Posts Tagged ‘Keith Stanovich’

Abduction and the Tri-Process Model of Cognition

November 17, 2013

 

The Tri-Process Model of Cognition has been discussed in the immediately preceding healthymemory blog posts. It provides an elaboration of Kahneman’s System 2, which Kahneman calls Reasoning. Stanovich breaks down System 2 into two components: an Algorithmic Mind and a Reflective Mind. The Reflective Mind monitors both System 1, which Stanovich calls the Autonomous Mind, and the Algorithmic Mind. Now suppose you are planning a trip downtown. You need to pick up items at a bicycle shop, a health store, and a photography shop. Initially, you want to get these errands out of the way, so you plan to leave early in the morning. However, when you use your Algorithmic Mind to run mental simulations of your trip, your Reflective Mind reminds you that the bicycle shop is next to a sandwich shop that makes delicious sandwiches. So you use your Reflective Mind and decide to leave later so you can add a delicious sandwich to your trip. You use your Algorithmic Mind and run some more mental simulations in planning your trip and your Reflective Mind reminds you that there is a parade downtown and streets will be closed. One of these streets is a street that you would normally take home. So you go back to your Algorithmic Mind and run additional simulations to choose an alternate route home.

 

Stanovich is developing this Tri-Process Model to deal more adequately with rationality, a component he has compelling argued is lacking from conventional IQ tests. There are cognitive biases that can serve as valuable heuristics, but can also lead to erroneous conclusions. This is the role of the Reflective Mind, to reflect on mental processes to eliminate or reduce rational errors.

 

I believe that Stanovich has made a substantial contribution to the understanding of human cognition with his Tri-Process Model. Nevertheless, and I could be wrong, but it appears to me that he is missing an important component, abduction. The concept of abduction was formulated by the American philosopher Charles Sanders Pierce. It is a third type of logic.

 

Induction goes from observations to a conclusions, from the specific to the general.

 

Deduction goes from premises to a conclusion that is guaranteed to be correct.

 

Abduction does not guarantee a correct conclusion. One can understand abductive reasoning as “inference to the best explanation.” Abduction implies creativity. It is a new explanation.

 

So to address novel thought or creativity, some type of abduction is needed. The fields of computer science and artificial intelligence employ abduction. Diagnostic expert systems frequently employ abduction.

© Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

The Tri-Process Model of Cognition and Cognitive Miserliness

November 13, 2013

The Tri-Process Model of Cognition (Stanovich, 2011) offers a more complete model of cognition and a better prescriptive model of how to think. All System Two processes, including both the Algorithmic Mind and the Rational Mind require attention. In other words, they require thinking and mental effort. It’s a model of how to think thoroughly. Try to recall all relevant information. Run mental simulations regarding how different courses of action might result. The failure to use adequate mental resources (the failure to think) is what is termed cognitive miserliness. We are cognitive misers when we don’t use the cognitive resources we have. And most of the time this is due to an unwillingness to exert adequate mental effort.

Now for our minds to work effectively we need to have stored relevant information. Our Rational Mind should inform us when we need to look for more information. Mindware is also needed. Mindware needs to include methods for critical thinking. All of this should be part of our formal education, but the majority of what we need to do is a matter of self-education. We need to be auto-didacts throughout the entire course of our lives. It is true that our thinking is often time constrained. In those situations all we can do is to expend as much mental effort as time affords.

So especially for the important decisions we need to make in our lives, we cannot afford to be cognitive misers. It is unfortunate that the prefrontal cortex does not fully develop until our mid-twenties. By this time we have had the opportunity to make serious erroneous decisions. But this is all the more reason to think for as long and as much as possible so that we are making maximum use of whatever prefrontal cortex we have.

We also need to avoid being cognitive misers as citizens. Considering the problems the U.S. Government is having, it appears that the country is filled with cognitive misers. People blame the government, but it is the people who elect the government.

The idea that people do not vote in their own interests is not new. Moreover, there is plenty of evidence to support this view. Income equality has grown for the past thirty years. How can this be possible if voters are voting in their own interests? How can 1% of the population garner so much of the wealth? Mitt Romney called 47% of the U.S. Population deadbeats, or something of the sort. He also was against in supporting funds for college educations, in spite of the fact that the G.I. Bill was largely responsible the subsequent economic growth of the country. Romney’s argument was that if parents had the funds to send their children to college, that was their privilege, otherwise students needed to fund for themselves. Now how does this square with the ideal of equality? Yet 48% of the vote went to this man. How can this be?

This answer is that there is an epidemic of cognitive misers. Ideologies provide a handy vehicle for avoiding thinking. The ideologies, beliefs, hold the answer. There is no need to think. Contrary evidence is disregarded as being biased, being from a liberal press, for example. Now ideologies are even more pernicious when they are held by those in legislative bodies. Effective legislative bodies require negotiation and compromise, something that ideologues are not wont to do.

Beliefs need to be justified with logic and evidence. It is not a matter of believing in big government or small government, whatever those terms might mean. Regardless if someone tells me they are against, or for, big government, I regard them to be cognitive misers of the highest magnitude. Rather it is a matter of the honest examination of data and reflection that should be the means of determining what government should and should not do.

If this epidemic of cognitive miserliness continues, too many voters will be manipulated by skilled politicians and their advisors into voting against their own interests.

But by far, the worst and most dangerous ideologues are those who on the grounds of their religious beliefs, perform acts of terrorism. Religious ideologues can pervert religious beliefs into acts that are contrary to their religions. This is certainly the worst consequence of cognitive miserliness.

Reference

Stanovich, K.E. (2011). Rationality & the Reflective Mind. New York: The Oxford University Press..

© Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Tri-Process Model of Cognition and Critical Thinking

November 10, 2013

The Tri-Process Model of Cognition has been developed to elaborate on how rational thought, and, hence, critical thinking is accomplished. Critical thinking should be a goal for all of us. One of the first steps is making a commitment to fair-mindedness. A primary obstacle to fair-mindedness is our egocenticity. What follows is a set of questions we need to ask to ascertain the role our egocentricity is playing on our “fair-mindedness.”
“It’s true because I believe it.” (Paul & Elder, 2002)
“It’s true because we believe it.” (Paul & Elder, 2002)
“It’s true because I want to believe it.”(Paul & Elder, 2002)
“It’s true because I have always believed it.”(Paul & Elder, 2002)
“It’s true because it is in my selfish interest to believe it.”(Paul & Elder, 2002)

The key word in this last item is “selfish.” It is not meant to imply that you never do anything or believe anything in your self interest. But when your self interest breaks legal or moral grounds, then it needs to be questioned.
These are all examples of what is called my sidedness or we sidedness.Another term that has been used is “hardening of the categories.”

Most likely these processes occur during System 1 (Kahneman) or the Autonomous Mind (Stanovich). In other words, these processes typically occur below our level of conscious awareness. Consequently we must invoke System 2 (Kaheman) or the Reflective Mind (Stanovich). We need to examine our thought process and ask why. What is the evidence and logic that leads us to these beliefs and how sound is the evidence and the logic.
This is one of the reasons that politics and religion are often topics to avoid in social situations. They can lead to arguments, and these arguments rarely yield insight into the others’ position, and almost never result in changing the others’ position. Many beliefs appear to be hard wired. They should be inspected to see if they should be tweaked or changed.
One of the problems in examining these beliefs is that it requires attention and extensive thought. In other words, cognitive effort. There is a reluctance to expend this cognitive effort that leads to what is called cognitive miserliness.

Reference

Paul, R.W., & Elder, L. (2002). Critical Thinking. Pearson Education, Inc., p.39.

Paul, R.W., & Elder, L. (2002). Critical Thinking. Pearson Education, Inc., p.40.

Paul, R.W., & Elder, L. (2002). Critical Thinking. Pearson Education, Inc., p.40.

Paul, R.W., & Elder, L. (2002). Critical Thinking. Pearson Education, Inc., p.40.

Paul, R.W., & Elder, L. (2002). Critical Thinking. Pearson Education, Inc., p.40.

© Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Stupidity

June 9, 2013

This blog post was inspired by an article by Sally Adee, “Stupid Is as Stupid Does” published in the New Scientist, 30 March 2013, 30-33. It begins with this quote from the 19th century French writer Gustav Flaubert, “Earth has its boundaries, but human stupidity is limitless.” Flaubert devoted his final years collecting thousands of examples for a kind of encyclopedia of stupidity. He died at age 58 before this magnum opus was completed.

Were Flaubert alive today, I would wager that he would still be astounded by the vast amounts of stupidity. In spite of advances in both the physical and social sciences, stupidity prevails with people disowning these advances. That is, they disown selected findings, not the products and services that have emerged from these advances. The survival of civilization is put at risk by Costa’s five supermememes (enter “supermemes” into this blog’s search box). And people play lotteries and flock to casinos where the odds are stacked against them.

Adee does address the work of Daniel Kahneman and his colleagues (enter “Thinking Fast and Slow” into the healthymemory blog search box). Their research has documented two systems for human information processing. System 1 is virtually automatic and very fast. System 2 is slow and deliberate. System 1 is fast due to heuristics and practice. It enables us to interact quickly with our environment. Without System 1 we never would have survived. Unfortunately, this speed is purchased at a cost. Occasionally it leads to the wrong decision. System 2 is supposed to monitor System 1 and correct it. But again, System 2 is slow, so it is prone to miss many errors. Many of these errors lead to erroneous decisions regarding risk. The cognitive scientist Keith Stanovich is working on developing a rationality quotient (RQ) to assess our ability to transcend cognitive bias. This RQ would also measure rational intelligence, which defines our ability to calibrate the likelihood of certain probabilities. It is hoped that feedback on our rational intelligence will help us sharpen our meta-cognition, our knowledge regarding the strengths and weaknesses of our own cognitive processes. Although this RQ is much needed, it is still being developed. Nevertheless, we do need to focus on our own meta-cognitive processes.

Our working memory is severely constrained to the number of items (1 to 7 depending on the nature of the items) it can consider. We have limited attentional resources that are needed both to store information into memory and to retrieve information from memory. Moreover, these acts of storing and retrieving information alter the information in memory. And, as we all know, information can be difficult to retrieve.

Philip E. Tetlock is a psychologist who has done an important study of Expert Political Judgment.1 This study was done with the cooperation of Political Experts over a period of twenty years in which he recorded their predictions of political events. Their predictions were poor, virtually worthless. Their expertise enabled them to give impressive reasoned arguments regarding their predictions, but the predictions were frequently wrong or off the mark. This leads one to conclude that perhaps some areas of study are too complex to predict. Nate Silver has written a very good book, “The Signal and the Noise,” on what types of data are amenable to modeling along with suggestions as to how to deal with these difficult types of data. Time will tell whether different areas of expertise can achieve reasonably accurate predictions, or whether there are fundamental biological and cognitive limitations.

In math and science we often make simplifying assumptions or conjectures to proceed with our work. When this is done, there is always the possibility that these assumptions or conjectures are wrong, and we are unaware to what extent the results and conclusions are altered by mistaken assumptions or conjectures. Many phenomena are too complex to be understood or captured in mathematical equations. In these cases, simulations are done so that these complexities are found and understood. Yet all of this is dependent on the accuracy of the simulation.

Adee does not get into the issue of fundamental constraints to our intelligence resulting from biological and cognitive limitations, but there might be a bottom line to stupidity.

Nevertheless, we must do the best we can with the capabilities we have. Hubris is inappropriate either as a species or as individuals. We must take the effort to think and exercise System 2. We should be wary of relying too much on System 1 processes. We need to be wary of ideologies that promise easy answers and circumvent the mental effort needed to understand our world. The knowledge in science is constantly changing and we need to make an effort to keep up with it.

1Tetlock, P.E. (2006) Expert Political Judgment: How Good is It? How Can we Know?

© Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.