Method to Improve Judgements

I recently read the 2021 book, Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgement by Daniel Kahneman, Olivier Sibony and Cass Sunstein. I posted a paired down version of the review below:

“Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgement” was a good surprise for me. Daniel Kahneman and Cass Sustein’s were two of the three authors of this book. Their books, Kahneman’s “Thinking Fast & Slow” mentioned in many posts such as Unique Well-Being Influences of Experience and Memory) and Sunstein’s “Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, & Happiness” (also discussed in many posts) were both great books. This book for me was an extension of those works and how to use the ideas presented in those books more effectively. It certainly shifted my thinking from believing it was just bias that could cause errors, to understanding how our diverse thoughts can be more effectively coralled in ways that result in better judgment. The book also helped me understand why noise is an unseen and therefore uncorrected problem and why a focus on improving our decision process can help.

Nate Silver’s book, “The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail—But Some Don’t” differentiated the signal from noise in the data with a focus on recognizing the signal. This book explained more about the noise. It explained how “Noise” can cause errors when we use our mind as a measuring instrument. Noise, which can happen on occasion, because of hunger, other concerns, and inattention to details can lead to all of us generating different judgments, even to the same situations. These different judgments lead to increased variance. More consistency, a suggested goal, could occur by lowering the variance through better methods or processes. Improved processes was also the main successful method Dr. W. Edwards Deming promoted to improve quality.

I also now better understand the idea of “Wisdom of the Crowds”. They also acknowledged wisdom does depend on the crowd. The idea of wisdom in crowds is how multiple views aggregated can cancel out errors. Cancelling out or averaging errors cannot happen with single shot assessments by judges or insurance adjusters. To make these single shot judgments less problematic, they recommend improving the decision process by treating those single shot judgements as recurring events. In other words, just as Deming demonstrated with quality management methods, continual process improvements should be the focus – the decision making process in this case.

I was surprised to learn that the powerful impact of anchoring was so pervasive. Anchoring seemed to be a repeated issue or source of errors. Anchoring, as has been shown, happens in situation when the first event, such as a price mentioned, becomes the anchor or reference point from which all else is measured or judged. One of their suggestions to counter anchoring is to use base rates as an anchor. 

It was also explained how anchors are formed from first impressions, first statements and more. After an anchor is established, generally without our conscious recognition, we then use confirmation bias to distort new information so it fits that anchored or our original impression. We do this because we seek coherence. It seems none of us likes to be confused so we attempt o create coherence.

Noise is a very good book that helped me understand how our built in biases such as anchoring, planning fallacy, present bias (endowment effect), confirmation bias , substitution of easier answers for more complicated questions, overconfidence, loss aversion, availability and others impact our judgement. They also offered many ways to improve our judgement. Specifically it seems they are suggesting we slow down so we can use our logical brain, rather than our intuitive brain to make better judgements – what they call Decision Hygiene.

Basically, their generally suggestions to make better judgments, and be more accurate, are to take an outside view by determining a base rate, structure judgements based on several independently determined assessments (independence of assessments is vital), resist premature intuition (to avoid the anchoring effect), and then aggregate multiple independent judgements prior to making overall judgment. They also emphasize the superiority of relative versus absolute judgments. In other words, if you are interested in improving your personal or organizational judgments, I recommend the book, “Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgement”.

An important lesson I was reminded of from reading this book was not to let one area be most important. As we build a better life, it all matters. As I show in my work with the Salutogenic Wellness Promotion Scale (SWPS), all areas in our life can make a meaningful contribution to helping promote personal and planetary well-being. In other words, my research and that of many others has shown that we can help generate comprehensive improvements by creating reciprocal, pervasive, selfish, selfless, synergistic physical, social, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, vocational, and environmental interactions that help everyone and everything benefit. The missed point, often because of the push for significance in research, is that the results are from the longer term accumulation of impacts and all contributions matter. If you are interested, you can review any of the peer reviewed articles I have published with colleagues. To access, you may need to go to libraries and use Google Scholar. A recommended search is Becker, CM, salutogenesis, health, and well-being.

Please contact me if you are interested in learning more about promoting selfish, selfless, synergy so everyone and everything benefits.

Be Well’r,

Craig Becker

Be selfish, selfless, & synergistic so everyone and everything benefits!

#SelfishSelflessSynergy

Please share your thoughts and questions below.

Wanting & Liking; Knowing & Doing- Very Different

In contrasting fashion I have read  and are reading books that take similar concepts from different perspectives. In reading “The Upside of Your Dark Side” by Todd Kashdan I learned that just because we want something, even something we want really bad, it doesn’t mean we will like it when we get it. He explains that wanting and liking are handled by 2 different parts of our brain. In other words, when someone else tells us we should have or get something because it is great, we may realize after we get it that it isn’t great. While Todd suggests this happens because different parts of the brain handle each requests infers this may be a problem but to me it seems this is a good thing and should happen.

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To me the process of wanting and possibly liking, as handled by our brain uses science or the Socratic Method. It seems what we are doing is one part of our brain, without experience, makes an educated guess or hypothesis that something is wanted or needed.  We don’t know if it is right until we test it. After we test that something we will know if we do or do not want it. Isn’t that life? Marketing of course has confused the issue by manufacturing wants and confusing wants and needs thanks to Freud’s cousin Edward Benays.  I will talk about marketing in future post.

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Based on a recommendation of a respected friend I am reading and learning from Daniel Lieberman’s The Story of the Human Body: Evolution, health and disease. He explains we did not evolve to be happy and well adjusted. He also explains a lot about what Kashan says is our desire for comfort – an actual genetic desire. He explains we adapted to become what would make it most likely we would reproduce.

As he explains, adaptations to our biology happened to encourage reproductive success, not to make us happy or to have a long lived life or to achieve goals. If those needs overlap, then yes we did evolve for that purpose. However because we adapted through our evolution, what we were continually changed. Each time we adapted to optimize our situation, that optimization changed everything meaning we had to evolve again to optimize. These repeating adaptations are all part of who we are and helps explain why we are the we are. It also provides several reasons as to why we are less than rational. Our biology creates different wants and needs. We therefore are irrational because of our varied adaptations throughout our evolution.

Our irrationality is explained in detail by the Behavior Economics and brilliantly by Daniel Kahneman in Thinking Fast & Slow. For more information about these topics you can see posts here  andhere.

For example, Lieberman suggests we get chronic disease because we are doing what we were evolved to do. The evolutionarily driven choices we make for food and exercise today were created for an environment of scarcity and discomfort not for todays world of comfort and abundance. This explains much…

I am learning a lot, I look forward to sharing as I learn more about how we can best generate comprehensive improvements by creating interactions so everyone and everything benefits. If you have read either of these books please share your thoughts. Thank you – I look forward to learning more…

Emotions Drive Actions: Create a Strong Positive Picture

Emotions ignite action, are you getting others and yourself emotionally involved?

Often we are too scientific and technical. New brain research shows emotions may be as or more important than anything else. In Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman’s book, Thinking Fast & Slow, Goleman’s book Social Intelligence, the Heath Brothers books – Decisive, Switch, and Made to Stick and in many other noted books and articles, it is explained that the brain has 2 parts – Emotional and Logical. The older emotional part of the brain is fast, unthinking, and spurs gut reactions that are less accurate. The newer, logical, thinking and deliberative part of the brain is slower and more accurate.

Emotional reasons get people engaged and active then our logical brain can be used to figure out the best course of action. Using only one part of the brain is less effective. With this in mind, it means we should paint a picture of a better, more emotionally desirable tomorrow. Creating a picture of something we desire inspires us to think actively about what we must do to create that new reality.

Our evolutionary brain  suggests the picture should be positive because our brain has an optimism bias as Sharot explains in his book The Optimism Bias: The Irrationally Positive Brain. Even so, traditional efforts attempt to scare or worry people about an undesired, sick or problematic future. Our optimistic brain dismisses negatives as unlikely or shuts them out.  Understanding this means we need to work hard to paint a positive emotionally desirable picture of the future.

Our brains mirror neurons instigate us to copy or “mirror” actions when our older emotional brain is emotionally moved. To activate mirror neurons, talk, think about and model actions that lead to desired outcomes. Doing good deeds and taking helpful actions will inspire others to “mirror” your actions and do more good things.

Share your experiences, what have you done or seen done that excited you and or other people enough to get them involved. What should we be doing to ignite emotions and actions that create interactions so everyone and everything benefits? I am excited to hear about your inspiring actions!

Be Well’r,

Craig Becker