating. I suppose there are disorders that trap people into the other end of the spectrum as well — mentally shooting from the hip every time, with no analysis.

    • Replies: @Muggles
    @Known Fact


    I suppose there are disorders that trap people into the other end of the spectrum as well — mentally shooting from the hip every time, with no analysis.
     
    Yes, it's call impulsive behavior, or thinking.

    It is one of the attributes, it is said, of psychopaths.
  66. OT: I have no idea what to think of this, fast or slow, other than looking forward to Steve’s post on the finished product.

    https://nypost.com/2021/02/26/superman-reboot-planned-by-j-j-abrams-ta-nehisi-coates/

    Thinking a little more slowly, I suppose it will be interesting to see the genius addition to the body of the superman canon, and am sure the film will embody the essence of the true SuperMan such that everybody will be left in awe at this reembodiment of this up to now clearly disembodied concept of the one true SuperMan

  67. Steve I think the baseball guys in the NYT article explain themselves well enough a bit further down: they say that apparently they go with their gut for a lot of their decisions, especially in scouting even when it’s against their data and definitely when they’re is little data.

    And so this book makes them mindful that their gut can lead to bad decisions (and to some degree how). At least that’s what I got out of it.

    • Replies: @Jonathan Mason
    @vhrm

    The thing about scouting is that it is relatively easy to determine what ball skills a player has, but much harder to determine whether he has the personality characteristics necessary for successfully highest level, when so many professional sports careers have been ruined by excessive consumption of alcohol and recreational drugs, gambling, and inability to handle large amounts of money.

    In the world of soccer at the present time a Brazilian player called Raphinha whom Leeds United bought cheaply from French club Rennes is wowing commentators, and there is now talk of his contract being bought out by a major club for a vast amount of money.

    But who would have thought that a mediocre 24 year old who only speaks Portuguese and some French would instantly shine as a star in chilly Northern England where there are few fellow Brazilians? Well, somebody did!

    , @ben tillman
    @vhrm

    "Going with their gut" = "He's tall"

  68. @eric
    Smart people love the idea of discovering a deeper cause, whether it be gravity explaining the motion of planets or a Freudian explanation of someone's anxiety. As there are hundreds of heuristics people use, a good academic can isolate one and document a scenario where it errors. Usually, these errors are inconsequential, such as the mistaken inference a female introvert is a librarian as opposed to a secretary. The author and reader can smugly revel in the fact that they would not succumb to such an error, and why a particular policy based on this insight should be adopted. It appeals to people's pride.

    Replies: @The Alarmist

    Smart people love the idea of discovering a deeper cause, whether it be gravity explaining the motion of planets or a Freudian explanation of someone’s anxiety.

    In ancient times or among primitive cultures, folks thought capricious gods were driving various forces and events. How is that any less a plausible explanation than concepts like Dark Matter?

    • Replies: @El Dato
    @The Alarmist

    Because the gods are capricious and they can thus be used to explain anything, including Trump not getting elected or the wart on our aunt's behind.

    On the other hand, Dark Matter is very mechanistic and not animated by volition. It just needs to do one thing, one thing only: increase gravitational pull so that the ned model matches actual observations (of there being a ,ot of mass that apparently cannot be detected via electromagnetic interaction). From there, one can posit how it may be detected experimentally. (I hear there is a Axion signal now.)

    Next question.

    , @Anonymous
    @The Alarmist

    The idea of Dark Matter is actually refreshingly honest. Instead of inventing all kinds of imaginary things/gods, it basically states "we tried out best to explain everything we are able to see, and yet, the only way we can make the ends meet is to introduce a fudge factor that accounts for a huge amount of something we cannot detect or explain; for the time being, it's the best we can do".

    If other fields were always this honest about their limitations, there would be a lot less bullshit permeating minds.

  69. @Bill P
    @candid_observer


    The point isn’t whether Kahneman is “tricking” us into coming to the wrong conclusion in cases like Linda the bank teller. It is that we seem to have an extraordinary and powerful attraction to thinking in terms of representativeness rather than of pure logic. In this sense, Kahneman’s results might be understood as demonstrating just how easy it is for people to be tricked in this particular way — how much more inclined we are on average to leap to the intuitive, but wrong, conclusion rather than the logical one.
     
    There's a good reason for that. Reasoning is slow, inefficient and often clumsy. If you're playing a sport and your opponent has to stop to think about something, nine times out of ten you've got him beat. The same applies in many intellectual tasks such as law. The lawyer who knows stuff will usually beat the one who has to figure it out even if their IQ is comparable.

    What Kahneman is writing about is the distinction between reasoning and learned response. Ideally, in a competitive environment reasoning should be one's last resort. Athletes are often told not to "overthink" and to use "muscle memory." Sounds dumb, but it's good advice (even though "muscle memory" is a misleading term). In fact, the main benefit of reasoning is to prevent the reasoner from having to use reason for the same task the next time. It is something one uses in novel situations.

    So what Kahneman is doing to trick people is dressing up novel situations as routine ones. Novel situations occur in day-to-day life, but not in the contexts Kahneman presents. For most people, novel situations are mainly social. Abstract reasoning tasks involving numbers or formal logic rarely present themselves. However, reasoning about other people's behavior and thoughts occupies enormous bandwidth.

    This is why nerds like Kahneman's book: it makes them feel good about themselves by leaving out the majority of reasoning while emphasizing the kind they happen to be relatively good at. I'd go so far as to say that Kahneman is pulling a fast one on the nerds. He's disguising one of their shortcomings as a superior trait to flatter them and get them to buy his book. Pretty clever.

    Say we presented a bunch of quant types with Jane Austen-like social quandaries. Most of them would be confused. If forced to face these in real life, many would feel great distress, and probably show it physiologically. It would make a funny skit.

    Kahneman isn't coming up with anything new at all here. His distinction between "fast" and "slow" thinking is facile and doesn't explain the real difference between the two. Even worse, it muddies the waters.

    Replies: @vhrm, @Reg Cæsar, @Known Fact, @Chrisnonymous, @wren, @El Dato

    Abstract reasoning tasks involving numbers or formal logic rarely present themselves.

    Would playing the ponies qualify?

    Before every race you face a basic fast/slow question: Do you
    a) Play your initial hunch or gut feeling?
    b) Play your handy dandy heuristics, based on years of experience (and biases)?
    c) Dive in deep and painstakingly analyze the race line-by-line from scratch?

    There’s also d) Throw in that crazy pick from your wife, friend or mother-in-law who bets the horses once every five years

    • Replies: @vhrm
    @Known Fact

    A couple of months back i read about some dude who made 9 figures in the 80s and 90s by applying statistical analysis to horse racing in Hong Kong. That kind of opportunity is likely long gone, but it's pretty impressive. That's definitely an example of applying probability and large numbers to exploit people's guts.

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2018-05-03/the-gambler-who-cracked-the-horse-racing-code


    There's also this "models vs experts" whitepaper in the context of an investment advisors that i find is relatively informative.
    https://alphaarchitect.com/2014/05/13/behavioral-finance-and-investing-are-you-trying-too-hard/

    In part it argues that one reason why the "value" and "momentum" anomalies in stock investing persist even though they are known (and thus technically should be arbitraged out of existence) is because of persistent psychological features of investment managers (and/or their clients).

    Replies: @Known Fact

  70. Professional sports is all fixed and they’re all on steroids.

    • Agree: JMcG
  71. @Bill P
    @candid_observer


    The point isn’t whether Kahneman is “tricking” us into coming to the wrong conclusion in cases like Linda the bank teller. It is that we seem to have an extraordinary and powerful attraction to thinking in terms of representativeness rather than of pure logic. In this sense, Kahneman’s results might be understood as demonstrating just how easy it is for people to be tricked in this particular way — how much more inclined we are on average to leap to the intuitive, but wrong, conclusion rather than the logical one.
     
    There's a good reason for that. Reasoning is slow, inefficient and often clumsy. If you're playing a sport and your opponent has to stop to think about something, nine times out of ten you've got him beat. The same applies in many intellectual tasks such as law. The lawyer who knows stuff will usually beat the one who has to figure it out even if their IQ is comparable.

    What Kahneman is writing about is the distinction between reasoning and learned response. Ideally, in a competitive environment reasoning should be one's last resort. Athletes are often told not to "overthink" and to use "muscle memory." Sounds dumb, but it's good advice (even though "muscle memory" is a misleading term). In fact, the main benefit of reasoning is to prevent the reasoner from having to use reason for the same task the next time. It is something one uses in novel situations.

    So what Kahneman is doing to trick people is dressing up novel situations as routine ones. Novel situations occur in day-to-day life, but not in the contexts Kahneman presents. For most people, novel situations are mainly social. Abstract reasoning tasks involving numbers or formal logic rarely present themselves. However, reasoning about other people's behavior and thoughts occupies enormous bandwidth.

    This is why nerds like Kahneman's book: it makes them feel good about themselves by leaving out the majority of reasoning while emphasizing the kind they happen to be relatively good at. I'd go so far as to say that Kahneman is pulling a fast one on the nerds. He's disguising one of their shortcomings as a superior trait to flatter them and get them to buy his book. Pretty clever.

    Say we presented a bunch of quant types with Jane Austen-like social quandaries. Most of them would be confused. If forced to face these in real life, many would feel great distress, and probably show it physiologically. It would make a funny skit.

    Kahneman isn't coming up with anything new at all here. His distinction between "fast" and "slow" thinking is facile and doesn't explain the real difference between the two. Even worse, it muddies the waters.

    Replies: @vhrm, @Reg Cæsar, @Known Fact, @Chrisnonymous, @wren, @El Dato

    You are posing the question as fast processes vs slow processes, but this is a mistake. Machines perform logical operations at speed. The question is why the mind evolved to do logic slowly, and the answer is that it evolved to do Kahnemann’s system 1, not logic. But why? What evolutionary advantage was there in narrative thinking that promoted it over logic? Or is it an artifact of accident?

    • Replies: @wren
    @Chrisnonymous

    My new theory is that twitter/sjw/cancel culture is a virus that has infected the social fast twitch thinking center of people's brains. It could get in so easily because that area is pre-logic. Like toxoplasmosis or something, this sets people up to be taken advantage of.

    We need some operation warp speed meme vaccine asap.

    Or maybe it's already too late.

    Replies: @Chrisnonymous

    , @El Dato
    @Chrisnonymous

    Evolution will not realize a "logic system" per see. However, one can maybe find that a system built by evolution and adapted to the real world has some characteristics of a logic system "at high level" within limited usage areas. It will not refrain from becoming non-logical if necessities force it to do so.

    First off, you have to realize there is not "a logic".

    In fact, any "logic" applicable or useful in the real world will not be Aristotelean (aka classical) which are far too idealisticm but will qualities of paraconsistent logics: be able to deal with confusing and contradictory information:

    https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/logic-paraconsistent/

    You will have several logic depending on what you want to do. Fuzzy logic, linear logic, multivalued logic:

    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/226314931_Some_Useful_16-Valued_Logics_How_a_Computer_Network_Should_Think

    "Some Useful 16-Valued Logics: How a Computer Network Should Think"

    And that's just the beginning. Among others, you have to deal properly with several kinds of negation (for example: weak, strong, default) and not assume insane computational powers that are nowhere to be seen in the real world:

    https://www.scottaaronson.com/papers/philos.pdf : Why Philosophers Should Care About Computational Complexity

    Now you have to also get probabilistic reasoning into this (people reason probabilistically mostly, but will take shortcuts if things get costly to compute) Sadly the union of logic and probability is a not well-studied area. But there is a beginning:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Markov_logic_network

    Let's just say that "logic" is formalization of certain ways of thinking applicable to situation. The "logic" learnt in school is ass. There is a world out there with actually useful logics.

  72. Seve Ballesteros’s father-in-law’s famous maxim “bullshit baffles brains” (OK, something more elegant, about not investing in instruments he didn’t understand) may be on point:

    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/analysis-and-features/the-banker-the-credit-crisis-couldn-t-touch-878002.html

    Too few people are prepared to trust their own judgment in face of the enthusiasm of “experts”.

  73. @Anon 2
    OT: With the Polish teenager Iga Swiatek winning her second major
    tennis title at the Adelaide International (Iga won the French Open
    last fall), Slavic women are crushing black women in world-class
    tennis. 9 out of top 20 singles tennis ranks are occupied by
    Slavic women

    Replies: @wren

    I think that Thomas Sowell said that the word “slave” came from the word “Slav,” but I don’t think he is correct about that.

    Anyway, it’s nice to see the Slavs clean up in the court I suppose.

    • Replies: @Anon 2
    @wren

    It’s been noted that only the Americans are afraid of blacks, and of
    black women specifically. Fear of blacks (and fear of being
    called racist) is probably the dominant fear in the U.S. The
    first thing that black women notice (with surprise) when they visit the
    European continent is, “They’re not afraid of us here.”
    Europeans have thousands of years of experience in dealing
    with blacks, so they are race realists by definition.

    Replies: @Muggles

  74. @Anon
    @Bardon Kaldian

    How much of psychology is bullshit? Here’s an interesting article from 2014.


    The British amateur who debunked the mathematics of happiness

    The astonishing story of Nick Brown, the British man who began a part-time psychology course in his 50s – and ended up taking on America's academic establishment

    https://www.theguardian.com/science/2014/jan/19/mathematics-of-happiness-debunked-nick-brown
     

    One of the debunkers along with Brown was none other than Alan Sokal.
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Sokal
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sokal_affair

    Replies: @Bardon Kaldian

    Most of psychology as a science is bullshit. It is understandable that many psychologists want to quantify their field of work, thus gaining “scientific respectability”; yet, in most psych areas Aristotle devastating comment on Pythagoreans remains valid: Virtue is not a number.

  75. Dance a jig with me, would ya?

    • Thanks: wren
  76. @Paperback Writer
    @Bardon Kaldian

    Maybe you should tell the Nobel Committee of your findings.

    Replies: @Bardon Kaldian, @Stebbing Heuer

    Why? They are bulshitters par excellence – and know it better than others (I am talking about economics, peace & literature).

  77. @Bill P
    @candid_observer


    The point isn’t whether Kahneman is “tricking” us into coming to the wrong conclusion in cases like Linda the bank teller. It is that we seem to have an extraordinary and powerful attraction to thinking in terms of representativeness rather than of pure logic. In this sense, Kahneman’s results might be understood as demonstrating just how easy it is for people to be tricked in this particular way — how much more inclined we are on average to leap to the intuitive, but wrong, conclusion rather than the logical one.
     
    There's a good reason for that. Reasoning is slow, inefficient and often clumsy. If you're playing a sport and your opponent has to stop to think about something, nine times out of ten you've got him beat. The same applies in many intellectual tasks such as law. The lawyer who knows stuff will usually beat the one who has to figure it out even if their IQ is comparable.

    What Kahneman is writing about is the distinction between reasoning and learned response. Ideally, in a competitive environment reasoning should be one's last resort. Athletes are often told not to "overthink" and to use "muscle memory." Sounds dumb, but it's good advice (even though "muscle memory" is a misleading term). In fact, the main benefit of reasoning is to prevent the reasoner from having to use reason for the same task the next time. It is something one uses in novel situations.

    So what Kahneman is doing to trick people is dressing up novel situations as routine ones. Novel situations occur in day-to-day life, but not in the contexts Kahneman presents. For most people, novel situations are mainly social. Abstract reasoning tasks involving numbers or formal logic rarely present themselves. However, reasoning about other people's behavior and thoughts occupies enormous bandwidth.

    This is why nerds like Kahneman's book: it makes them feel good about themselves by leaving out the majority of reasoning while emphasizing the kind they happen to be relatively good at. I'd go so far as to say that Kahneman is pulling a fast one on the nerds. He's disguising one of their shortcomings as a superior trait to flatter them and get them to buy his book. Pretty clever.

    Say we presented a bunch of quant types with Jane Austen-like social quandaries. Most of them would be confused. If forced to face these in real life, many would feel great distress, and probably show it physiologically. It would make a funny skit.

    Kahneman isn't coming up with anything new at all here. His distinction between "fast" and "slow" thinking is facile and doesn't explain the real difference between the two. Even worse, it muddies the waters.

    Replies: @vhrm, @Reg Cæsar, @Known Fact, @Chrisnonymous, @wren, @El Dato

    I read “Mindblindness” by Borat’s cousin about 20 years ago (a reader here clued me in to the fact that he’s a schmuck too) and one of the things that stuck with me from that book is that while animals evolve various advantages, like speed, claws, sharp teeth, wings or whatever, ancestors to humans evolved a big social brain that could very quickly discern friend from foe (prey from predator) before one became the prey due to a slow response. The large social group of allies became the evolved evolutionary advantage, or something lile that. He argued that huge brain resources are devoted to this, without most people being aware of it at all.

    Of course, autistic folks don’t process things the same way, and their brains end up having to use logic to figure out why someone is staring at something, etc and why their fast twitch social skills are so poor, but their pattern recognition might be superior.

  78. This seems about as iSteve as it gets:
    Jeremy Lin said someone called him ‘coronavirus’ on his social media accounts. Probably just trying to drum up some easy publicity now that he is a “G-Leaguer” (didn’t even know that was a thing). But this being 2021, the NBA wants a full investigation of this horrific crime. And now Lin is refusing to participate in the investigation. He released this statement on Twitter, which strongly implies that the guy who did it is black. Of course, the other plausible explanation is that the guy who said it doesn’t actually exist:

  79. @Rob

    designed to fool you into giving the wrong answer, such as the famous “Linda is a bank teller” one where Tversky and Kahneman fool the public by severely violating the Chekhov’s Gun principle of good storytelling.
     
    If it’s the
    A) Linda is a bank Teller
    B)Linda is a bank teller and actively involved in femininity organizations

    A is, by the middle school rules we all learned when doing multiple-choice tests written by not overly smart teachers, most people, answered as if it were “Linda is a bank teller and not involved in feminism.” With just those two options presented, we are taking as a given that she is a bank teller, and she sounded like she would be a feminist from the story, so...

    Take this story

    “John is a single, thirty year old introvert. He is not comfortable with women, and prefers ‘objective’ numbers to dealing with people and the inherent messiness. He has a freezer full of human heads.

    Is John

    A) An Accountant
    B) An Accountsnt and a serial killer”

    Well, the reason one might be concerned with John is that he is definately a serial killer, so the answer that includes that very important conclusion is not the one we should focus on. Not to mention, if there were an option c, serial killer, I think one would be wise in both picking c, and avoiding John.

    Replies: @Rob, @Jonathan Mason

    actively involved in femininity organizations

    Feminist organizations. Stoopid autocorrect.

  80. @Rob

    designed to fool you into giving the wrong answer, such as the famous “Linda is a bank teller” one where Tversky and Kahneman fool the public by severely violating the Chekhov’s Gun principle of good storytelling.
     
    If it’s the
    A) Linda is a bank Teller
    B)Linda is a bank teller and actively involved in femininity organizations

    A is, by the middle school rules we all learned when doing multiple-choice tests written by not overly smart teachers, most people, answered as if it were “Linda is a bank teller and not involved in feminism.” With just those two options presented, we are taking as a given that she is a bank teller, and she sounded like she would be a feminist from the story, so...

    Take this story

    “John is a single, thirty year old introvert. He is not comfortable with women, and prefers ‘objective’ numbers to dealing with people and the inherent messiness. He has a freezer full of human heads.

    Is John

    A) An Accountant
    B) An Accountsnt and a serial killer”

    Well, the reason one might be concerned with John is that he is definately a serial killer, so the answer that includes that very important conclusion is not the one we should focus on. Not to mention, if there were an option c, serial killer, I think one would be wise in both picking c, and avoiding John.

    Replies: @Rob, @Jonathan Mason

    John might be an anatomist or pathologist or stem cell scientist. The human heads might be those of aborted fetuses. He might be a grave robber, or a student mortician. We can’t just jump to the conclusion that John is a serial killer.

    • Replies: @Rob
    @Jonathan Mason

    You, sir, are frustratingly correct!

  81. @Altai
    @Dieter Kief

    Curiously only the gurus pushing the economic policies which seem to only be good for disintegrating society, the state and social solidarity along with lowering the wages of the working class ever seem to show up on the shelves at airport bookshops.

    The great man of their utopia is Simon Amstell.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sf_1jw1AVsE

    Replies: @Lurker

    Jewish and gay!

  82. @RichardTaylor
    Smart men are more likely to be into abstract systems and love generating ideas. A subset get into philosophy and "thinking about thinking".

    Most of it is a waste of time. Almost all philosophy is a waste of time. Maybe that's the reason modern science finally starting making so much progress: it put endless "really smart" discussions aside and focused on demonstration, experiment, measurement, etc. That is, a lot hard, tedious work that's more like accounting than glorious thought experiments that make a fella get the awesome feels.

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B085SSXY45/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i0

    Replies: @Muggles, @Oscar Peterson

    Almost all philosophy is a waste of time. Maybe that’s the reason modern science finally starting making so much progress: it put endless “really smart” discussions aside and focused on demonstration, experiment, measurement, etc. That is, a lot hard, tedious work that’s more like accounting than glorious thought experiments that make a fella get the awesome feels.

    Yes, this is basically true. Except when philosophy becomes entangled with observations.

    I.e. – let’s look at large and small. When experimenters deconstruct matter/energy it becomes very philosophical. Photons act like particles and waves. Hmm… Pretty philosophical. What happens when and if you blast the smallest bits of ‘matter’ into other small bits. Yes, tiny stuff flashes out to detectors, or doesn’t. And at the very smallest levels you have ‘quantum effects.’

    Stuff can be two places at the same ‘time.’ Huh? And if you drill down far enough, it will move on you. So you can’t really ‘see’ it. Pretty philosophical, no?

    As for large, there is the odd ‘scientific fact’ that everything known to be ‘far away’ is also very old, due to the apparent limit to the speed of light. So nothing far way (and very big) can ever be visited, since it is now so old and we can never travel fast enough to see what’s there now. Hmmm..

    Also, ‘space’ is supposedly expanding faster than the speed of light itself. So far away stuff isn’t even “there” where it was, and we can never visit it (under current science doctrines) because it keeps moving farther even faster than light. So even if we could travel at light speed, it would still be too far to “catch.”

    To conclude: So small, that actually trying to “see” it moves it away. No longer there. So big, so old and far away we can never know much more than we do now. Too far away, and getting farther, unless we can travel multiple times the speed of light.

    All of these pretty philosophical notions define nature’s largest and smallest. To overcome current ‘scientific’ limits on large-and-small, mankind will have to embrace new thinking about science, if at all possible. So are we all doomed to study with our beakers and rulers just quite big, quite small? Maybe Einstein’s travelling train passengers seem more like philosophy than you think.

    • Replies: @Stebbing Heuer
    @Muggles

    Superb.

    Note also that the concept of falsifiability as being central to the scientific method was the product of the thinking of a philosopher, not a scientist.

  83. @Bardon Kaldian
    @El Dato

    This is as bullshit as Wolfram's New Kind of Science.

    https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51-2QGFFlpL._SX406_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

    As some guy said: This is BS. I knew him when he was Tungsten.

    https://www.catster.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/laughing-cat-shutterstock_364320_1.jpg

    Kahneman is, basically, a junk scientist with some interesting insights.

    Replies: @Chrisnonymous, @Paperback Writer, @El Dato

    This is as bullshit as Wolfram’s New Kind of Science.

    It depends on what the meaning of the word “This” is.

    Meanwhile:

    Power Asians doing the math stuff

    The Coach Who Led the U.S. Math Team Back to the Top

    Po-Shen Loh has harnessed his competitive impulses and iconoclastic tendencies to reinvigorate the U.S. Math Olympiad program.

    When you first coached the winning team, all the participants were male and you acknowledged the gender gap. Your winning team from 2019 was also all male. What could you be doing to achieve better gender balance?

    You need to make sure there are enough people who are trying to pick up these very unusual skills that are in the math Olympiads. When I think about the issues of diversity, I think about what is involved in getting people interested. So when I give a talk, I can tell who feels comfortable and who doesn’t feel comfortable. And actually one of my goals is to go and try to help the people who look like they don’t think they belong and to help them feel like they can.

    That’s an excellent way of saying “I’ll see what I can do”.

  84. Steve, have you read The Enigma of Reason? It’s a difficult book, more so than most, but it rewards the effort. As I remember the authors did not have a high opinion of “Thinking, Fast and Slow”, and made a point of rejecting its two-track model of cognition.

  85. @vhrm
    Steve I think the baseball guys in the NYT article explain themselves well enough a bit further down: they say that apparently they go with their gut for a lot of their decisions, especially in scouting even when it's against their data and definitely when they're is little data.

    And so this book makes them mindful that their gut can lead to bad decisions (and to some degree how). At least that's what I got out of it.

    Replies: @Jonathan Mason, @ben tillman

    The thing about scouting is that it is relatively easy to determine what ball skills a player has, but much harder to determine whether he has the personality characteristics necessary for successfully highest level, when so many professional sports careers have been ruined by excessive consumption of alcohol and recreational drugs, gambling, and inability to handle large amounts of money.

    In the world of soccer at the present time a Brazilian player called Raphinha whom Leeds United bought cheaply from French club Rennes is wowing commentators, and there is now talk of his contract being bought out by a major club for a vast amount of money.

    But who would have thought that a mediocre 24 year old who only speaks Portuguese and some French would instantly shine as a star in chilly Northern England where there are few fellow Brazilians? Well, somebody did!

  86. Following up on my Jeremy ‘coronavirus’ Lin post, Tariq Nasheed weighs in, raising the issue of “All the violent anti-Black racism in the US by Asians” (All? Did he mean to type ‘both cases’) :

  87. Could it be that the appeal of Thinking: Fast and Slow is like that of the similarly popular Emotional Intelligence? With both books, after all, nearly all of the value that a person might glean from the work is provided by the title, which suggests a pregnant possibility that he might not have thought of on his own.

    While we are on the subject of pregnant possibilities, another useful expression that need not be buttressed by a hundred thousand words in order to be of use is “midwit.” Popularized by Professor Edward Dutton, this term describes the sort of person who delves deeply into the text of books like Thinking: Fast and Slow in the hope of finding something other than the repeated repackaging of the title.

  88. @Morton's toes
    THIS IS A TRICK QUESTION.

    Smart guys do not love Khanimen's book. Khanimen and all academic psychologists love trick questions. If they have an easy question their psycho experiment subject will miss they love that. Also publishers love books that investors will buy that promise them insights to under priced assets and overlooked opportunities.

    It's almost all b. s. The market already knows everything worth knowing. The only way to beat them is to have inside advance knowledge. Don't buy Khanimen's book. Buy congressmen if you can afford them like Soros does.

    Replies: @Muggles

    The market already knows everything worth knowing.

    That’s funny. No economist would ever say that.

    In a two person market, it is a testable hypothesis. Otherwise no.

    Price discovery is a constant process in real markets which changes over time. Investors (and entrepreneurs and even ordinary workers) are constantly risking assets and their time to discover new information which they can use profitably. Humanity and nature are not stagnant things.

    In the old USSR they might assert “GOSPLAN knows everything worth knowing.” Gosplan was the central economic planning group. Of course this was false.

    If your statement were correct all IPOs would start out at a single offering price and never change over time.

    • Agree: El Dato
  89. @Chrisnonymous
    @Bill P

    You are posing the question as fast processes vs slow processes, but this is a mistake. Machines perform logical operations at speed. The question is why the mind evolved to do logic slowly, and the answer is that it evolved to do Kahnemann's system 1, not logic. But why? What evolutionary advantage was there in narrative thinking that promoted it over logic? Or is it an artifact of accident?

    Replies: @wren, @El Dato

    My new theory is that twitter/sjw/cancel culture is a virus that has infected the social fast twitch thinking center of people’s brains. It could get in so easily because that area is pre-logic. Like toxoplasmosis or something, this sets people up to be taken advantage of.

    We need some operation warp speed meme vaccine asap.

    Or maybe it’s already too late.

    • Replies: @Chrisnonymous
    @wren

    Please don't use "fast twitch" in this way. The phrase fast twitch comes from the physiology of skeletal muscle, but people often erroneously assume fast twitch means those fibers are recruited first, as in "fast reaction", but actually they are recruited after slow twitch muscle fibers, and in response to overload. This is easy to understand if you consider bodybuilders doing common activities like lifting a pencil. If a bodybuilder's fast twitch fibers were recruited first, lifting a pencil would require all their huge biceps to contract strongly. Walking up stairs would utterly exhausting.

    Replies: @wren

  90. Why Do Smart Guys Love Kahneman’s “Thinking, Fast and Slow”?

    Dopamine hits from bias confirmation.

    • LOL: wren
  91. @Known Fact
    @Buzz Mohawk

    Your OCD/Analysis by Paralysis point is fascinating. I suppose there are disorders that trap people into the other end of the spectrum as well -- mentally shooting from the hip every time, with no analysis.

    Replies: @Muggles

    I suppose there are disorders that trap people into the other end of the spectrum as well — mentally shooting from the hip every time, with no analysis.

    Yes, it’s call impulsive behavior, or thinking.

    It is one of the attributes, it is said, of psychopaths.

  92. The principle referred to here as “Chekhov’s gun” is known to philosophers of language as Grice’s Maxim of Relevance, one of four basic rules for normal conversation.

    https://effectiviology.com/principles-of-effective-communication/#Maxim_of_Relation_be_relevant

    People have the right to expect obedience to it. Its violation or evasion is cheating.

    • Agree: El Dato
    • Thanks: vhrm
    • Replies: @Cortes
    @MSG

    Sometimes that cigar is, guess what, just a prop.

    Or product placement.

    Like the bottle of J&B in centre of the gantry.

  93. @Chrisnonymous
    @Bill P

    You are posing the question as fast processes vs slow processes, but this is a mistake. Machines perform logical operations at speed. The question is why the mind evolved to do logic slowly, and the answer is that it evolved to do Kahnemann's system 1, not logic. But why? What evolutionary advantage was there in narrative thinking that promoted it over logic? Or is it an artifact of accident?

    Replies: @wren, @El Dato

    Evolution will not realize a “logic system” per see. However, one can maybe find that a system built by evolution and adapted to the real world has some characteristics of a logic system “at high level” within limited usage areas. It will not refrain from becoming non-logical if necessities force it to do so.

    First off, you have to realize there is not “a logic”.

    In fact, any “logic” applicable or useful in the real world will not be Aristotelean (aka classical) which are far too idealisticm but will qualities of paraconsistent logics: be able to deal with confusing and contradictory information:

    https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/logic-paraconsistent/

    You will have several logic depending on what you want to do. Fuzzy logic, linear logic, multivalued logic:

    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/226314931_Some_Useful_16-Valued_Logics_How_a_Computer_Network_Should_Think

    “Some Useful 16-Valued Logics: How a Computer Network Should Think”

    And that’s just the beginning. Among others, you have to deal properly with several kinds of negation (for example: weak, strong, default) and not assume insane computational powers that are nowhere to be seen in the real world:

    https://www.scottaaronson.com/papers/philos.pdf : Why Philosophers Should Care About Computational Complexity

    Now you have to also get probabilistic reasoning into this (people reason probabilistically mostly, but will take shortcuts if things get costly to compute) Sadly the union of logic and probability is a not well-studied area. But there is a beginning:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Markov_logic_network

    Let’s just say that “logic” is formalization of certain ways of thinking applicable to situation. The “logic” learnt in school is ass. There is a world out there with actually useful logics.

  94. @The Alarmist
    @eric


    Smart people love the idea of discovering a deeper cause, whether it be gravity explaining the motion of planets or a Freudian explanation of someone’s anxiety.
     
    In ancient times or among primitive cultures, folks thought capricious gods were driving various forces and events. How is that any less a plausible explanation than concepts like Dark Matter?

    Replies: @El Dato, @Anonymous

    Because the gods are capricious and they can thus be used to explain anything, including Trump not getting elected or the wart on our aunt’s behind.

    On the other hand, Dark Matter is very mechanistic and not animated by volition. It just needs to do one thing, one thing only: increase gravitational pull so that the ned model matches actual observations (of there being a ,ot of mass that apparently cannot be detected via electromagnetic interaction). From there, one can posit how it may be detected experimentally. (I hear there is a Axion signal now.)

    Next question.

  95. @vhrm
    Steve I think the baseball guys in the NYT article explain themselves well enough a bit further down: they say that apparently they go with their gut for a lot of their decisions, especially in scouting even when it's against their data and definitely when they're is little data.

    And so this book makes them mindful that their gut can lead to bad decisions (and to some degree how). At least that's what I got out of it.

    Replies: @Jonathan Mason, @ben tillman

    “Going with their gut” = “He’s tall”

  96. @Chrisnonymous
    @Bardon Kaldian

    When dealing with people like Wolfram on the ground of their own field, I think it most likely we don't understand them. I read A New Kind of Science and didn't really get it, but I suspect that's my fault, not Wolfram's.

    Replies: @Bardon Kaldian

    No, this is not his own field. He is brilliant in what really is his own field (cellular automata & similar stuff), but the entire simulation mythology is a myth. It is a paradigm, a sort of diluted Plato’s myth of the cave (simulation paradigm is basically a form of Platonism for dummies) combined with the approach that is, roughly: simulation is explanation, or models are not just the substitute for reality; they are the reality.

    Wolfram’s position is that of a man who could be called Hegel in the reverse. Hegel’s musings on the nature of mathematics caused Gauss to mutter something not very flattering about Hegel’s mental health; I guess he could have said, along with Pauli on other matters, that this was not even wrong. Wolfram went the other way & has started with physics & mathematics, ending in a mathematized philosophy. That could be interesting- whether one agrees with strong computational approach or not – if it has given results, testable predictions or at least a complete description of numerous already explained or “traditionally described” phenomena.

    As yet, nothing new in “explanation” of physical world came out of it. It is sterility which sinks Wolfram’s approach more than anything else. Its chief weakness is not that it is limited (and it is); that it is arbitrary in its computationalism (and it is); that it is, basically, old wine in new bottles (Zuse & other fellows- but, there is nothing wrong in using old stuff to create something new, even via interpretation). His position is that of a subjectivist who has vastly expanded his area of expertise to epistemology, physics, whatnot …- without explanatory & predictive power.

  97. “Yet, according to Kahneman, it is irrational for you to worry about real-world concerns like these. He has stipulated that the sample is random and the mean is 100, so that’s all you need to know.”

    Hm..don’t worry about what the real world (or your own eyes) are telling you, go by what you’re suppose to know. This skipped CD sounds very similar. Did Kahneman know or ever meet Malcolm Gladwell?

    “In 2009, Tejada pleaded guilty to perjuring himself to Congress regarding steroids.”

    Jose Canseco’s 2005 book Juiced makes mention that Tejada was a likely PED candidate. Canseco in fact devotes a few paragraphs specifically to Tejada.

  98. @MSG
    The principle referred to here as "Chekhov's gun" is known to philosophers of language as Grice's Maxim of Relevance, one of four basic rules for normal conversation.

    https://effectiviology.com/principles-of-effective-communication/#Maxim_of_Relation_be_relevant

    People have the right to expect obedience to it. Its violation or evasion is cheating.

    Replies: @Cortes

    Sometimes that cigar is, guess what, just a prop.

    Or product placement.

    Like the bottle of J&B in centre of the gantry.

  99. @Bill P
    @candid_observer


    The point isn’t whether Kahneman is “tricking” us into coming to the wrong conclusion in cases like Linda the bank teller. It is that we seem to have an extraordinary and powerful attraction to thinking in terms of representativeness rather than of pure logic. In this sense, Kahneman’s results might be understood as demonstrating just how easy it is for people to be tricked in this particular way — how much more inclined we are on average to leap to the intuitive, but wrong, conclusion rather than the logical one.
     
    There's a good reason for that. Reasoning is slow, inefficient and often clumsy. If you're playing a sport and your opponent has to stop to think about something, nine times out of ten you've got him beat. The same applies in many intellectual tasks such as law. The lawyer who knows stuff will usually beat the one who has to figure it out even if their IQ is comparable.

    What Kahneman is writing about is the distinction between reasoning and learned response. Ideally, in a competitive environment reasoning should be one's last resort. Athletes are often told not to "overthink" and to use "muscle memory." Sounds dumb, but it's good advice (even though "muscle memory" is a misleading term). In fact, the main benefit of reasoning is to prevent the reasoner from having to use reason for the same task the next time. It is something one uses in novel situations.

    So what Kahneman is doing to trick people is dressing up novel situations as routine ones. Novel situations occur in day-to-day life, but not in the contexts Kahneman presents. For most people, novel situations are mainly social. Abstract reasoning tasks involving numbers or formal logic rarely present themselves. However, reasoning about other people's behavior and thoughts occupies enormous bandwidth.

    This is why nerds like Kahneman's book: it makes them feel good about themselves by leaving out the majority of reasoning while emphasizing the kind they happen to be relatively good at. I'd go so far as to say that Kahneman is pulling a fast one on the nerds. He's disguising one of their shortcomings as a superior trait to flatter them and get them to buy his book. Pretty clever.

    Say we presented a bunch of quant types with Jane Austen-like social quandaries. Most of them would be confused. If forced to face these in real life, many would feel great distress, and probably show it physiologically. It would make a funny skit.

    Kahneman isn't coming up with anything new at all here. His distinction between "fast" and "slow" thinking is facile and doesn't explain the real difference between the two. Even worse, it muddies the waters.

    Replies: @vhrm, @Reg Cæsar, @Known Fact, @Chrisnonymous, @wren, @El Dato

    In fact, the main benefit of reasoning is to prevent the reasoner from having to use reason for the same task the next time. It is something one uses in novel situations.

    There is actually a computational model for this out there, from the 50s. It’s roughly about this:

    – perform painstaking problem space search if you don’t know what to do (N.B: this “search” may involve logic aka. the “search” is “theorem proving”, but probably does not)
    – once you found a solution and could apply it successfully, remember it for next time so that you skip search (aka “chunking”)

    The goal explicitly was to compare the performance of a system built according to this model against human performance.

    Several implementations exist, but it never became big & famous.

    Soar (cognitive architecture)

    It’s from way before even the first big enthusiasm for Neural Networks, which happened in the 80s.

    These assumptions lead to an architecture that supports three levels of processing. At the lowest level, is bottom-up, parallel, and automatic processing. The next level is the deliberative level, where knowledge from the first level is used to propose, select, and apply a single action. These two levels implement fast, skilled behavior, and roughly correspond to Kahneman’s System 1 processing level. More complex behavior arises automatically when knowledge is incomplete or uncertain, through a third level of processing using substates, roughly corresponding to System 2.

  100. @wren
    @Anon 2

    I think that Thomas Sowell said that the word "slave" came from the word "Slav," but I don't think he is correct about that.

    Anyway, it's nice to see the Slavs clean up in the court I suppose.

    Replies: @Anon 2

    It’s been noted that only the Americans are afraid of blacks, and of
    black women specifically. Fear of blacks (and fear of being
    called racist) is probably the dominant fear in the U.S. The
    first thing that black women notice (with surprise) when they visit the
    European continent is, “They’re not afraid of us here.”
    Europeans have thousands of years of experience in dealing
    with blacks, so they are race realists by definition.

    • Replies: @Muggles
    @Anon 2


    “They’re not afraid of us here.”
    Europeans have thousands of years of experience in dealing
    with blacks, so they are race realists by definition.
     
    People who live in Florida are not afraid of grizzly bears. People who live in Alaska are.

    Europeans have very little experience "dealing with blacks" other than as in a few rare cases, slaves. There were no communities of Africans living in Europe (black Africans) and over the centuries very few family units lived there.

    Most Americans are not afraid of blacks. Europeans may have regarded them as exotic people in the past but now have the experience of larger communities of them. Especially young males.

    Americans who regularly interact with blacks have acquired some practical knowledge usually. I would say it is more an age, economic and cultural matter. While I am only speculating, I suspect that blacks probably fear being around large groups of (only) whites more than the reverse.
  101. Smart people don’t love that book, or its philosophies.

    For smart people, there are only two types of thinking-short term and long term.

    What typically makes someone successful is the ability to do both of these at the same time, IE to conceptualize an overall(long term) strategy based on enduring trends, but also to “live in the moment” (ie short term) so that you can improvise your way through errors, randomness, and unpredictability.

    The only thing reading “management” books have taught me is that most people have no conscious idea of what they are doing, or why it works.

    • Replies: @vhrm
    @allahu akbar


    The only thing reading “management” books have taught me is that most people have no conscious idea of what they are doing, or why it works.
     
    This reminds me that i also read a quite compelling "anti-management book" management book
    saying just that. " The Halo Effect"

    https://www.amazon.com/Halo-Effect-Business-Delusions-Managers-ebook/dp/B000NY128M/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=halo+effect&qid=1614543356&sr=8-1

    Rosenzweig identifies nine popular business delusions. Among them:

    The Delusion of Absolute Performance: Company performance is relative to competition, not absolute, which is why following a formula can never guarantee results. Success comes from doing things better than rivals, which means that managers have to take risks.


    The Delusion of Rigorous Research: Many bestselling authors praise themselves for the vast amount of data they have gathered, but forget that if the data aren't valid, it doesn't matter how much was gathered or how sophisticated the research methods appear to be. They trick the reader by substituting sizzle for substance.


    The Delusion of Single Explanations: Many studies show that a particular factor, such as corporate culture or social responsibility or customer focus, leads to improved performance. But since many of these factors are highly correlated, the effect of each one is usually less than suggested.

     

    The titular "Halo Effect" is what you described: when a company is surging or dominant whatever that company is doing (or says it's doing) is considered great and visionary and books are published. 3 years later, while still doing exactly the same things the company crashes and those same things get trashed in the business press or ignored. But the business books and "studies" written in the glory phase persist.

    Replies: @kpkinsunnyphiladelphia

  102. @utu
    @anon

    Too many people are suffering from the Bayesian woo. Just a buzzword for Yudkowsky crowd.

    Replies: @very old statistician

    Among the good things I learned in 2020, I learned that a few people I thought were one in a million intelligent were nowhere near that, they were just people who had read a lot of books and who regurgitated some really smart stuff.

    That being said, I never thought of poor Yudkowsky as being intelligent —- the poor little fellow has always been one of those obvious auto-didacts who, in long evening hours under the scholarly lamp in the library, read a little too much on one subject —- in poor Yudkowsky’s case, the set of recreational logical puzzles that he calls Bayesianism —- and like that friend of the poor anvil salesman in the Music Man, who did not know the territory (Henry Hill, for those of you who do not understand the USA) —- he thought — here, here is the scam I am gonna be able to run for all it is worth until my dying day.

    I do not keep up with Yudkowsky, but there are a few people who are self-styled “probabalists” or “logicians” who blocked me after I asked them why they had been so so wrong about the uselessness and harms of masks and the comparative success of Sweden and Florida. OF COURSE if the evildoers who are behind the current epidemic events want to reduce the human population by half or more, the foolish “probabalists” and “logicians” will come out looking pretty smart, because they were SO SO WORRIED—— but that will just be the chance allocation between the fact that, yes there are powers out there who want children to be masked all day so that half or more of them suffer greatly from headaches and other ills that people who are forced by evildoers to wear masks suffer from (all to protect old people with three comorbidities from dying a couple of short years earlier than they would otherwise — at best) …. and the fact that here and now, tonight, I am saying that the “probabalists” and “logicians” who, a year or so ago, when I read their twitter feed every day because it was interesting, were never one in a million. One in a hundred at best. And one in a hundred is pretty bad.

    • Replies: @vhrm
    @very old statistician

    idk who these people are you're talking about, but the reaction to Covid, especially in the US / western world has been eye opening though I try not to think about it too hard.

    On the up side the virus sequencing, testing and vaccine development effort was amazing. Nearly sci-fi compared to even 10 years ago.

    OTOH the circus with shutdowns and lockdowns showed seams of totalitarianism in our government and demand for it in the population that I still can't believe. Fear really affected people in scary ways. I wonder if there will be any thoughtful scholarship on that in the coming years. Just to drive this message totally off a cliff: this is probably the same kind of dynamics that lead to genocides and ethnic cleansings...

  103. Anonymous[270] • Disclaimer says:
    @Chrisnonymous
    I have never understood Steve's issue with Kahneman. His ideas seem sound and reasonable to me.

    Replies: @Anonymous

    Steve is practical and entirely non-academic. Kahneman is entirely academic and cannot care less about practicality of his own output. It’s all pseudo-profound bullshit with Kahneman: Making the claim that people are easily fooled to sound new and interesting despite the idea been universally accepted based by just about everyone based on daily life experiences.

  104. @Altai

    Or is Kahneman’s extremely nerdish way of thinking part of the appeal?
     
    It's part of the appeal because the book's popularity is likely not because it asks you to think for yourself but to give over through obscurantism to the end verdict of the guru who wrote it. Middle manager types love this and other books by like it because the less you understand it, the more you're convinced by the end verdict and that it must be right because you didn't quite follow how it got to the conclusion.

    It's only so fitting that an economist wrote it since the field since the Chicago school has been to invent a world only these gurus can guide you through.

    A bit like how one of Bitcoin's biggest strengths is the absence of it's creator, giving it an aura of a thing that was discovered rather than created or which has current developers. Contrast with Ethereum whose autistic creator is very much front and centre and much of the mystique (And market cap) escapes despite apparently being better at functioning as an actual cryptocurrency (Theoretically what gives Bitcoin any value) than Bitcoin.

    Replies: @Dieter Kief, @Oscar Peterson, @Kratoklastes

    All part of the (Jewish) guru phenomenon and the echo chamber effect of one of them, given a platform by another of them, to tell us how brilliant and insightful a third one of them is.

    The tribe in action. This is how the goy baseball stat guy in the book Moneyball (and, in fact, in reality) becomes, in the movie, a geeky little Jew-like creature.

  105. @RichardTaylor
    Smart men are more likely to be into abstract systems and love generating ideas. A subset get into philosophy and "thinking about thinking".

    Most of it is a waste of time. Almost all philosophy is a waste of time. Maybe that's the reason modern science finally starting making so much progress: it put endless "really smart" discussions aside and focused on demonstration, experiment, measurement, etc. That is, a lot hard, tedious work that's more like accounting than glorious thought experiments that make a fella get the awesome feels.

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B085SSXY45/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i0

    Replies: @Muggles, @Oscar Peterson

    Almost all philosophy is a waste of time.

    Yeah, I guess this is how we end up with positivism and analytic philosophy. Though there is still philosophy that examines human interactions, e.g., political philosophy. At some point, it fades into psychology and then, I suppose, brain science, though “the mind” is still evidently a mystery.

    Everything else is either done better by experimentation and empirical observation or much more satisfying when approached via religion.

    • Agree: Yojimbo/Zatoichi
  106. @wren
    Sometimes I think culture sits on top of all of this, especially at the fast thinking level. When I watch Japanese people interact with each other or to some situation and then compare them to Japanese Americans, I see how thinking is affected by culture.

    I also think twitter/sjw/cancel culture is starting to do something similar to Americans. Conversations with coworkers show me that lots of strange stuff is getting ingrained at the fast thinking level because people need to stay employed. At some level they are starting to get dumber though.

    Maybe Steve can write a less Aspergery book that starts with real-world mistakes that people commonly make because their fast twitch thinking has been contaminated by twitter/sjw etc. culture. Maybe their slow thinking too, because ideas are getting cancelled too.

    Replies: @vhrm

    Sometimes I think culture sits on top of all of this, especially at the fast thinking level. When I watch Japanese people interact with each other or to some situation and then compare them to Japanese Americans, I see how thinking is affected by culture.

    i’d love to hear some examples or expansion on this.

    To me there’s no question that culture has an impact. i mean just look at things even within subcultures in the US e.g. academia vs business . Or even “startup business” vs “highly optimized mature business” in one case you just wing it half the time, in the other if your projection is wrong by more than 0.3% the company goes out of business. Or level of precision in planning / designing / building some random software vs a high rise building vs airliner vs nuclear reactor.

    • Replies: @wren
    @vhrm


    i’d love to hear some examples or expansion on this.
     
    To generalize, and of course imho, from a young age there is a huge oppressive (and beautiful) Japanese culture smothering everything that informs people's reactions and thinking right off the bat. Who is above or below whom, who owes whom what, what is the proper protocol in this precise, exact situation in this particular season, etc, etc., etc. I last lived there over 20 years ago, and of course I could avoid it (and was expected to avoid it) not being Japanese. But even gaijin start to feel that stuff after being there for a while. I vaguely remember once going to a traditional style Japanese restaurant with some friends who were visiting from the US. Somehow one of our party had forgotten to take off their shoes and was traipsing all over the tatami in his wet outdoor shoes. Horrors!!! Catastrophe!!! My shame was instantaneous and heart-felt. How could I have allowed such a thing without noticing! He didn't really care so much. "Oops! No one told me I had to!"

    I feel bad when I see Japanese people visit the US, and they have to spend all of their time and money getting souvenirs for all of their friends and acquaintances back home. And if they can't do that they feel terrible. Maybe it is not as bad as it used to be though.

    In the US cultural norms and taboos are changing, and we are starting to see something similar, imo. Like if someone called someone a ni**er or someone else a fa**ot or something, those might have been rude fighting words in the past, but now seem to be the worst thing ever. Like wearing wet shoes on tatami. People's reactions are immediate. To a lesser extent, discussing iSteve-type stuff in public is also very quickly frowned on by many wearing their fast thinking on their sleeves, and you might find yourself outed on social media or something, and soon out of a job. Imagine if some comedian from the 70's got in a time machine and tried out his shtick today. Very problematic!

    Like being a gaijin in Japan, being ASD in America might provide some relief.

    I need an official ASD card on a lanyard around my neck.

    Replies: @vhrm

  107. How many popular intellectual books meet the following criteria:
    1 The author is fundamentally wrong about his own premise or fails to prove it.
    2 None or almost none of the mass media criticism of the book caught this.
    3 The author depends on tortured logic, hypotheticals, and non-representative incidents, where frequently attested but politically incorrect data would probably be more useful.
    Special iSteve bonus round:
    4 The same author and/or premise eventually becomes politically incorrect and is canceled or summarily rejected by people who never read it.

  108. @Known Fact
    @Bill P


    Abstract reasoning tasks involving numbers or formal logic rarely present themselves.
     
    Would playing the ponies qualify?

    Before every race you face a basic fast/slow question: Do you
    a) Play your initial hunch or gut feeling?
    b) Play your handy dandy heuristics, based on years of experience (and biases)?
    c) Dive in deep and painstakingly analyze the race line-by-line from scratch?

    There's also d) Throw in that crazy pick from your wife, friend or mother-in-law who bets the horses once every five years

    Replies: @vhrm

    A couple of months back i read about some dude who made 9 figures in the 80s and 90s by applying statistical analysis to horse racing in Hong Kong. That kind of opportunity is likely long gone, but it’s pretty impressive. That’s definitely an example of applying probability and large numbers to exploit people’s guts.

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2018-05-03/the-gambler-who-cracked-the-horse-racing-code

    There’s also this “models vs experts” whitepaper in the context of an investment advisors that i find is relatively informative.
    https://alphaarchitect.com/2014/05/13/behavioral-finance-and-investing-are-you-trying-too-hard/

    In part it argues that one reason why the “value” and “momentum” anomalies in stock investing persist even though they are known (and thus technically should be arbitraged out of existence) is because of persistent psychological features of investment managers (and/or their clients).

    • Replies: @Known Fact
    @vhrm

    Thanks vhrm! Looking forward to digging in on these. I've been doing nicely with Hong Kong but we only get it here once a week, at midnight.

  109. (man, some of you guys are smart / learned. i feel like it would take weeks if not months to chew through all the concepts and references on computation, decision making and philosophy thrown up in this thread so far)

  110. @Jonathan Mason
    @Rob

    John might be an anatomist or pathologist or stem cell scientist. The human heads might be those of aborted fetuses. He might be a grave robber, or a student mortician. We can't just jump to the conclusion that John is a serial killer.

    Replies: @Rob

    You, sir, are frustratingly correct!

  111. @Buzz Mohawk

    Acts of human cognition can be pictured as falling along a continuum from intuition (which is fast and fun) to logic (which is slow and tiring). Snap judgments work well enough much of the time, especially by avoiding paralysis through analysis.
     
    Steve here has described the difference between normal, human thought and that of a sufferer of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.

    OCD can really be described as "paralysis through analysis."

    If you truly have an OCD brain or whatever, you find it difficult to mentally work things out on the continuum, which runs from "intuition (which is fast and fun) to logic (which is slow and tiring)." Every, single, little thing you do is subject to logical analysis and re-analysis and correction, ad infinitum.

    These little things can be as small as setting a book down on a desk, making sure it isn't too close to the edge and won't fall off. Or checking to make sure you aren't bumping into the door frame as you walk into a room. And on, and on, forever.

    It can also mean checking and correcting and deleting and re-writing a comment on a blog -- when it really isn't necessary.

    Let's just say that it is extremely important to distinguish between thinking fast and thinking slow, to do one or the other at the appropriate time. When you can't, you have a debilitating mental illness. This is a very important subject that perhaps most "normal" people don't appreciate.

    Replies: @Known Fact, @nebulafox

    >It can also mean checking and correcting and deleting and re-writing a comment on a blog — when it really isn’t necessary.

    I’ve done this, too.

    My behavior doesn’t match your examples perfectly-different diagnosis-but the “paralysis through analysis” is something I understand all too well. I can’t help but wonder if one factor is just the level of stimuli modern life has.

  112. Now, this may sound to you and me like a debate over whether the glass is part full or part empty, but Kahneman’s intellect is more powerful than supple.

    For example, here’s one of Kahneman’s first brain twisters:

    The mean I.Q. of the population of eighth-graders in a city is known to be 100. You have selected a random sample of 50 children for a study of educational achievement. The first child tested has an I.Q. of 150. What do you expect the mean I.Q. to be for the whole sample?

    We discussed that here:

    https://www.unz.com/isteve/michael-lewiss-upcoming-book-the-undoing-project/#comment-1662082

  113. Did not see this earlier. Apparently Anglo australian Rohan Browning flirts with isteve fame by running a wind assisted 9.96 over 100m.

    https://www.sportingnews.com/au/athletics/news/rohan-browning-100-metre-run-patrick-johnson-athletes-tokyo-olympics/1xw2huglprivg1jedulr042tbb

  114. Anonymous[270] • Disclaimer says:
    @The Alarmist
    @eric


    Smart people love the idea of discovering a deeper cause, whether it be gravity explaining the motion of planets or a Freudian explanation of someone’s anxiety.
     
    In ancient times or among primitive cultures, folks thought capricious gods were driving various forces and events. How is that any less a plausible explanation than concepts like Dark Matter?

    Replies: @El Dato, @Anonymous

    The idea of Dark Matter is actually refreshingly honest. Instead of inventing all kinds of imaginary things/gods, it basically states “we tried out best to explain everything we are able to see, and yet, the only way we can make the ends meet is to introduce a fudge factor that accounts for a huge amount of something we cannot detect or explain; for the time being, it’s the best we can do”.

    If other fields were always this honest about their limitations, there would be a lot less bullshit permeating minds.

  115. @vhrm
    @wren


    Sometimes I think culture sits on top of all of this, especially at the fast thinking level. When I watch Japanese people interact with each other or to some situation and then compare them to Japanese Americans, I see how thinking is affected by culture.
     
    i'd love to hear some examples or expansion on this.

    To me there's no question that culture has an impact. i mean just look at things even within subcultures in the US e.g. academia vs business . Or even "startup business" vs "highly optimized mature business" in one case you just wing it half the time, in the other if your projection is wrong by more than 0.3% the company goes out of business. Or level of precision in planning / designing / building some random software vs a high rise building vs airliner vs nuclear reactor.

    Replies: @wren

    i’d love to hear some examples or expansion on this.

    To generalize, and of course imho, from a young age there is a huge oppressive (and beautiful) Japanese culture smothering everything that informs people’s reactions and thinking right off the bat. Who is above or below whom, who owes whom what, what is the proper protocol in this precise, exact situation in this particular season, etc, etc., etc. I last lived there over 20 years ago, and of course I could avoid it (and was expected to avoid it) not being Japanese. But even gaijin start to feel that stuff after being there for a while. I vaguely remember once going to a traditional style Japanese restaurant with some friends who were visiting from the US. Somehow one of our party had forgotten to take off their shoes and was traipsing all over the tatami in his wet outdoor shoes. Horrors!!! Catastrophe!!! My shame was instantaneous and heart-felt. How could I have allowed such a thing without noticing! He didn’t really care so much. “Oops! No one told me I had to!”

    I feel bad when I see Japanese people visit the US, and they have to spend all of their time and money getting souvenirs for all of their friends and acquaintances back home. And if they can’t do that they feel terrible. Maybe it is not as bad as it used to be though.

    In the US cultural norms and taboos are changing, and we are starting to see something similar, imo. Like if someone called someone a ni**er or someone else a fa**ot or something, those might have been rude fighting words in the past, but now seem to be the worst thing ever. Like wearing wet shoes on tatami. People’s reactions are immediate. To a lesser extent, discussing iSteve-type stuff in public is also very quickly frowned on by many wearing their fast thinking on their sleeves, and you might find yourself outed on social media or something, and soon out of a job. Imagine if some comedian from the 70’s got in a time machine and tried out his shtick today. Very problematic!

    Like being a gaijin in Japan, being ASD in America might provide some relief.

    I need an official ASD card on a lanyard around my neck.

    • Replies: @vhrm
    @wren

    Ah, i see what you mean. I guess "manners" IS an example of this system 1 thinking, but i think that's fine. I don't want to have to ponder how i should behave in public from scratch every time, though i fully agree w/ you that i like the simpler American (and specifically Nor Cal slacker easy mode rules) over even NYC, let alone more complex high society or historical ones.


    The twitter sensitivity and SJW stuff... i think goes deeper. The knee jerk reaction certainly qualifies, but these people have been defending the stuff in think piece essays, books and whole university departments and education schools. That's all very "system 2" deliberate slow stuff.

    Replies: @wren

  116. @wren
    @Chrisnonymous

    My new theory is that twitter/sjw/cancel culture is a virus that has infected the social fast twitch thinking center of people's brains. It could get in so easily because that area is pre-logic. Like toxoplasmosis or something, this sets people up to be taken advantage of.

    We need some operation warp speed meme vaccine asap.

    Or maybe it's already too late.

    Replies: @Chrisnonymous

    Please don’t use “fast twitch” in this way. The phrase fast twitch comes from the physiology of skeletal muscle, but people often erroneously assume fast twitch means those fibers are recruited first, as in “fast reaction”, but actually they are recruited after slow twitch muscle fibers, and in response to overload. This is easy to understand if you consider bodybuilders doing common activities like lifting a pencil. If a bodybuilder’s fast twitch fibers were recruited first, lifting a pencil would require all their huge biceps to contract strongly. Walking up stairs would utterly exhausting.

    • Replies: @wren
    @Chrisnonymous

    Well, auto response thinking. Our intuition is being driven by someone else. Maybe that is what Kahneman was talking about in the first place.

    I may have lost track of the original post.

  117. @wren
    @vhrm


    i’d love to hear some examples or expansion on this.
     
    To generalize, and of course imho, from a young age there is a huge oppressive (and beautiful) Japanese culture smothering everything that informs people's reactions and thinking right off the bat. Who is above or below whom, who owes whom what, what is the proper protocol in this precise, exact situation in this particular season, etc, etc., etc. I last lived there over 20 years ago, and of course I could avoid it (and was expected to avoid it) not being Japanese. But even gaijin start to feel that stuff after being there for a while. I vaguely remember once going to a traditional style Japanese restaurant with some friends who were visiting from the US. Somehow one of our party had forgotten to take off their shoes and was traipsing all over the tatami in his wet outdoor shoes. Horrors!!! Catastrophe!!! My shame was instantaneous and heart-felt. How could I have allowed such a thing without noticing! He didn't really care so much. "Oops! No one told me I had to!"

    I feel bad when I see Japanese people visit the US, and they have to spend all of their time and money getting souvenirs for all of their friends and acquaintances back home. And if they can't do that they feel terrible. Maybe it is not as bad as it used to be though.

    In the US cultural norms and taboos are changing, and we are starting to see something similar, imo. Like if someone called someone a ni**er or someone else a fa**ot or something, those might have been rude fighting words in the past, but now seem to be the worst thing ever. Like wearing wet shoes on tatami. People's reactions are immediate. To a lesser extent, discussing iSteve-type stuff in public is also very quickly frowned on by many wearing their fast thinking on their sleeves, and you might find yourself outed on social media or something, and soon out of a job. Imagine if some comedian from the 70's got in a time machine and tried out his shtick today. Very problematic!

    Like being a gaijin in Japan, being ASD in America might provide some relief.

    I need an official ASD card on a lanyard around my neck.

    Replies: @vhrm

    Ah, i see what you mean. I guess “manners” IS an example of this system 1 thinking, but i think that’s fine. I don’t want to have to ponder how i should behave in public from scratch every time, though i fully agree w/ you that i like the simpler American (and specifically Nor Cal slacker easy mode rules) over even NYC, let alone more complex high society or historical ones.

    The twitter sensitivity and SJW stuff… i think goes deeper. The knee jerk reaction certainly qualifies, but these people have been defending the stuff in think piece essays, books and whole university departments and education schools. That’s all very “system 2” deliberate slow stuff.

    • Replies: @wren
    @vhrm

    Maybe if they can get people to behave that way automatically without thinking they know that they then have them all the way due to cognitive dissonance, etc. Classical persuasion.

    Once you put your gender pronouns down somewhere when asked you are signing your name to the whole program.

  118. @vhrm
    @wren

    Ah, i see what you mean. I guess "manners" IS an example of this system 1 thinking, but i think that's fine. I don't want to have to ponder how i should behave in public from scratch every time, though i fully agree w/ you that i like the simpler American (and specifically Nor Cal slacker easy mode rules) over even NYC, let alone more complex high society or historical ones.


    The twitter sensitivity and SJW stuff... i think goes deeper. The knee jerk reaction certainly qualifies, but these people have been defending the stuff in think piece essays, books and whole university departments and education schools. That's all very "system 2" deliberate slow stuff.

    Replies: @wren

    Maybe if they can get people to behave that way automatically without thinking they know that they then have them all the way due to cognitive dissonance, etc. Classical persuasion.

    Once you put your gender pronouns down somewhere when asked you are signing your name to the whole program.

  119. @Chrisnonymous
    @wren

    Please don't use "fast twitch" in this way. The phrase fast twitch comes from the physiology of skeletal muscle, but people often erroneously assume fast twitch means those fibers are recruited first, as in "fast reaction", but actually they are recruited after slow twitch muscle fibers, and in response to overload. This is easy to understand if you consider bodybuilders doing common activities like lifting a pencil. If a bodybuilder's fast twitch fibers were recruited first, lifting a pencil would require all their huge biceps to contract strongly. Walking up stairs would utterly exhausting.

    Replies: @wren

    Well, auto response thinking. Our intuition is being driven by someone else. Maybe that is what Kahneman was talking about in the first place.

    I may have lost track of the original post.

  120. @vhrm
    @Known Fact

    A couple of months back i read about some dude who made 9 figures in the 80s and 90s by applying statistical analysis to horse racing in Hong Kong. That kind of opportunity is likely long gone, but it's pretty impressive. That's definitely an example of applying probability and large numbers to exploit people's guts.

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2018-05-03/the-gambler-who-cracked-the-horse-racing-code


    There's also this "models vs experts" whitepaper in the context of an investment advisors that i find is relatively informative.
    https://alphaarchitect.com/2014/05/13/behavioral-finance-and-investing-are-you-trying-too-hard/

    In part it argues that one reason why the "value" and "momentum" anomalies in stock investing persist even though they are known (and thus technically should be arbitraged out of existence) is because of persistent psychological features of investment managers (and/or their clients).

    Replies: @Known Fact

    Thanks vhrm! Looking forward to digging in on these. I’ve been doing nicely with Hong Kong but we only get it here once a week, at midnight.

  121. @Happy Tapir
    @vhrm

    Thanks. I think I get it now. Steve was saying he would assume something was wrong with the test if the first score he saw was 150, because of the story with the afct between 1976 and 1980. Do you guys know why that happened? I think from my reading, though of course they understate it, was that the 1976 assumed each cohort would have the same population average iq as recruits in the 1950s. Of course not, we had had the 1965 hart cellar act and greater integration since that time. Which means that they arbitrarily set the average iq to 100 in the 1976 test group and assumed that 100 was the same as the 1950s 100. Very different 100s. Very different. The difference caused was so great that the sergeants on the ground were able to notice it!

    Replies: @res

    This page has two good links regarding the ASVAB misnorming.
    https://www.cna.org/pop-rep/1998/html/2-afqt.html#foot-32

    The first is a 218 page technical deep dive into what happened and quantification of the effects.

    A Reexamination of the Normalization of Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) Forms 6, 7, 6E, and 7E
    https://apps.dtic.mil/sti/citations/ADA094684

    They give a good summary on page 8/11, but too many OCR errors to excerpt here (raw cut and paste after the MORE).

    The second is a 200 page book.

    Low-Aptitude Men in the Military: Who Profits, Who Pays?
    https://psycnet.apa.org/record/1991-98897-000

    I think this editorial review on Amazon gives a flavor (also see the abstract at the link above).

    “This book offers compelling evidence that efforts, although well-intended, to use the services as social welfare agents of change were misguided efforts of convenience. This excellent book will help you appreciate these new projections.”-Military Review

    This book review (full text on LibGen and Sci-Hub) gives more detail:
    https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0095327X9201900110

    [MORE]

    The findings of our study are summarized as follows:

    * The current normalization of ASVAB is too easyl ‘it ovenestimates the mental ability of low aptitude recruaits 15 to 17 percentiles. (For example, in figure I re sho1
    that a raw score of 31 converts to the 31st percentile . ”
    the current DoD norms but to only the 16th percentile by
    our norms.)
    * Because the normalization has been incorrect, DoD reports
    have overstated the mental aptitude-of recruits since
    January 1976. For the past 3 years, approximately 25 to
    30 percent of all DOD accessions have been in mental
    category IV (the lowest acceptable category) rather than
    the 5 to 6 percent reported by DOD (see figure I).
    * Although the mental quality of recruits enlisted since
    1976 is’lower than indicated by DoD reports, it is
    similar to that during the peak of the Vietnam War and
    better than that during the Korean War (see figure II).
    0 The analytical technique of sample stratification often
    used in the normalization of military aptitude tests will
    not, in general, produce correct results.

    • Thanks: vhrm
  122. would there be a market for a less Aspergery book that starts with real-world mistakes that people commonly make? Or is Kahneman’s extremely nerdish way of thinking part of the appeal? Do nerds love reading about how the super-nerd tricks the normies into revealing how stupid they are?

    As others have commented, books like these are largely aimed at midwits to drive the rationale for the economic policies of the moment. And the real Aspergery stuff came before, based on my reading of economics blogs for a decade or two now.

    The fashionable rationale 70-80 years ago was that just as math and science had revolutionized society with new technology like electricity or the motor car, macroeconometric modeling would create math models of the economy that actually worked and justified the massive increases in government power of the time.

    When those models and policies failed with the stagflation of the ’70s, they turned to the “rational expectations” models of the Chicago School, still math-driven but more in the use of simpler stuff like game theory, that Reagan and Clinton used to push devolving government power by cutting taxes, opening up to NAFTA, and so on. While this worked much better, it is obviously not without its flaws, so we now have the behavioral economics justifications for submitting to government power again, “See, the yokels can’t think straight, we need ivy-educated bureaucrats making six figures like me to tell them what to do!”

    This book falls in with that camp, so really it’s a rebellion against the even more aspergery economics movements of the past, but has to be couched in aspergery terms and methods to even get published and because their evidence is not that compelling. If you want real evidence, look at 2002 Nobel-winner Vernon Smith’s “experimental economics”, which is resolutely ignored by the media as its results usually point in the other direction.

    • Thanks: vhrm
  123. @allahu akbar
    Smart people don't love that book, or its philosophies.

    For smart people, there are only two types of thinking-short term and long term.

    What typically makes someone successful is the ability to do both of these at the same time, IE to conceptualize an overall(long term) strategy based on enduring trends, but also to "live in the moment" (ie short term) so that you can improvise your way through errors, randomness, and unpredictability.

    The only thing reading "management" books have taught me is that most people have no conscious idea of what they are doing, or why it works.

    Replies: @vhrm

    The only thing reading “management” books have taught me is that most people have no conscious idea of what they are doing, or why it works.

    This reminds me that i also read a quite compelling “anti-management book” management book
    saying just that. ” The Halo Effect”

    Rosenzweig identifies nine popular business delusions. Among them:

    The Delusion of Absolute Performance: Company performance is relative to competition, not absolute, which is why following a formula can never guarantee results. Success comes from doing things better than rivals, which means that managers have to take risks.

    The Delusion of Rigorous Research: Many bestselling authors praise themselves for the vast amount of data they have gathered, but forget that if the data aren’t valid, it doesn’t matter how much was gathered or how sophisticated the research methods appear to be. They trick the reader by substituting sizzle for substance.

    The Delusion of Single Explanations: Many studies show that a particular factor, such as corporate culture or social responsibility or customer focus, leads to improved performance. But since many of these factors are highly correlated, the effect of each one is usually less than suggested.

    The titular “Halo Effect” is what you described: when a company is surging or dominant whatever that company is doing (or says it’s doing) is considered great and visionary and books are published. 3 years later, while still doing exactly the same things the company crashes and those same things get trashed in the business press or ignored. But the business books and “studies” written in the glory phase persist.

    • Replies: @kpkinsunnyphiladelphia
    @vhrm

    A very smart business guy I worked for years ago told me something that I will always remember.

    "Building a business for the long term is great, but it's better to have one REALLY good idea and get rich fast before it all fizzles."

  124. @very old statistician
    @utu

    Among the good things I learned in 2020, I learned that a few people I thought were one in a million intelligent were nowhere near that, they were just people who had read a lot of books and who regurgitated some really smart stuff.

    That being said, I never thought of poor Yudkowsky as being intelligent ---- the poor little fellow has always been one of those obvious auto-didacts who, in long evening hours under the scholarly lamp in the library, read a little too much on one subject ---- in poor Yudkowsky's case, the set of recreational logical puzzles that he calls Bayesianism ---- and like that friend of the poor anvil salesman in the Music Man, who did not know the territory (Henry Hill, for those of you who do not understand the USA) ---- he thought --- here, here is the scam I am gonna be able to run for all it is worth until my dying day.

    I do not keep up with Yudkowsky, but there are a few people who are self-styled "probabalists" or "logicians" who blocked me after I asked them why they had been so so wrong about the uselessness and harms of masks and the comparative success of Sweden and Florida. OF COURSE if the evildoers who are behind the current epidemic events want to reduce the human population by half or more, the foolish "probabalists" and "logicians" will come out looking pretty smart, because they were SO SO WORRIED------ but that will just be the chance allocation between the fact that, yes there are powers out there who want children to be masked all day so that half or more of them suffer greatly from headaches and other ills that people who are forced by evildoers to wear masks suffer from (all to protect old people with three comorbidities from dying a couple of short years earlier than they would otherwise --- at best) .... and the fact that here and now, tonight, I am saying that the "probabalists" and "logicians" who, a year or so ago, when I read their twitter feed every day because it was interesting, were never one in a million. One in a hundred at best. And one in a hundred is pretty bad.

    Replies: @vhrm

    idk who these people are you’re talking about, but the reaction to Covid, especially in the US / western world has been eye opening though I try not to think about it too hard.

    On the up side the virus sequencing, testing and vaccine development effort was amazing. Nearly sci-fi compared to even 10 years ago.

    OTOH the circus with shutdowns and lockdowns showed seams of totalitarianism in our government and demand for it in the population that I still can’t believe. Fear really affected people in scary ways. I wonder if there will be any thoughtful scholarship on that in the coming years. Just to drive this message totally off a cliff: this is probably the same kind of dynamics that lead to genocides and ethnic cleansings…

  125. The thing that smart people should notice about Kahnemann is that he used his public profile to argue AGAINST independent review of published material that didn’t invite collaboration from the original researcher[s].

    In other words, he wants dishonest and corrupt researchers to have a say in whether their research is subject to the type of intense scrutiny that help solve the Replication Crisis. (And let’s be clear: only a small proportion of this crisis is due to incompetence and inadvertent error: the vast bulk of it is clear-eyed corruption – particularly in psych, pharma and the intersection of the two).

    Kahnemann wants the Replication Crisis to be stymied.

    In other words, he fears it.

    As he should.

  126. @Intensifier
    A far more interesting author is Nasim Taleb who essentially dismisses a lot of the contrived unreal experiments engaged in by both psychology and Economics "boffins" or "eggheads" in favour of real world "skin in the game" intuition and knowledge.

    I enjoyed Kahneman's book but is it really all that insightful to tell is that quick decisions are not of necessity evidence-based and that the heuristics or rules of thumb we use to quicken decisions may not be accurate?

    No it isn't. Wrap common sense up in jargon and experiment and you have a best seller

    Replies: @kpkinsunnyphiladelphia

    Taleb is great in many ways, but on the other hand he can take risk aversion to the extreme.

    He’s a big mask proponent for one, under the assumption that even if it provides only a modicum of protection it’s worth it because in the end there isn’t much difference otherwise, objectively, from wearing versus NOT wearing one. “Harmless” risk minimization anti-fragility techniques should always be used.

    But he’s not one to concern himself over the social and psychological consequences of doing so. He’s a true objectivist.

    He has also railed against IQ as a measurement of intelligence, especially at the right side of the tail, arguing that value at risk financial engineers have high IQs but have destroyed markets. It’s kind of astonishing that a guy as smart as he is can engage in the logical fallacy of assuming the causality of the whole from the part.

    To his credit, even though he’s a first rate math guy, Taleb had a lot of respect for guys in the options pits who knew what they were doing through rules of thumb and deep understanding of market behavior, even though some probably didn’t get past 1st level Calculus.

    As for Kahneman you gotta give the guy some props, applying “best use of resources” in his own intellectual life.

    Hmmm….where can I make the most money as a Nobel economist? Writing a textbook for undergraduate economic survey courses….or writing a perpetual New York Times best seller I can dash off in a few months, leavening the whole thing with a bit of intellectual legerdemain?

    The question answer itself.

  127. @Altai

    Or is Kahneman’s extremely nerdish way of thinking part of the appeal?
     
    It's part of the appeal because the book's popularity is likely not because it asks you to think for yourself but to give over through obscurantism to the end verdict of the guru who wrote it. Middle manager types love this and other books by like it because the less you understand it, the more you're convinced by the end verdict and that it must be right because you didn't quite follow how it got to the conclusion.

    It's only so fitting that an economist wrote it since the field since the Chicago school has been to invent a world only these gurus can guide you through.

    A bit like how one of Bitcoin's biggest strengths is the absence of it's creator, giving it an aura of a thing that was discovered rather than created or which has current developers. Contrast with Ethereum whose autistic creator is very much front and centre and much of the mystique (And market cap) escapes despite apparently being better at functioning as an actual cryptocurrency (Theoretically what gives Bitcoin any value) than Bitcoin.

    Replies: @Dieter Kief, @Oscar Peterson, @Kratoklastes

    Kahnemann is not a fucking economist.

    He’s a psychocharlatan who arbitraged across to the field – who portrays 2nd year undergraduate pedagogical models as if they are the state-of-the-art.

    Ariely and the rest of the “Gotcha, rationality!” crowd are the same: get 20 WEIRD undergrads, make up some malarkey choice with a payoff differential close to zero, and then pretend to act surprised when people’s choices indicate that they spent fuck-all mental effort making the decision.

    That’s worth a Faux-Nobel, apparently.

    This is as bad as Rogoff being unable to use Excel properly – as I’ve said before, Excel is a toy for shitheads and has no place in quantitative analysis (not even for preliminary examination of the data).

  128. @vhrm
    @allahu akbar


    The only thing reading “management” books have taught me is that most people have no conscious idea of what they are doing, or why it works.
     
    This reminds me that i also read a quite compelling "anti-management book" management book
    saying just that. " The Halo Effect"

    https://www.amazon.com/Halo-Effect-Business-Delusions-Managers-ebook/dp/B000NY128M/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=halo+effect&qid=1614543356&sr=8-1

    Rosenzweig identifies nine popular business delusions. Among them:

    The Delusion of Absolute Performance: Company performance is relative to competition, not absolute, which is why following a formula can never guarantee results. Success comes from doing things better than rivals, which means that managers have to take risks.


    The Delusion of Rigorous Research: Many bestselling authors praise themselves for the vast amount of data they have gathered, but forget that if the data aren't valid, it doesn't matter how much was gathered or how sophisticated the research methods appear to be. They trick the reader by substituting sizzle for substance.


    The Delusion of Single Explanations: Many studies show that a particular factor, such as corporate culture or social responsibility or customer focus, leads to improved performance. But since many of these factors are highly correlated, the effect of each one is usually less than suggested.

     

    The titular "Halo Effect" is what you described: when a company is surging or dominant whatever that company is doing (or says it's doing) is considered great and visionary and books are published. 3 years later, while still doing exactly the same things the company crashes and those same things get trashed in the business press or ignored. But the business books and "studies" written in the glory phase persist.

    Replies: @kpkinsunnyphiladelphia

    A very smart business guy I worked for years ago told me something that I will always remember.

    “Building a business for the long term is great, but it’s better to have one REALLY good idea and get rich fast before it all fizzles.”

  129. @Anon 2
    @wren

    It’s been noted that only the Americans are afraid of blacks, and of
    black women specifically. Fear of blacks (and fear of being
    called racist) is probably the dominant fear in the U.S. The
    first thing that black women notice (with surprise) when they visit the
    European continent is, “They’re not afraid of us here.”
    Europeans have thousands of years of experience in dealing
    with blacks, so they are race realists by definition.

    Replies: @Muggles

    “They’re not afraid of us here.”
    Europeans have thousands of years of experience in dealing
    with blacks, so they are race realists by definition.

    People who live in Florida are not afraid of grizzly bears. People who live in Alaska are.

    Europeans have very little experience “dealing with blacks” other than as in a few rare cases, slaves. There were no communities of Africans living in Europe (black Africans) and over the centuries very few family units lived there.

    Most Americans are not afraid of blacks. Europeans may have regarded them as exotic people in the past but now have the experience of larger communities of them. Especially young males.

    Americans who regularly interact with blacks have acquired some practical knowledge usually. I would say it is more an age, economic and cultural matter. While I am only speculating, I suspect that blacks probably fear being around large groups of (only) whites more than the reverse.

  130. @Paperback Writer
    @Bardon Kaldian

    Maybe you should tell the Nobel Committee of your findings.

    Replies: @Bardon Kaldian, @Stebbing Heuer

    Gold. Pure gold.

  131. @Muggles
    @RichardTaylor


    Almost all philosophy is a waste of time. Maybe that’s the reason modern science finally starting making so much progress: it put endless “really smart” discussions aside and focused on demonstration, experiment, measurement, etc. That is, a lot hard, tedious work that’s more like accounting than glorious thought experiments that make a fella get the awesome feels.
     
    Yes, this is basically true. Except when philosophy becomes entangled with observations.

    I.e. - let's look at large and small. When experimenters deconstruct matter/energy it becomes very philosophical. Photons act like particles and waves. Hmm... Pretty philosophical. What happens when and if you blast the smallest bits of 'matter' into other small bits. Yes, tiny stuff flashes out to detectors, or doesn't. And at the very smallest levels you have 'quantum effects.'

    Stuff can be two places at the same 'time.' Huh? And if you drill down far enough, it will move on you. So you can't really 'see' it. Pretty philosophical, no?

    As for large, there is the odd 'scientific fact' that everything known to be 'far away' is also very old, due to the apparent limit to the speed of light. So nothing far way (and very big) can ever be visited, since it is now so old and we can never travel fast enough to see what's there now. Hmmm..

    Also, 'space' is supposedly expanding faster than the speed of light itself. So far away stuff isn't even "there" where it was, and we can never visit it (under current science doctrines) because it keeps moving farther even faster than light. So even if we could travel at light speed, it would still be too far to "catch."

    To conclude: So small, that actually trying to "see" it moves it away. No longer there. So big, so old and far away we can never know much more than we do now. Too far away, and getting farther, unless we can travel multiple times the speed of light.

    All of these pretty philosophical notions define nature's largest and smallest. To overcome current 'scientific' limits on large-and-small, mankind will have to embrace new thinking about science, if at all possible. So are we all doomed to study with our beakers and rulers just quite big, quite small? Maybe Einstein's travelling train passengers seem more like philosophy than you think.

    Replies: @Stebbing Heuer

    Superb.

    Note also that the concept of falsifiability as being central to the scientific method was the product of the thinking of a philosopher, not a scientist.

    • Thanks: Muggles
  132. Why is “Thinking Fast and Slow” so popular? Simple. You’ll always make money by telling people that they’re smarter than everybody else.

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