Thinking, Fast And Slow

whitecoast

The Living Force
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obyvatel said:
Paragon said:
So then, getting the balance right between system1 and system2 is comparible to gurdjieff's right work of Centres?
I would think so. Evidence indicates that we cannot think properly - yet it is the thinking part that renders itself to some amount of conscious and voluntary control and hence becomes the life-line through which we can approach the Work on the self. The thinking function is lazy and serves as the slave of the moving and emotional centers. This is partly due to a combination of a lazy and/or often ignorant thinking center. Ignorance can be remedied through acquiring knowledge - then the laziness needs to be confronted through conscious efforts which apply the knowledge gained. Through repeated practice, the knowledge acquired gets integrated into System1 and can then be invoked without as much effort. This would indicate a "growth of being" - osit.

That is also the impression I get re: using systems 1 and 2 properly. It seems to me that "shocks" are any external force that cause greater arousal of system 2, and that waking up necessarily involves consciously observing when some input from reality needs greater accuracy and discernment than the default, mechanical response (which is the rapid delegation to the habitually acquired system 1 program) and following up as necessary and proper. So "waking up" from that perspective means never being satisfied with anything less than the truth of a situation (refusing to settle for less accurate system 1 results and paying with greater system 2 functioning (higher consciousness) to alter your responses to be more accurate.) Is this correct?

Laura said:
The bottom line keeps coming back to the fact: you can't think with the way you think and the only way anybody has any hope of ever really knowing themselves is via a network and later, perhaps, via inference.

Kahneman has some nifty little examples, tests, etc, that enable the reader to understand exactly what is meant by the various terms, and he also makes clear why the terms are selected and what they encompass.

This book goes into the MUST READ pile.

Duly noted! Thanks for the elaborations. :)
 

Zadius Sky

The Living Force
I just started reading this book and I found it to be very clear and extremely useful. I keeps finding myself to be intrigued by the author's flow of how he presented his information and examples to which he is explaining how our minds work. I see a lot of myself in the examples being shown where they actually happened to me in some ways. The concepts of "cognitive ease" and "ego depletion" (loss of motivation) are interesting.
 

mb

The Living Force
I am about halfway through this book. Much of the material is at least familiar from my earlier reading and observations, but I don't believe one can ever receive too much of this kind of information and it seems to present a better mental model than anything else I have had to work with to date.

There is one other book in particular I would recommend that overlaps partially with the material in this book: The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives by Leonard Mlodinow. It brings out even more about the consequences of the inaccurate narratives we create to explain random events. I also found it to be a good text for reviewing and learning introductory probability and statistics, subjects with which I had a lot of trouble in college.

I do wonder a bit about "intuition." I have long used the word in two distinctly different ways, both to describe the "system 1" activity detailed in Thinking Fast, Thinking Slow and also to describe a special mode of thinking that has not come out as yet in the half of the book that I have read.

This thinking mode is a bit hard to describe. It is a "crunch" mode that shares characteristics of both system 1 and system 2, and my guess at this point is that it makes use of both systems together (as opposed to involving yet another system). It is unconscious, but it is high-effort. I find that when my mind has been suitably primed, I can sometimes present it with a difficult problem and it will "crunch" the problem unconsciously and often quickly, yielding a verifiably correct result.

I use this mode to solve difficult software design problems, and when debugging illusive flaws. I don't know how it works and I can't explain how I obtain results using it -- I just use it. It will be interesting to see if this comes up later in the book.
 

herondancer

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It sound a bit like the "blink" method only done on the fly. You've got a tremendous amount of previous programming experience to draw on, so your system 1 is already loaded with examples to compare your current problem to. But only the most applicable ones will actually make it to consciousness. Same with bugs, it would seem. System 1 would have a catalog of bugs you've seen before, which may apply to the novel one you are currently dealing with.

Experience seems to be the key. For example, I am a self-taught sewer who made fairly complicated garments. It was great after several years to spot potential construction problems in new designs before disaster struck, and equally nice to be able to (usually) save things when an unanticipated situation cropped up.

Cool that you can consciously invoke this mode of thinking!
 

mada85

The Living Force
Firstly, a big thank you to obyvatel and Laura for recommending this book. It is supremely fascinating, and I've only just finished chapter two! I'm finding it easier to understand than Strangers to Ourselves. I think, at least in part, that's because of the exercises that Kahneman presents, that give me a direct experience of the difference between Systems 1 and 2.

I tried 'Add-1' and 'Add-3' with interesting results. Add-1 was easier. I found that the first attempt to add one to a four-digit string meant that I could not continue the rhythm (I was keeping rhythm by beating on my thigh). I stopped and then programmed my mind. I'm not sure exactly what I did – it was like a shift in my mind to attune my thought to the rhythm. After that I was able to do the task quite easily.

The same thing happened with Add-3, although after the mental 'programming', adding three was nearly as easy as adding one, but I did have to slow down a couple of times. It's a most interesting exercise.

I'm thinking that I transferred the control of part of the task to System 1. My understanding is that System 1 would be unable to add one to the string of digits, but it would be able to keep time.

I'm also wondering if there isn't a major clue in chapters one and two, and that clue is that some hope lies in strengthening System 2, since System 1 is completely automatic and very difficult to change, if such change is even possible.

My impression is that exercises like Add-1 do exercise System 2. Like the effects of physical exercise on the body, I think that exercise of System 2 would result in better mental tone and greater thinking capacity, which could mean better self-control – more strength to resist 'feel-good' impulses from System 1. Much of what we do here on the forum is exercising System 2, OSIT.

Could we say that will is a part of System 2? Resisting 'feel-good' impulses from System 1 develops the will.

But System 2 in its 'natural' state is definitely lazy! And exercises like Add-1 demonstrate it very well.
 
Thank you for sharing!
This is very interesting. So the intellect is lazy or not disciplined to working; almost as a child undeveloped. Because although it is the intellect it would have to intellectually admit it doesn’t know. It maybe that it views itself as the one in charge/egotism.
But in doing so is where conscious effort comes in at. It would have to admit it doesn’t know and then make a further effort to work for the answer and then realize where or why it was wrong.
Is it that for the intellect it has trouble with what it perceive as complex because of its subjectivity? objective understanding appears to the intellect as complex, foreign language and an unnecessary trouble because it views itself as the one that knows name intellect or the lower intelligence canter.
So it opts for an easier explanation by intuition because it wants to be right or by dismissal to avoid not only the discipline of figuring it out which humbling but also that it feels or intellectually avoids its inferiority to something greater than its own intellect.
It also occurs to me that the lower intellect takes itself to be the only psyche.

The lesson .. is that predictable illusions inevitably occur if a judgment is based on an impression of cognitive ease or strain. Anything that makes it easier for the associative machine to run smoothly will also bias beliefs. A reliable way to make people believe in falsehoods is frequent repetition, because familiarity is not easily distinguished from truth . Authoritarian institutions and marketers have always known this fact.
....................
Good mood, intuition, creativity, gullibility and increased reliance on System1 form a cluster. At the other pole, sadness, vigilance, suspicion, an analytic approach, and increased effort also go together. A happy mood loosens the control of System2 over performance: people become more intuitive and more creative but also less vigilant and more prone to logical errors.

This description reminds me of, in good times there is a tendency in people to become easily narcissistic and easily mislead, malleable,gullibility and lack of critical thinking becoming susceptible to media/advertisement manipulations by those in power delivering calculated shocks of mass trauma to keep people in line or tune into a created false reality of fear and passivity its when people see themselves and those around them including their environment mirroring back a "well to do" "everything is alright" "happy times", "Yes the world is not perfect but God is on our side and we are right so we must be okay back to the baseball game". And neither ever feeling an urge or a inclination that something is out of place/ an unforseen danger or a sign that they are being duped. Like frogs in a heating pan in times of extended Mass "cognitive ease". It becomes a panic attack or paranoia increases given rise to a hysterical state in the effort to find out that there world is the opposite of what they have been program to believe so people unconsciously look to what reinforces that comfort zone, its an automatic mechanism in the psyche. Its like the lower centers have enough conscious to keep the person is a subjective tunnel vision.

"Good Times, Bad Times 2: Insiders and the Hysteroidal Cycle"
http://www.sott.net/articles/show/145209-Good-Times-Bad-Times-2-Insiders-and-the-Hysteroidal-Cycle

System1 is the adaptive unconscious which produces fast thinking (Intuition)
System2 is conscious and produces slow, deliberate thinking.
(Intellect)

So system one take the place of system two and vice-versa reminds me of what Gurdjieff said about wrong working centers or working from the wrong center.
So when system 2 make an aberration because it lacks the will to listen or figure out something or of laziness or feels threaten or by ego inferiority or inflation it calls on system 2 to take its place which is wrong workings of the center. I guess This open the door to habit; constantly working from the wrong center of habitual escape wishful thinking, taking illusion for reality.

So it sounds like system 1 provides a non-practical answers for intellectual circumstances.
System1 operates automatically and quickly, with little or no effort and no sense of voluntary control.
. System 1 will quickly agree to peer pressure because it has not the critical application to evaluate its impulses which would be the job of the intellect (system 2 to critically evaluate system 1 to see if its practical or applicable.
 

mb

The Living Force
I am reading yet another, related book now, How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer. I am not too far along, but it has been interesting so far. This author takes a more neurological approach to understanding thinking/deciding processes, rather than the psychological approach used by Kahneman. There is some overlap between the books, which I find helpful for reviewing and remembering things, and he even mentions Kahneman, who is quite a figure in this field.

Lehrer writes about what he calls "flashes of insight" which sound very much like what I was talking about earlier. (In fact I sometimes experience them as a sort of flash.) I am just now reading that part, and I don't have a clear picture yet of how it might relate to systems 1 & 2. Lehrer's approach does not make such a simple division, but instead refers to various parts of the brain.

Lehrer also writes about how decision making is not possible without emotional involvement. He shows that people who lack the capacity for emotion also lack the ability to make decisions. As he delves into the neurological details, it sounds like some of what he is saying might overlap with The Polyvagal Theory as well, although he has not as yet (in my reading) made reference to that work.

He also makes frequent reference to Plato's chariot & horses, which frames the discussion in terms that will be familiar to many forum members.
 

Laura

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I just want to make note of a couple things here in reference to "Thinking, fast and slow..." As I have been reading the text, naturally, I do the little exercises/tests that he presents. It seems that my responses are not the norm. In some cases, of course, the way the brain operates is probably the same across the board, like you can only hold so many numbers in your head, when your brain is busy, this other thing happens, but in many, if not most, of the other little examples, it seems that my brain just doesn't do what he expects it to do. Especially heuristics, making assumptions, being led astray by System 1, etc.

Now, the only thing I can figure about this is that I have spent so many years now working on myself that it actually has measurable results. And I am reminded of something that was posted on this thread:
http://cassiopaea.org/forum/index.php/topic,26646.msg322501.html#msg322501

If a man gives way to all his desires, or panders to them, there will be no inner struggle in him, no 'friction,' no fire. But if, for the sake of attaining a definite aim, he struggles with desires that hinder him, he will then create a fire which will gradually transform his inner world into a single whole.
ISOTM p. 50

Since Gurdjieff pretty much described how our cognition works, and his description is now being borne out by cognitive science, then perhaps he did know a thing or two about what working on the self can accomplish?

I know that one thing that has had a profound effect on me has been the dialogues with the Cs. I think it might be the fact that sitting at the board and paying close attention to what is being spelled out (System 2 active), along with being aware of several other dynamic matters during session (System 1 active), all the while information is being delivered that is often quite contrary to my expectations, (neither System 1 nor System 2) has had a profound effect on the way my two brain systems interact with one another.

One thing appears to be pretty sure: the information coming from the Cs is NOT coming from my adaptive unconscious! Nor is it coming from my "System 2" thinking. So that means that putting oneself in a position where the two systems are required to be busy simultaneously, while a third system - an observer - is allowed to manifest, can have a profound effect. But, of course, I've been doing this for going on 18 years now, not to mention all the work that I did prior to the Cs experiment.

The point is: obviously, just knowing how the machine works according to cognitive science, statistical results of a distribution curve, should not make everyone feel despair: there can be changes and development that are not always described in these studies!
 

anart

A Disturbance in the Force
Laura said:
I just want to make note of a couple things here in reference to "Thinking, fast and slow..." As I have been reading the text, naturally, I do the little exercises/tests that he presents. It seems that my responses are not the norm. In some cases, of course, the way the brain operates is probably the same across the board, like you can only hold so many numbers in your head, when your brain is busy, this other thing happens, but in many, if not most, of the other little examples, it seems that my brain just doesn't do what he expects it to do. Especially heuristics, making assumptions, being led astray by System 1, etc.

I'm only about half way through the book, but I've had a similar experience when doing the little example tests. My initial responses/impressions are, in almost every case, not what he states they will be. So, I think you're onto something regarding the Work and what it does to cognition in general.
 

Andromeda

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anart said:
I'm only about half way through the book, but I've had a similar experience when doing the little example tests. My initial responses/impressions are, in almost every case, not what he states they will be. So, I think you're onto something regarding the Work and what it does to cognition in general.

Yeah, same thing for me. I can see how my responses COULD be what he predicts, but they seldom are.
 

Approaching Infinity

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Andromeda said:
anart said:
I'm only about half way through the book, but I've had a similar experience when doing the little example tests. My initial responses/impressions are, in almost every case, not what he states they will be. So, I think you're onto something regarding the Work and what it does to cognition in general.

Yeah, same thing for me. I can see how my responses COULD be what he predicts, but they seldom are.

Same here so far, to an extent. Some of my responses aren't typical, and some that are (e.g. wherever he says, "Answer this question quickly with the first answer that comes to mind") I'd know that the answer was likely wrong (kind of like the two-lines visual illusion). If I was in a "test" environment, as in high school or university, I would ordinarily double check and triple check my answer.

As for Laura's reference to Gurdjieff maybe knowing a thing or two about transformation, I'm only part way through the book so far, but I can't count the number of parallels in there to things that Gurdjieff either said, or taught as 'exercises'. While I won't pretend at this point to know how they work exactly, I've noticed that some of G's exercises included similar examples: e.g., occupying System 2 with a complex counting pattern and holding an 'aim' while doing so. (Kahneman mentions that System 1 will believe anything while System 2 is occupied, so perhaps this is a type of "redirection" of personal narrative.) Or exhausting one via physical effort, all the while being aware of all the sensations, feelings, and thoughts that arise. It looks like G. knew the ins and outs of the two systems, and how to use and refine each of them to learn new skills.
 

mamadrama

The Living Force
The same for me, though I haven't finished the book yet either. What I've noticed is he gives you all sorts of 'tests' and then tells you, with what I would call misplaced certainty, what your results were. Then he goes on to tell you how your results confirm his theory. And if your results differ, he ignores you. I do think his models overreach in their conclusions.

He also doesn't seem to notice some of the biasing of his own interpretations. For example, the 'cab' problem begins this way: "A cab was involved in a hit-and-run accident at night." He goes on to assume that it was the cab that left the scene of the accident. But it could just as easily have been a second vehicle, not a cab, which left the scene. Nowhere does Kahneman explicitly state that it was the cab that 'ran.'

Another thing that stood out to me is that most people don't treat life as an endless series of statistics and logic problems on an SAT test. Rational decision making isn't necessarily equal to probabilistic statistical decision making or logic. IMO one of the main problems with this theory is the limitations of his math-based model to represent human decision making and its conclusion that human decision making is so irrational.

If you're interested, the work of Gerd Gigerenzer has been recommended for a more formal and theoretically better argued rebuttal of some of Kahneman's hypotheses.
 

mb

The Living Force
Laura said:
I just want to make note of a couple things here in reference to "Thinking, fast and slow..." As I have been reading the text, naturally, I do the little exercises/tests that he presents. It seems that my responses are not the norm. In some cases, of course, the way the brain operates is probably the same across the board, like you can only hold so many numbers in your head, when your brain is busy, this other thing happens, but in many, if not most, of the other little examples, it seems that my brain just doesn't do what he expects it to do. Especially heuristics, making assumptions, being led astray by System 1, etc. ...

I notice similar things while reading these books, but I also look back to my much earlier "religious days" when I was at first largely unaware of any of this and unable to effectively sort out truth from fiction in what I was being taught and told. I remember having some insights early on, so I don't think I was ever totally unaware once I reached a certain level of neurological maturity, but there seems to have been a battle going on inside, and for a very long time my sensible side was the losing one.

A big part of the picture now would seem to be my circumstance of growing up in a right wing authoritarian (military/religious) culture but not being an RWA myself. I made a breakthrough in my late teens when I observed that belief systems acts as a filter on one's perceptions. I noticed this because I was involved in a religious cult that would periodically discover "new truth." But when I adjusted my beliefs accordingly, my perception of reality changed as well. I parted ways with the cult soon after that, as my perceptions of what they were up to came into focus.

With esoteric training and practice I became "better than average" at using my mind, and it shows in doing the exercises in the book, but it was a very long, slow process to make that change and the results were less than spectacular. It would have been far easier and more effective, I think, if my earlier training had not been so far off the mark.

I feel now as though I was raised in an alien culture rooted in wishful and otherwise sloppy thinking. And I am deeply impressed with Castaneda's statement about having been given "the predator's mind." In every such book I read now, and everywhere I look, I see it.
 

anart

A Disturbance in the Force
Approaching Infinity said:
(Kahneman mentions that System 1 will believe anything while System 2 is occupied, so perhaps this is a type of "redirection" of personal narrative.)

The whole 'System 1 will believe anything idea' is just such a great point relating directly to discernment (and even the C's mentioning that false knowledge is worse than no knowledge at all). From pg 153 of the book: "System 1 will automatically process the information available as if it were true". Think of the implications of that!

Basically if you don't think with a hammer (employ system 2) then System 1 is going to believe all the David Icke you read (not to mention the Bridges) and every fake ufo video you watch - your first passive impulse is always to believe it. So, exposing yourself to disinformation means that you're going to have to actively work against System 1 to discern truth from falsity, because System 1 swallows it all and since System 2 tends to be lazy, it all falls into place about why humanity is so easily duped by newage thinking, or propaganda - or any body of lies, in which it is currently drowning. Add to that the idea that occupying System 2 with stress, daily life and mental occupation ensures that System 1 has free reign and you see the increased potential for drowning in lies.

It's just such a great explanation of why we repeatedly say to people here on the forum that just because you believe something doesn't make it true - because you'll believe anything unless you WORK to find out the truth - and that belief WILL affect how you think. You cannot trust your own impressions! What this book is presenting is the reason why that's the case, and it's fascinating (and makes humanity perfect prey, considering we're engaged in a battle of the mind/heart/soul).
 
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