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Psychology seems to point out that we all make emotional decisions first and then rationalize them. The danger is that everybody is convinced their decision is rational.

I don't know if the non-reproducability crises has hit these studies




Personally I believe (as many do) that there are many kinds of "intelligence" and the ability to make (relatively) rational decisions is, like all forms of intelligence, on a spectrum. I'd argue that overall awareness, critical thinking skills and capacity for cognitive dissonance are all crucial factors in an individual's ability to make rational decisions. Also extremely important in my opinion is an individual's degree of individuality. As social creatures human beings are incredible susceptible to groupthink - giving added credence to ideas and concepts based on nothing but the fact that an idea or a concept is widely believed by others. Susceptibility to groupthink is absolutely fatal when it comes to making rational decisions.


> I'd argue that overall awareness...are all crucial factors in an individual's ability to make rational decisions

One thing that stood out to me from Daniel Khaneman's work was that he eventually noticed that he, even as a researcher at the forefront of cognitive bias research, was unable to effectively identify those biases on a regular basis in his own decisions. He seemed to believe our best hope is that others would be able to identify them in us, but that we are almost hopeless to be that self-aware.


We all lie. We are all hypocritical.

There seems to be a threshold upon which someone is deemed a lier, hypocrite or simple minded.

That we all do something doesn't mean that we all do it to the same degree.

For some reason when talking about intelligence, people are uncomfortable with some being better endowed than others. I've noted that the people who are most uncomfortable with this reality are many times hyper aware of the difference in physical endowment between different individuals.


> people are uncomfortable with some being better endowed than others

I've always wondered if this was because intelligence is almost considered a species-defining trait. It's often looked at as the "great equalizer" in achievement. It's a tough pill to swallow to acknowledge those differences in attainment may be, at least in part, due to unassailable differences in ability.


I may be missing your connection here but I wasn't referring to "rational" as a proxy for intelligence.

What i was referring to was the fact that our decisions originate in our emotional centers of our brain without our conscious awareness only to be justified after the fact by our "rational" mind


Sort of.

We have system one and system two thinking.

We all have system one. Some people have system two to a greater or lesser extent.

It's a lot more complicated than 'decisions originate in our emotional centers... only justified... by our rational mind'

Yes, to a degree that happens, but it's more than that or people wouldn't think or deliberate points in highly analytical manners.

Your post sounds like someone who reads Dan Ariely. Personally, I prefer more nuanced authors such as Kahneman.


I'm not familiar with Ariely. I'll have to look into his writing. I do know some of Kahneman's work has been questioned due to reproducability issues.

I was actually drawing from Kahneman's (layman's) book. Specifically, he says, "System 1 is the hero of this book. I describe System 1 as effortlessly originating impressions and feelings that are the main sources of the explicit and deliberate choices of System 2."

Granted, there's more nuance than the space in a forum response can provide but I've always liked his elephant and rider analogy. The rider (System 2) thinks they are the one directing their movement (and they do to some extent at least) but the bulk of the control is really the elephant (System 1)


Someone said: > Unfortunately, most people are simple minded and are unable to separate their emotions from reason

To which you answered: > Psychology seems to point out that we all make emotional decisions first and then rationalize them

You are saying 'we all make emotional decisions first and then rationalize them'.

No we don't do it all equally.

Yes, system one is active in all of us. It's emotional.

System two, the 'rational' part, is activated on effort and really only for people above a certain intelligence level.

People who are, for example, below 70 in IQ just can't think at a level of abstraction necessary to understand that there is a system one and system two.

They are mostly dealing almost exclusively in system one.

Some people manage to deal in system 2 much more. Generally, the smarter, the more they deal with that.

I'm taking issue with saying 'we all' do it this way. Because that is clearly not true, given how some people solve problems using system 2 and others can't, they are simple minded. It's a tough pill to swallow, but it's there.


>really only for people above a certain intelligence level

What are you basing the claim that System 2 is only open to people above a certain intelligence threshold level on? That is certainly not one of the takeaways I had from Kahnemans work

> Some people manage to deal in system 2 much more. Generally, the smarter, the more they deal with that.

I think if you re-read Kahneman, you'll see he is actually in disagreement with this. He even states that he is unable to effectively guard against his System 1 biases. This is coming from a Nobel laureate at the forefront of the field. He certainly qualifies to be in the "smarter" category of humans and if anyone should be able to thwart System 1, I'd think it would be him.

> I'm taking issue with saying 'we all' do it this way.

The fact that we all do this is precisely the point of Kahneman's work that I relied on to make the claim. I wouldn't be surprised if there's degrees to the extent that it happens, but it's interesting to me that you think that degree hinges on someone's IQ. Is there any data to back up this hypothesis? It seems like there's a conflation of ideas here. I don't disagree that people have differing abilities of analytical ability. But this does not necessarily mean that higher levels of analytical ability negate the claim from Kahneman that our decisions are rooted in our emotional centers. This two points are not mutually exclusive. There appears to be at least some study into this:

"One psychologist, Keith Stanovich, draws a distinction between two parts of System 2. One deals with slow and effortful thinking and demanding computation. Some people are better than others in this task, they are the individuals work cell [sic] in intelligence tests and are able to switch quickly and efficiently from one task to another. Yet such high intelligence does not make people immune to biases. Another ability is involved, what that psychologist labelled rationality and what Kahneman terms being engaged, which is distinct from intelligence as such."

The argument you're making comes across as, "Yeah, of course those people are irrational and biased. But smart people are different." In my opinion, this is exactly the wrong take-away from Kahneman's work and it potentially opens one up to being even more biased. It reminds me of a conversation with magicians where they felt like scientists and PhDs are actually easier to fool because they were smart enough to rationalize any justification for an illusion (and believe it wholeheartedly) simply because they weren't as self-aware of their own fallibility. So if you were willing to modify the stance that "smart people are above these biases" to "smart are more likely to erroneously think they are above these biases" that might be closer to the mark although I have no idea if studies have confirmed that.


Did you actually read the book? You say things that seem odd for someone who read the book cover to cover. I know a lot of people read a few pages or the intro... but not the whole thing.

Your painting a false dichotomy and mischaracterizing my arguments to do so.

I never said: "Yeah, of course those people are irrational and biased. But smart people are different."

I never said smart people are above biases. And of course smart people can justify bias more. These aren't facts that contradict ANYTHING I said. You are working with black and white. I'm working in greys.

The fact that you are painting my position as a scare crow makes me feel this is not dialectics but debate, you want to 'beat me'. I will post what I actually did say to so that your mischaracterization can stand out for what it is:

"Sort of. We have system one and system two thinking.

We all have system one. Some people have system two to a greater or lesser extent.

It's a lot more complicated than 'decisions originate in our emotional centers... only justified... by our rational mind'

Yes, to a degree that happens, but it's more than that or people wouldn't think or deliberate points in highly analytical manners."

In his book he says we all have system 1. He says it's the star. He says he can't overcome his own biases. But NONE of that argues against my point:

"We all lie. We are all hypocritical. There seems to be a threshold upon which someone is deemed a lier, hypocrite or simple minded.

That we all do something doesn't mean that we all do it to the same degree.

For some reason when talking about intelligence, people are uncomfortable with some being better endowed than others. I've noted that the people who are most uncomfortable with this reality are many times hyper aware of the difference in physical endowment between different individuals."


Yes, I've read the book cover to cover, most recently about three months ago. I actually try to read it every few years or so just to remind myself that we (especially myself) aren't as rational as we think. And with all due respect, I got the same impression about you referencing Kahneman but obviously drawing very different points from him and it's hard for me to tell where your conclusions tie into his because you haven't used any direct quotes or citations. But maybe our differing conclusions are just our own biases showing :)

I was trying to be deliberately careful to word my responses to not make a personal attack but rather focus on the ideas you are portraying, and even then to make it clear that it's based on my interpretation of your ideas and leaving room for understanding that you may mean something different. I'm sorry if it came across differently.

I am not trying to 'win an online argument', I was probing hoping to get greater insight into your position and, just as important, gain a better understanding of what your claim was based upon. To this extent, it seems to be based mainly on your own opinion as you didn't really point to any sources or professional opinion other than a vague aside to Kahneman. There's nothing wrong with that I suppose, but it doesn't really make for a strong or particularly interesting dialogue.

I don't think I was creating a false dichotomy. If anything, I was doing the opposite by pointing out that our System 1 and 2 minds work in tandem. My previous post conceded that I wouldn't be surprised if the extent of biases on an individual level land on a spectrum, so I wouldn't characterize my position as "black or white". I certainly don't think people fall into classes of either "biased" or "rational", especially not based on IQ. Overall, I feel like you maybe missing the point from my original post; it wasn't about lying or about intelligence, it was about our own biases leading us think we are exceptionally rational when we are actually deeply emotionally driven beings. Similar to your statement about intelligence, this is something difficult for some to accept. This "irrationality" (for a lack of a better word) is regardless of IQ, as quoted above. I wasn't deliberately creating a straw man; I was just rephrasing what I thought your position was as an attempt of active listening. Bringing up intelligence comes across as apropos of nothing, which is probably why the conversation got derailed. It felt like the conversation was on two different tracks, with me trying to point to our emotional decisions often being misinterpreted as rational choice and you redirecting the conversation to intelligence which didn't seem particularly relevant. I kept the conversation going on the assumption that maybe I was missing your connection but after all this back and forth, it's not really any clearer. I'll try to paraphrase below, not to prove I'm "right" but to illuminate how the conversation came across to me. It certainly felt like we were having two different conversations:

ME: People think we're more rational than they are, when in reality their decisions are rooted in emotions they aren't aware of

YOU: We're all liars to an extent. It's hard for people to accept there's a spectrum of intelligence

ME: Granted. But intelligence and biases are two separate issues that don't seem to be correlated. I don't understand the connection

YOU: It's very nuanced. See Kahneman

ME: [Quoting Kahneman] It seems like he supports the idea that we are biased by our emotions and that they are the root of our 'rational' decisions

YOU: Yes, we're all biased. But we all have different levels of analytical ability

ME: Some researchers [like this one], indicate analytical ability is not related to our level of System 1 bias

YOU: Things aren't so black and white. See what I stated before


I'll go along with this re-stating people's posts to get to the bottom of it:

Someone Else: Laments 'simple minded' for literally putting innocent people in jail for the inability to follow very simple logical constructs and basing their decision making (deliberate decision making, not spur of the moment) COMPLETELY on emotion without even realizing it. No system 2 justification. Just emotion.

Please note: re-read the original comments you are answering to, they are the basis of this conversation and everything being said SHOULD relate to this, as it is a subcomment:

bumby: > "Psychology seems to point out that we all make emotional decisions first and then rationalize them. The danger is that everybody is convinced their decision is rational."

Notice: "Emotional" not bias. Also notice how you are basically taking issue with the concept that SOME people operate on a PURELY emotional basis. Or what some call, a 'simple minded' person.

4ntonius8lock: Everyone has system 1. Some people use system 2. There's a spectrum, at some point of not using system 2 you get branded with the term 'simple minded'. While system 2 usage is optional, some people just don't have the intelligence to access it. It's hard for people to accept there's a spectrum of intelligence and at some point, many people just can't process higher level concepts.

bumby: Granted. But intelligence and biases are two separate issues that don't seem to be correlated. I don't understand the connection

Here you are moving away from the original point which was PURELY EMOTIONAL decision making WITHOUT UNDERSTANDING logical constructs. Why would you move away from the original point and toward 'biases'? Notice, this is the first time the term was brought up. I think we agree that 'bias' is more complex than simple system 1. Biases, when deeply ingrained/cultural are part of system 1 and system 2. People will think deeply about race when they are racist, bringing up everything in their mind. It seems that by moving from emotion to bias you are moving the goal posts.

4ntonius8lock: Disagrees with this point at the level of talking about systems. It's very nuanced. Yes everybody has system 1. Yes it is the star of the show. However, intelligent people can access system 2 in ways that non intelligent just can't. Maybe the IQ example should have been 40 as the example, which is the lower end of intelligence for those with mental retardation - Basically, I was proving that intelligence is correlated to our ability to access system 2, since at the lowest end of the spectrum of intelligence people are mostly purely emotional creatures, literally having the intelligence of little children who cannot even conceptualize at the high level needed to understand these concepts we are discussing.

bumby: [Quoting Kahneman] It seems like he supports the idea that we are biased by our emotions and that they are the root of our 'rational' decisions

4ntonius8lock: Yes, we all use system 1. But we all have different levels of analytical ability (access to system 2, which is what moves us away from 'simple minded', the original point)

bumby: Some researchers [like this one], indicate analytical ability is not related to our level of System 1 bias

4ntonius8lock: Yes, intelligent people can JUSTIFY MORE with their system 2, which they can access via intelligence. That doesn't mean they operate at the same level of system 1/system 2.

Notice the original post: that some people operate at such basic levels of emotion without logical feedback loops that they put people in jail in completely illogical manners.

My point is: some people have little to no access to system 2. These people at a certain threshold are considered simple minded in an accurate fashion. Yes, we all use system 1 mostly. Just like we all lie. But not everyone lies the same amount, so not everyone is a liar. It's a spectrum and at some end, calling people 'simple minded' is fitting.

This is a logical construct that comes from the book, I don't have proof of it.

If you don't choose to believe that last point, that's perfectly acceptable.

But if you reject this observation, then you have to deal with another observation:

If people all operate at the same levels of system 1 and system 2 and if smart people actually use system 2 to 'justify their system 1' as you stated, then how come smart people get things done that non-smart people simply can't? How come they can figure things out? I mean, after all, they all make emotional decisions first and only justify it with system 2.

If they ALL operate on system one and just use system 2 to justify it ALL the time, why the difference in RESULTS?

I find it funny that people have such issues with talking about intelligence differences. Literally this whole thread is you taking issue with someone calling a group of people 'simple minded' for being completely emotional decision makers. You didn't deny it, but did something I've noticed people do when they are uncomfortable with a truth: minimize, redirect and trivialize. Not that I haven't done the same. We ALL operate on system 1. It's our ability to self analyse and reflect that allows the smarter among us to be more self aware and to better correct course. This is the whole point of the comment you were answering! I think you aren't remembering what this thread is a sub of.


Thank you for taking the time to clarify. The root of why we're talking past each other seems to be a disagreement on the operation of System 2. In a couple earlier posts, I stated that I thought the terms 'rational' and 'intelligence' were being conflated.

It seems like you are saying smart people are better able to guard against their biases because they have more access/capacity in their System 2 thinking. I disagree on this, and I think both Kahneman and Stanovich make it clear that equating (or correlating) System 2 to intelligence is a mistake. It feels like you may be making an unsubstantiated logical leap here to fit a model of the world that 'makes sense' but hasn't transitioned from hypothesis to theory. In the context of Kahneman's work, it comes across as a System 1 error to try and maintain coherence in a previously held worldview. Maybe I'm misinterpreting their work, but that's why I deliberately pointed out that I'm largely relying on a layman's understanding. I am genuinely interested (because it's a topic that I enjoy) if you have sources to back up this stance.

In regard to why I started using the term 'bias', it was mainly because Kahneman's work focuses largely on heuristics and biases that affect decisions. To speak about System 1 and System 2 hinders communication because it's generally only known to people familiar with his work. However, most people immediately understand what is meant when people say 'bias' or 'emotional decision'. It was probably bad wording on my part, but using 'emotional' was in response the earlier post because that was their choice of words to describe how people can't parse emotion from reason. I'm assuming if they were familiar with Kahneman's work, they would have chose more precise wording like "System 1" and "System 2". So the choice of words between 'emotion' or 'bias' was a bit clunky but meant to redirect the parent comment's sentiment into the verbiage of the academic work, not really an attempt of 'moving goalposts'. It was essentially the same topic (unless I misunderstood the parent comment's intent). The reason I responded is because I felt that comment missed one of the fundamental takeaways from Kahneman, namely that "simple minded" people are biased by their 'emotion' but smart people are not.

I think the key distinction in our opinions is that (to re-state your position), some 'simple-minded' people don't have access to System 2 (and thus can't avoid biases) because of the very nature of their lower intelligence. Psychologists specifically studied if intelligence is a discriminator between the level of bias in decisions and the conclusion was bias is independent of intelligence. To re-phrase one of my earlier comments, rational != intelligent. Or put another way, greater intelligence does not make you more rational or any less biased. The book Thinking Fast and Slow is rife with all kinds of examples of smart people doing otherwise irrational things as case studies.


Same to you. It's nice to be able to hash it out, even if we fundamentally disagree.

To be clear, I never said, nor do I believe: > "simple minded" people are biased by their 'emotion' but smart people are not > smart people are better able to guard against their biases

Let's stick to the topic. You keep using words with varying meanings as if they are interchangeable. Also context matters when using words.

Someone laments people making PURELY emotional decisions that are clearly illogical and thus send people to prison. (emotional thinking = system 1)

This is a lack of critical thinking (system 2)

We all fail to use critical thinking (one part of system 2) sometimes. As any characteristic in any group of individuals, there is variation, and some will use critical thinking more frequently than others.

At a certain low threshold of critical thinking, they are called 'simple minded'.

You say 'we are all like that'.

I contend that yes, we all fail to think critically sometimes. But some individuals will do so infrequently/not at all, because they are simply unable to grasp concepts. So yes, everyone does it, but no, not to the same degree. Just like everyone lies, some people are liers.

Is critical thinking and IQ correlated one for one? Absolutely not.

Do high IQ people use their IQ to justify non-critical thinking? Yes, yes they do.

But here's the crux: Critical thinking requires the understanding of concepts. The definition of intelligence, quite literally, is the ability to understand concepts.

I really don't have any studies that can prove that low intelligence can understand concepts. As it would literally break the definition of the words we are talking about. That's why I don't like the interchanging of words. It makes for people talking past each other.

There are specific words being used, with specific meanings in a specific context.

Change them, and the whole thing changes. 'Rational', 'bias', etc... were all introduced by you. They are vaguely related to the topic at hand. I was bringing Kanemans work into the fray based on the system 1 and system 2 concepts he describes. Just as someone talking about a Pavlovian response might talking purely about concepts of conditioning without any intention to conjure things like his interest with 'biomarkers'.

I completely understand Kaneman's point. It's valid. Just as it is valid to show that we all lie. We all cheat. We are all hypocritical sometimes. We all would steal (situational ethics).

It's part of the good side of post modernism, showing universality. But I find some people get lost in post modernism and make it a religion. If you say 'someone is a lier' they will smugly say 'we all lie'. As if frequency and intensity were not at play.


I'll try to re-phrase because I think we're circling back to the same argument.

My contention is not against admitting there is a gradient of IQ or G or whatever metric of intelligence is used. That seems fairly apparent, even if uncomfortable for some to admit.

What I'm claiming is that engaging System 2 is not dependent on your level of intelligence. Take an example of three people being tasked with determining the fuel needed to reach escape velocity of earth. One may reflexively say "10,000 kg" because they are using System 1. Another may try to use algebra and the third calculus. The last two may both use System 2 even though person two doesn't have the capacity to understand calculus. Utilizing System 2 is not a result of intelligence, it's the result of being engaged enough to slow down and use analytical thinking. Whether they can do this is dependent on their System 2 mind, whether they arrive at the right answer is the result of their intelligence. This is where it feels like terms are being conflated.

Point taken on using terms interchangeably and cavalierly; it was poor selection on my part. In a similar vein, there was a reason I stayed away from the term "critical thinking". In psychology, critical thinking is distinct from intelligence and both are distinct from rationality (at least in the way Stanovich uses rationality). We should be careful not to conflate these terms as well.

In short, I don't think "System 2" engagement is dependent on the ability to understand concepts, it has more to do with the ability to focus one's attention with deliberate effort. Just like I don't think System 1 thinking is correlated to intelligence thresholds. I revisited some of the texts and studies over the course of this conversation and I think they back this up.


You might not like the use of 'emotional thinking' vs 'critical thinking', but that's what this sub-thread is about. The introduction of words like rational was purely on you.

I agree system 2 is only activated on deliberate effort.

However effective use of critical thinking via system 2 has an additional requirement: intelligence.

Remember we have a topic: people being sent to jail, and emotional decision makers being called 'simple minded'. That's what you took issue with. That's what this thread is about.

If you honestly believe that someone with severe mental retardation has the same ability to engage critical thinking using system 2 in the context we are talking about (analyzing evidence as part of a jury) to the same level as someone with a higher IQ, then we will simply have to agree to disagree.

I already exposed why I believe this: critical thinking requires understanding concepts, intelligence is the ability to understand concepts... ergo, you need intelligence to engage in critical thinking.

OF COURSE intelligence won't make you think critically, that's obvious as I had originally stated, like the book, that system 2 is a deliberate process.

And remember, before you post more scarecrow arguments: no one said Critical thinking = intelligence. You keep fighting things you create. My point was extremely narrow and clear based on the clear and narrow context we are talking about.

I'd say the whole thing could be summed up at:

Simply minded emotional thinkers who don't use system 2 are causing harm.

Your post basically disagrees with this and says we all do it to the same degree.

I disagree with you for reasons.

My reasons don't change your perceptions.

Fine.


> Simply minded emotional thinkers who don't use system 2 are causing harm. Your post basically disagrees with this and says we all do it to the same degree.

I never claimed people who rely on System 1 don't cause harm. I claimed that we all engage in System 1 thinking NOT that we all do it to the same degree. The entire intent of the original reply was to disagree with the idea that there are distinct classes of 'emotional' and 'rational' thinkers. You are reading into my point something that was never there and I'm not sure why.

>You keep bringing up intelligence

If you look, you were the one to bring up intelligence in your very first response and I've been trying to convey that this is a misunderstanding of my point. Intelligence and critical thinking are tangential and not what my original point was about. If you want to side with the OP, fine, just realize that appears to be an opinion that wasn't backed up with any research. To beat a dead horse, my follow-up point is that irrational decisions are made irrespective of intelligence. Going way back to my first reply to you, I think you keep mixing up rationality and intelligence. Stanovich came up with the terminology of System 1 and System 2 that you invoked and his research made it clear that System 2 thinking is not an intelligence-dependent trait. So it seems odd that you keep circling the wagons on this point.

> If you honestly believe that someone with severe mental retardation...

This is a straw man. Not only is it twisting my position but it's being hyperbolic.

> I disagree with you for reasons.

I can get behind your reasons and they seem plausible. It's just that the research seems to go against them. That's why I was really hoping you would back up your position with some academic opinion/research. Especially when the counterpoint is supported by research from two well-regarded psychologists, one of which is a Nobel Laureate and the other which is one of the most cited in his field, it's probably prudent to side with the existing research and not one's unfounded opinion.

If your point is that critical thinking is necessary to come to the right conclusions in court, there's no disagreement. If you feel that there are varying degrees of competency with regard to critical thinking, again there's no disagreement. That's not the point I was making which is why the conversation has been so hard for me to follow. Like I said before, it comes across as apropos of nothing like it's just a point you were just waiting for a chance to shoehorn into a conversation. At the very least, it doesn't seem to fit as a response to my original post and probably should have been posted in response to something else.


I guess what you are saying is:

We all have the same access to system 2.

Like everyone having access to start a car, everyone needs to put in effort to start their car, but someone with low intelligence is like someone who has a car that has 10hp... they will go slower than someone who has a car that has 1000hp. Both can start the car equally is what you are saying.

Fair enough.

I think my point is, below a certain IQ threshold, the HP is virtually 0, and can move little to no distance/speed. Therefore, it's as if it wasn't there. My point is an observation arrived at from the very meanings of the words intelligence/critical thinking, there's really no studies that can 'prove' a word has a meaning. It's simply an agreed upon sound that we associate with concepts.

BTW, the degree of what is done is all I ever meant to get at. Look at my very first reply to you. The word 'degree' is central to my answer.




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