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Monday, June 11, 2012

Thinking: Post#6 - More on System 1 & 2

More on System 1 and System 2 thinking: System 1 generates answers quickly, intuitively. Unfortunately, these answers can be developed by skill or from educated guesses; however, System 1 does not differentiate or “generate a warning signal” to the brain or System 2 when it really knows stuff and when it’s just giving a best guess. This creates real judgment problems. To differentiate which ideas from System 1 are based on skill and which are just best guesses, System 2 has to slow things down and analyze. As we’ve seen, System 1 can overwhelm System 2, which often just passes back these “best guesses” as facts, even potential rules. Thus, System 1 is subject to all kinds of biases like anchoring, priming, etc., and invariably makes bad choices. The antidote for bad decision making is to slow down, challenge, develop checklists (like airline pilots), and create a safe place for people to disagree (elect a devil’s advocate). The Challenger would not have happened if engineers at Morton Thiokol and NASA had slowed their thinking down to deal with the O rings, instead of being pressured by the potential of another launch delay.

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