Smart Unconscious or Biased System 1?
Falsifiable Friday #10
Happy Friday! 😀
One very interesting aspect of human thinking is that unconsciously generated intuitions are so central to it. Most impressions and thoughts arise in your conscious experience without your knowing how they got there. Which begs the question: how reliable are the processes that generate them?
There’s a little-noticed discrepancy between the theory of the “smart unconscious” and the Kahneman-theory of the “biased System 1”.
According to the former, the unconscious registers more information than the conscious mind could notice. Making it terrific at solving certain kinds of problems that the conscious mind handles poorly, if at all. The intuitions it generates regularly trump conscious deliberation.
According to the latter, although intuitive heuristics can sometimes be useful, they often cue responses that conflict with traditional logical or probabilistic normative principles and bias our decisions. We need deliberation, System 2, to correct our biased intuitions - rather than the other way around.
Who is right?
The evidence is that intuitions, like all other mental processes, are accurate if the cues that elicit them are an appropriate and well-calibrated basis for the judgment at hand.
Sometimes it goes wrong. Like when the availability heuristic makes us assess danger by availability, and so avoid safe planes for dangerous cars, which we drive while texting.
But, contra Kahneman, our mind’s fast and intuitive ‘System 1’ is also capable of logic. Also, our gut feeling sometimes contains more information than our deliberate thought.
This is super interesting, and it strikes me as noteworthy that the research programs of the smart/adaptive/rational unconscious, and that of the biased ‘System 1’, seem to conflict, yet barely talk to each other.
Talk next week!
PS. I’m still accepting students for the first cohort of Academic Mastery with Roam!