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Your mind as a kluge : Why you believe faulty things, and why instruction does not work Greg Yates, University of South Australia

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Presentation on theme: "Your mind as a kluge : Why you believe faulty things, and why instruction does not work Greg Yates, University of South Australia"— Presentation transcript:

1 Your mind as a kluge : Why you believe faulty things, and why instruction does not work Greg Yates, University of South Australia

2 Basic ideas today That people are inclined toward accepting silly ideas (because they are human). This human trait is independent of intelligence or education (hence: dysrationalia) That your mind is a kluge, manifest with deficits multiple, of which you remain unaware. That the instructional process battles uphill against human nature, since (a) evolution provided us with clunky file sharing, and (b) our mind possesses a number of describable handicaps. (Computer analogy: File sharing or FTP, next slide)

3 FTP or file sharing File Transfer Protocol. Allow source computer to move a file to other computers. In old parlance it was FTP. But with the web came HTTP and . Now we have Skype, Bittorent, Youtube, etc, which are all file sharing programmes. However, you are still left with your clunky kluge of a brain, your carbon based pastiche of an information processing entity. But, new developments in neuroscience

4 Long tradition: Documenting silly beliefs Listening to music by Mozart will increase your intelligence Most people use only 10% of their brain capacity If someone is staring at the back of your head you can sense they are looking at you Vaccinations are implicated in causing childhood autism Next slide shows percentage agreeing with the statements: Taken from survey of 1500 American adults, general population, Chabris and Simons (2010).

5 Long tradition: Documenting silly beliefs Listening to music by Mozart will increase your intelligence 40% Most people use only 10% of their brain capacity. 72% If someone is staring at the back of your head you can sense they are looking at you 65% Vaccinations are implicated in causing childhood autism. 29% Percentage agreeing with the statement: Taken from survey of 1500 American adults, general population, Chabris and Simons (2010).

6 Surveys into New Age thinking Yates, G.C.R. & Chandler, M. (2000). Where have all the skeptics gone? Patterns of New Age beliefs and anti-scientific attitudes in preservice teachers. Research in Science Education, 30, Barnes A., Abd-El-Fattah, S., Chandler, M., & Yates, G.C.R. (2008). New Age beliefs among teacher education students. Critical and Creative Thinking, 16 (2),

7 Scored as 1 to 7, so 4 is the midpoint, intended for fence sitting. Totally unbelievable Generally unbelievable Slightly unbelievable No particular opinion Slightly believable Generally believable Totally believable The star signs (astrology) can be used to analyse our personality makeup.

8 Barnes et al., 2008 (n = 362) StatementMean (SD) % Skeptic % Believer 14 Extra-terrestrial craft, known as UFOs, sometimes visit the earth 2.74 (1.7) Past lives (i.e. earlier reincarnations) can be uncovered through hypnosis 2.9 (1.7) Certain crystals possess magical healing properties 2.98 (1.6) The star signs (astrology) can be used to analyse our personality makeup 3.15 (1.8) The spirit world can be contacted through séances or through psychic people known as mediums 3.5 (1.8) Although he wrote over 400 years ago, the philosopher and seer Nostradamus accurately predicted the course of modern history 3.84 (1.2)2423 Overall New Age tally (out of 42) 19.1 (7.0)4225

9 Findings about New Age beliefs Items naturally intercorrelate. Using traditional factor analyses, we always get a well-defined factor. But we have yet to find any other trait that will correlate with this. Disappointingly, it did NOT correlate with attitudes towards science, or general knowledge. We have also tried optimism, belief in fixed intelligence, disposition to approach or avoid arguments, need for cognition, measures of book reading, television viewing, student age, year level, and GPA. No gender effects. SO WHY DO INTELLIGENT PEOPLE BELIEVE IN NA?

10 Reflection You have a friend who keeps talking about star signs as though they were true. What is driving this? What reinforcers does this behaviour elicit? Is he or she genuine or just fun? Is he or she lacking? If so, then, in what?

11 Is the mind a kluge? Origins of word unknown. But possibly from engineering? An inelegant solution to a problem Yes, but it is a solution. It is heuristic... Useful... But less than perfect. The klugey solution brings with it consequences seen as limitations, side effects, faults, unplanned circumstances, design problems, flaws, …… or sometimes even irrational.

12 Kluges as products of evolution Evolution builds things (could be known as advances, development, progress, or emergent complex systems). But during evolution, the system cannot be taken offline. Hence, evolutionary building implies innovation on top of an old system. We end up with compromises.

13 Some common kluges Any large city. E.g., European capitols that are nightmares for planning, sewerage, roads, and transport services. QWERTY is not the most efficient arrangement. But it is good enough: so cannot be replaced (e.g., by Dvorak, which is only slightly better). SO, IS THE HUMAN BRAIN A KLUGE? Yes, says Gary Marcus.

14 Four areas of kluges K1 Perception K2 Memory K3 The facile way we process information K4 How we make decisions (BTW: Looking for synonyms, I popped error into, and got 120 hits)

15 K1: Perceptual processing The IB effect: The basketball counting task Inattentional blindness (and Change blindness)

16 Inattentional Blindness In most experiments, 50% to 60% show IB effect IB effect is not itself an individual difference trait. Although some people may stop counting to stare at the gorilla, the IB effect itself does not appear to be related primarily to eye tracking. The IB effect is unrelated to any known trait (except expertise in the domain area, i.e. basketball). Invariably, the people who saw the gorilla cannot believe that others actually failed to see it. This belief is called this the illusion of attention

17 However, a factor known to predict IB Clifasefi S.L., Takarangi, M.K.T. & Bergmann, J.S. (2006). Blind drunk: The effects of alcohol on inattentional blindness. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 20, Controlled lab study: The table below show percentage of adults who saw the gorilla, where half had been given drink to BAL 0.04, others given tonic water (18% represents abysmal performance). Given AlcoholGiven Tonic Told given alcohol 18%42% Told given tonic water 18%50%

18 Other Very Good Humorous Videos re=related Richard Wisemans video on the gorilla effect. re=related Derren Brown doing the person swap experiment. re=related Dr Wisemans card trick: Absolutely superb film. So well made. If this link fails, try the one below. re=related

19 We look, but do not always see We fail to see objects when the mind is engrossed in demanding activity. Video camera studies suggest 80% car accidents are due to inattention (but admitted by 20%). Change blindness: Failure to apprehend slow changes over time, even when putatively paying attention and well-motivated. Failure to detect when actors switch places. Many hilarious examples taken from movies where continuity errors remain after films release, too late to alter: There is a website.

20 Why are continuity errors common? The Kings Speech: Elizabeth meets Lionel for the first time. Apparently, her face netting disappears and reappears between cameras. Yet, millions of people see the film without noticing such things. (That is, unless you are looking for it). One curious feature of such websites are that they are always being added to. The original 1977 Star Wars has had 266 errors identified.

21 Labels genuinely affect perceptions The same wine tastes better when given an expensive price tag (Plassman et al., 2008). The effect was replicated using brain scans. Medical study find the more expensive pills more effective in dulling pain, even when all pills were placebos (Waber et al., 2008). OVERALL CONCLUSION: Our perceptual system is flaky. We are neither computers nor video recorders. We are only human.

22 K2: The Memory System Mother of all kluges (as it gives arise to many other kluges). We ALL suffer degrees of amnesia, varying in seriousness. Some examples of human foibles: New York Times helpdesk assists 1000 people a week who have forgotten their password. Companies report that 80% of helpdesk enquiries are about passwords. Nearly 300 prisoners released from USA jails as result of DNA tests overturning eyewitness-related convictions. (The Innocence Project). A medical website lists forgetfulness as a symptom of 342 medical diagnostic categories.

23 More Memory Lapses: Humour & tragic Tragic accidents attributed to human error frequently implicate memory, such as (a) pilot forgetting to pop landing wheels down (CFIT), (b) scuba diver forgetting to check oxygen tank level, (c) parachute jumper failing to pull the chord, etc. Bus driver forgetting to stop for passengers. But, your laptop recalls everything instantly and without error. (E.g. Value of pi).

24 You have such an imperfect HD Google pi and you get pi = Right under this is a URL, pi for 1 million places. Ok, so you use a mnemonic: How I wish I, etc. But such mnemonics exist, and are effective, because of your inherent biological limitations. Humans can develop incredible memory skills such as being able to recall 100 digits, memorise entire pack of cards, recall entire chess games, etc.

25 But do such memory feats genuinely improve memory? The people who develop their memory skills do not claim that their skills generalise. Lab studies have suggested that developing a specific skill, such as recalling 80 digits, requires 100+ hours, and DOES NOT transfer to other memory tasks, such as recalling words, or comprehension of text. Despite success, these mnemonists amongst us do not report wide effects. They are still stuck with the kluge of a memory they were born with.(Note: There is no solid evidence for significant cognitive or brain training effects in enhancing human capacities).

26 Interesting book 229X/ref=pe_5060_ _snp_dp 229X/ref=pe_5060_ _snp_dp Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything Joshua Foer, science journalist, attends the US Memory Championship one year, learns their methods. Goes back later and becomes the memory champion. But he still forgets where he put his keys.

27 K3: Information Processing 1 Human functioning only rarely enters a learning mode. We prefer to perform, rather than learn. Most functioning implies automaticity. System 1 serves our most immediate needs. Should it fail, we (a) make a slight behavioural adjustment, or (b) alter the goal to facilitate another System 1 solution. We exhaust System 1, then shift up to System 2. (Note: automaticity is not necessarily mindless. But it is not demanding, and involves monitoring rather than active wilful or reflective thinking).

28 Information Processing 2 As much as possible, we rely on prior knowledge which we can use and abuse mercilessly. For example, we use this to skim read. (In preference to reading to glean new information). This is tied to over-confidence. We navigate through the Internet, but cannot recall or reproduce our search histories. We pontificate and make judgements without caring to take in relevant information. We speak to others, but do we really listen?

29 Principle of least effort ( sometimes Principle of least resistance) Principle of least effort first used by animal behaviourists in 1920s, then applied to human behaviour by George Zipf in Reinterpreted by Herbert Simon (1955)and others: Your mind has limited resources. Heuristic processing is fast and easy. Intuitive heuristic processes will be used unless there exists a special need. Overall, heuristics will work well for you, most of the time. May be referred to as satisficing.

30 K4: Universal Flaws in Human Decision Making Confirmatory bias Premature closure and cognitive miserliness Anecdotal error: a story stands for truth Generalise from tiny samples. Failure to access data from memory, so instead, we base decisions upon ANY information that is currently available, including how we currently feel.

31 Danziger, S., Levav, J., & Avnaim-Pesso, L. (2011). Extraneous factors in judicial decisions. Proceedings of National Academy of the Sciences, 108 (17), (Note: A graphic portrayal of the ego depletion effect)

32 Huge body of research into biases and heuristics (estimated studies) Gregs list Is it depressing? Historically, two positions seem evident in this literature. A, and B A: As humans we evidence mistakes: We are puny, often irrational, biased, and easily influenced. B: As humans we are efficient and economical in how we allocate limited mental resources. Hence, occasional slips are more the cost of operating such efficient machinery (Gigerenzer)

33 My Friends Neighbour My friend often sees a man across the fence, in his backyard, almost every Sunday afternoon. He is short, slightly overweight, balding, has glasses, and sits in a comfortable chair reading a book. More likely he is : (A) a university professor, (B) a bus driver.

34 The Linda Problem Linda is 31 years old, single, outspoken, and very bright. She majored in philosophy. As a student, she was deeply concerned with issues of discrimination and social justice, and also participated in anti-nuclear demonstrations. Which is more probable? (A) Linda is a bank teller. (B) Linda is a bank teller and is active in the feminist movement.

35 The Kauri Tree. This problem is given in two forms to different groups: Form A value is in text below, with the Form B value in square brackets: Priming question. Is the tallest Kauri tree in New Zealand more or less than 10 [100] metres tall? (Person responds either more, or less). Critical question : How tall do you think the tallest Kauri tree in New Zealand is? _________

36 The Marriage Problem Jack is looking at Anne, but Anne is looking at George. Jack is married, but George is not. Question: Is a married person looking at an unmarried person? (a) Yes (b) No (c) Cannot be determined

37 Syllogisms All living things need water. Citrus trees need water. Therefore, citrus trees are living things. Is this argument correct?

38 Such problems expose our klugey brain Neighbour problem shows base-rate neglect. Linda problem shows fallacy of conjunction. Kauri tree height demonstrate anchoring effects. (Note, in controlled experiments even when people are told of anchoring, they still fail to ignore the anchor or adjust enough for it). Marriage problem (and also the water problem), demonstrate the cognitive miser effect. The water problem also shows failure to decouple the question from activated, but specious, knowledge.

39 A Re-assurance Performances on these types of problems is basically UNRELATED to IQ. These problems do not inherently tap mental capacities. Such problems were often developed and trialled using students from top-tier universities, around the world. But they do seem to relate to tendencies to take care, and to be rational in your thinking. (Big debate headed by the writings of Keith Stanovich about what IQ tests miss out).

40 Coda: Why instruction fails Students attentional patterns. We might expect inattentional blindness in about half the class, any one moment. We a lack a File Transfer Protocol. There is no mechanism available for dumping across from one mind to another. Instead The processes of human cognition constitute a natural information processing system that mimics the system that gave arise to human cognitive architecture: evolution by natural selection, (Sweller, 2010). Evolution by natural selection has driven the evolution of human cognition to mimic the functions of evolution itself (Sweller, 2007).

41 Natural klugey limits on our ability to learn Attentional dispositions, including premature closure in information search (a cognitive miser effect) Working memory capacity (stores 7, but operates <4 ). The misuse of prior knowledge in know-it-all effects. The problem of overconfidence (judgements of learning effects). The idea that you can accurately know how much you have learnt IMMEDIATELY AFTER learning appears wrong. (JOL becomes better after some delay). The depletion of the ego: you may only have several (5 to 10) minutes of intensive System 2 functioning before energy is relatively depleted. You are then motivated to conserve mental energy. But we are probably quite unaware of the existence of this effect.

42 Other kluges that may constrain learning We base decisions on tiny samples, but rarely on statistical information. Why not? Because such data do not apply to the self. Hence, we believe that factors that influence others would not impact the self. (E.g. commercials affect others, not me).(Other people are biased, but not me). Hence, we quickly dismiss any notion sincethat idea is wrong as I know a person who.... or this might apply to others but not me...

43 Implications 1: Defining human nature We have no basis for believing that novices are naturally efficient in their learning or thinking. It behoves us to be familiar with human limitations. Since we have no FTP, learning by direct assimilation is biologically impossible. Osmosis is not a learning process: Exposure may be a necessary, but never a sufficient condition for learning. If we expect people to learn, but fail to respect their human dispositions and limitations, then, are we projecting unrealistic, idealistic, possibly romantic, views of human nature onto them?

44 Implications 2: How can we teach? Instead, learning occurs once the person attends to an input, represents it within working memory, relates the representation to schemata within long term memory, generates a response, and monitors feedback. This entire process is delimited by the realities of human cognitive architecture, i.e. cognitive load. We can respect the load imposed by the instructional environment upon the individual, and use sound instructional principles, as defined by load theory, as basal teaching strategies.

45 Implications 3: Social design We can see human error as a natural part of life and an outcome of klugey design. We need to recognise planning fallacies. We need to build systems that will not crash when the human does. We need to ensure that socially-relevant decisions do not hinge upon arbitrary discretionary powers residing in a single mind. Moral position: that people need to recognise they are part of the shared human social enterprise, rather than see themselves as egotistical on-off prototypes unrelated to the rest of humankind.

46 The lesser known klugy quotes If it works, do not fix it (Anon, undated) A kluge! A kluge! My kingdom for a kluge (Richard III, Shakespeare, 1594). A kluge by any other name would smell as sweet (1600). Out, out, dammed kluge (1603).

47 Is this your high school memory? Sonnet 18 Shall I compare thee to a summers day? Thou are more lovely, though a wee bit klugey. (Collected sonnets, 1609)

48 References Chabris, C. & Simons, D. (2010). The invisible gorilla. New York: Crown Harper Collins. Marcus, G. (2008). Kluge: the haphazard construction of the human mind. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. Plassman, H.D et al. (2008). Marketing actions can modulate neural representations of experienced pleasantness. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 105 (3), Stanovich, K. (2010). Rationality and the reflective mind. New York: Oxford University Press. Sweller, J. (2007). Evolutionary biology and educational psychology. In Carlson, J.S. & Levin, J.R. (Eds), Educating the evolved mind. (pp ). Greenwich, CT: Information Age. Waber, R.L. et al. (2008). Commercial features of placebos and therapeutic efficiency. Journal of the American Medical Association, 299 (9),

49 Can superstition kill? Japan in 1966 Infant mortality level was 7.34 per 100,000. In the years before and after it was For girls only the same figures were 7.78 and Also the reported number of births in 1996 dropped by 25% (from 18.7 to 13.7), and abortion level rose from 30.6 to 43.7, or 42% Birth year, 1966 (Year of the Fire-horse), is considered unlucky, especially in girls. Implication: Mabiki or infanticide was practiced. Kahu, K. (1975). Were girl babies sacrificed to a folk superstition in 1966 in Japan? Annals of human biology, 2,

50 Aftermath of 9/11/2001 Within USA, level of air travel reduces, and road use increases. But air travel is actually safer. Road accident rate show increase over a 12 month period, Nov 2001 to Nov 2002, then settles down to baseline levels. During this 12-month period, road deaths are above expected level by Gigerenzer, G. (2006). Out of the frying pan into the fire: Behavioral reactions to terrorist attacks. Risk Analysis, 26,

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