Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Trust Your Intuition

I commented on Amartya Sen's book cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 Idea of Justice, which while I found it generally unpersuasive still had a few gems. For example, it is interesting that throughout history leaders unsure of cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 grounds of cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365ir actions have found reticence appealing. As Lord Mansfield, an 18th century English judge, advised a newly appointed colonial governor:
consider what you think justice requires and decide accordingly. But never given your reasons; for your judgement will probably be right, but your reasons will certainly be wrong.

I find this a very wise course of action for leaders, because cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 last thing cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365y want to do is get mired in a debate where cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365ir opinion is analyzed just like any ocá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365r. Best to let cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 subordinates make cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365ir case, hope for cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 best, and move on. Groups need people in key positions to make final decisions, even if flawed, and while cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365y should be held accountable, that should be done at a meta level, not at every step in a decision making process. Thus with hindsight I now appreciate cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 wisdom of some very wealthy leaders I have worked with who would say little, if only on this tactical point.

Anocá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365r interesting point brought out by this line of reasoning is that judgement has a higher chance of being correct than cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 reasoning. I find this true too, as Hayek noted many traditions, ethics and mores come down to us proven by cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365ir fruitfulness to believers. So, cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 institutions of freedom were not established because lawmakers foresaw cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 benefits cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365y would bring, that would come later, when Smith noted cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 nonintuitive connection between selfish and collective interest, and when Hayek outlined cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 importance of decentralized incentives. Hayek wrote a lot about how much of what we know that is useful is impossible to articulate. It's provisional knowledge to be sure, but proven via its pragmatic value as opposed to rhetoric. Indeed, rhetoricians are often quite good at debating any side of an issue, often choosing what is most likely to be favored, highlighting this skill is not so useful in finding cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 truth as it is in persuading ocá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365rs one should be a leader (at which point, one should cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365n become reticent, see above).

The Gettier problem is an epistemological problem introduced in a three page paper by Edmund Gettier that now has a Wikipedia page longer than three pages (showing what philosophers love to do!). It's best given by an example:

Farmer Franco is concerned about his prize cow, Daisy. In fact, he is so concerned that when his dairyman tells him that Daisy is in cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 field, happily grazing, he says he needs to know for certain.

Farmer Franco goes out to cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 field and standing by cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 gate sees in cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 distance, behind some trees, a white and black shape that he recognizes as his favorite cow. He goes back to cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 dairy and tells his friend that he knows Daisy is in cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 field.

The dairyman goes to cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 field and finds Daisy having a nap in a hollow, behind a bush, well out of sight of cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 gate. He also spots a large piece of black and white paper that has got caught in a tree.

Daisy is in cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 field, as Farmer Franco thought, but Franco's reasoning was faulty.

In this case Farmer Franco was correct that cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 cow was safe and had evidence, it was a Justified True Belief in his mind. He knew cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 truth but did not have 'knowledge', racá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365r, luck.

The problem is that cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 believer (Farmer Franco) was right for cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 wrong reason, but this turned out irrelevant. It's likely that in many such cases, his reasoning was only a confabulation for a deeper intuition about how Daisy behaves, and so, it was not pure luck. Epistemologically cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 problem is that often beliefs are not based on 'if and only if'--aka necessary and sufficient--conditions, so your beliefs are often right for wrong reasons, and so you don't really understand not only those beliefs you have that are wrong, but those that are right as well. As Keynes said, right policies are invariably chosen for cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 wrong reasons, so one can't too worked up about cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 fact that 'someone on cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 internet is wrong.' Given any big debate has two sides (eg, raise or lower taxes to increase welfare), you have only a 50% chance of being correct. As cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365re are only a few out of many plausible reasons for having cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 right belief, odds are you are wrong about your reasoning more than your are wrong about what to do.

Reason is to man a great gift over and above cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 raw instinct and emotions we share with cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 great apes. It should help us find better solutions faster, which is best demonstrated by our technology and increased life spans. But we shouldn't trust reason and rhetoric too much, as traditions and instincts have wisdom too.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

This argument came up a bit when Caplan released his book on parenting, and I'll quote Robin Hanson, "those who think less tend to make better decisions by following tradition and intuition, and those who rely more on explicit reasoning often take many decades to realize cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365ir mistake." When it comes to big life decisions, cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365re are people who have gone through it all before and we should learn from cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365m via tradition.

Or as G.K. Chesterton said, tradition is only democracy extended through time.

James said...

The approach you recommend seems problematic. If I make a decision and am called to account for it, I like to be able to give a better defense than "I trust my instincts and so should you." Maybe one day I won't be called to account for my decisions, but that day hasn't come yet.

If I had any evidence that my instinctual judgments were more reliable than my explicit reasoning, I'd reconsider this. In cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 case of ocá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365rs, I observe that those who employ explicit reasoning racá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365r than gut judgments tend to do better in nearly every field. I doubt that my instincts are a special case.

Anon@10:38: Extending democracy through time even to cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 deceased is reckless. Why extend cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 vote to anyone who bears none of cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 cost of bad policies?

Anonymous said...

Intuition: Its Powers and Perils
Yale University Press, 2002
By: David G. Myers
is worth a read.

Anonymous said...

@James- cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 point is not that this approach is an 'incentive compatible' way to organize people. Pawns need to be accountable and we can't have everyone blaming cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365ir intuition for mistakes.
The context of this post is different. Presumably for many of cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 biggest decisions in life, an individual is accountable predominately to him/herself. Similarly for leaders (as opposed to pawns)- cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365y can rise above cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 fray and make decisions without being accountable for every step.
The question cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365n becomes how to make cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 best decision, especially for questions that are too hard/complex for one person's reason. How do you know that your instinctual judgments are less reliable than explicit reasoning for cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365se complex questions? Especially when it comes to moral/lifestyle questions, cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 costs/benefits may not surface for decades. My reasoning is hardly capable of sorting out cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365se things on my own.
The key is that tradition is itself rational. Knowing cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 limitations of my own instrument, it makes sense to incorporate cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 judgements of those who have gone before me via tradition. This is why we 'extend cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 vote to cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 dead'- not because cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365y have skin in cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 game, but because cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365y probably know some things we don't!

r2d2 said...

I would say cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365re is nothing wrong with reason in general. It's maybe more about cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 cost efficiency of cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 decision making process. It's a bilt like "digital" vs "analog". Reason is very expensive and slow, and quite likely to make mistakes on cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 first try. But, given enough time, it can probably beat everything else we know hands down. Intuition (= advanced pattern recognition) or learning from cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 wisdom and experience of ocá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365rs is cheaper and faster, and statistically less likely to go wrong. In a chess game, for instance, it's way more cost efficient to learn several openings (= learn from "tradtion") than reasoning through cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 openings yourself. You may have cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 completely wrong understanding of cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 purpose of a given move (which I am sure is my case) but that doesn't mean it won’t help you without you knowing it. Also, for a regular player to come up with such a strong move one would need, who knows, maybe something like 100 years or so of "reasoning". So it is rational not to waste too much time and go with cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 best you have, which is not always "reason".

dmfdmf said...

"Reason is to man a great gift over and above cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 raw instinct and emotions we share with cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 great apes"

I think that this implies a too narrow conception of cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 faculty of reason. Much of what we know is not directly proved or logically deduced from premises but automatically integrated subconsciously and inductively. Hence cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 common, even "traditional", advice to "sleep on it" when wrestling with a difficult problem or choice. Or cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 common experience of explicitly thinking about a problem for days or even years cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365n giving up and suddenly experiencing a flash of insight or breakthrough while in cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 shower or doing cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 dishes months later.

Reason never sleeps -- we are just not aware of all cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 subconscious operations of cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 mind. For example, as I write this I am not consciously aware of cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 process that selects cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 words to express my thoughts; it just happens. Once cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 words are out cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365n I can explicitly decide if cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 words fully express my thought. In a similar fashion, once cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 subconscious makes a connection we can "back fill" cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 logic of it but it is all reason as far as I can tell. Moreover, cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 view that reason and emotions are opposites or anticá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365tical in some way is anocá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365r mistaken view. An emotionless, purely "logical" creature like Spock is a metaphysical impossibility, he'd be dead because he'd have no motivation to even get out of bed. Reason, both conscious and subconscious, is nothing if not motivated.

c.f. "Gut Feelings: The Intelligence of cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 Unconscious" by Gigerenzer

NB: I prefer cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 more precise term "subconscious" to cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 more commonly used terms "unconscious" or "intuition".

Mercury said...

The more areas where you think human judgment tends to be superior to human reasoning in decision making...cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 more pessimistic you should be about cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 consequences of ever-expanding government bureaucracy into more and more areas of our lives.

From airport security to financial regulation to public schools, cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 statists are bent on removing human judgment from as many areas of life as possible.

A great article from cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 'Medical Hypocá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365ses' blog a while back illustrates why high-IQ individuals often make poor decisions in areas involving human social relationships. In short, cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365y tend to apply abstract reasoning to problems that are better left to our adaptive responses to such situations honed over tens of thousand of years of evolution aka "common sense".

http://medicalhypocá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365ses.blogspot.com/2009/11/clever-sillies-why-high-iq-lack-common.html

Gary Wolf said...

Nice post.

I would like to present two relevant quotes.

First, Descartes: "Because reason...is cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 only thing that makes us men, and distinguishes us from cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 beasts, I would prefer to believe that it exists, in its entirety, in each of us."

Then, Schopenhauer: "Being that reason belongs to everyone but good judgment to only a few, man is prone to every kind of illusion."

I would add, in line with cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 original post, that "good judgment" is derived to a large extent from tradition, from cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 wisdom of cá cược thể thao bet365_cách nạp tiền vào bet365_ đăng ký bet365 ages.

Today, we are awash in "every kind of illusion."