Jamie Hale

Jamie Hale

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

A Popular Myth About Rational Thinking

It is common for people to use the term logic as if it is synonymous with rational thinking. Rationality consists of scientific cognition and cognitive reflection. Logic is a component of scientific cognition, but logic alone does not mean rationality. Cognitive reflection involves analytical thinking (a component of Type 2 processing) that reflects overriding fast, incorrect thinking responses.

Stanovich asserts that there at least  2 common myths associated with rationality 1. That there is not much more to rational thinking than logical thinking  2. That emotions are inherently irrational
"Dictionary definitions of rationality tend to be rather lame and unspecific (“the state or quality of being in accord with reason”), and some critics who wish to downplay the importance of rationality have promulgated a caricature of rationality that involves restricting its definition to not more than the ability to do the syllogistic reasoning problems that are encountered in Philosophy 101" (Hale, 2018 )

Logicians study the structure of argument in the form of syllogisms. A syllogism is laid out as a list of premises and a conclusion that may or may not follow from premises. A syllogism is valid if conclusion necessarily follows from the premises. When the syllogism is invalid the conclusion can be false even if the premises are true. Syllogistic reasoning is often difficult and response is heavily influenced by wording of syllogism. The validity of syllogism depends on the form, not on the specific terms being used.  Consider the following- is it valid?

"If it rains, Judy takes the train
Judy took the train today.
Therefore it rained."
Baron, 2008- Thinking and Deciding

The above syllogism looks good? However, Judy might also take the train when it snows or might take the train for other reasons; thus, the syllogism is invalid. Syllogisms involve formal logic; they are not a complete theory of thinking, and only a portion of critical thinking / rational thinking. It is reasonable to suggest that one of, if not the biggest myth about rationality is that rationality is synonymous with logic.
In my book - In EvidenceWe Trust 2nd Edition -chapter 2 covers rationality as in terms of cognitive science.   
Suggested reading:
Emotion influences rationality 


Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Research Statistics: Frequentist & Bayesian

Learning about stats will help you think in terms of probabilities, and allow you to gain a better understanding of research data. Discussions on research stats generally involve two categories: Frequentist and Bayesian. Frequentist methods refers to quantities that are hypothetical frequencies of data distribution patterns under an assumed statistical model. These hypothetical frequencies that are predicted are called frequency probabilities. These probabilities are not synonymous with hypothesis probabilities. Bayesian statistics are also concerned with probability and present mathematical models of data. The formula use is different with Bayesian vs. Frequentist models; a key difference is how probability is conceptualized. My knowledge is in Frequentist stats; I don't have the knowledge to talk about Bayesian models, so discussions in this book, regarding stats, will be focused on Frequentist stats.

To learn more about Bayesian vs. Frequentist refer to:
Frequentism vs. Bayesianism: Jake VanderPlas- video

All About The Bayes: Kristin Lennox- video

Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference and Social Science

Myths about statistics https://www.statisticsdonewrong.com/

Most scientific and technical journals contain some form of statistics; that is, if the research is quantitative. Without an understanding of statistics, the statistical information contained in the journal will be meaningless. An understanding of basic statistics will provide you with the fundamental skills necessary to read and evaluate most results sections. The ability to extract meaning from journal articles, and the ability to evaluate research from a statistical perspective are basic skills that will increase your knowledge and understanding of the article of interest.
Gaining knowledge in the area of statistics will help you become a better-informed consumer. If you understand basic statistical concepts, you will be in a better position to evaluate the information you have been given.

People like assertions that reflect certainty. Statistical, scientific thinking is not about absolute certainty. The conclusions drawn from scientific research are probabilistic- generalizations that are correct most of the time, but not every time. People often weight anecdotal evidence more heavily than probabilistic information. This is an error in thinking, leads to bad decisions, and often, irrational thinking. It is important to accept statistical predictions aren't perfect. These predictions are based on samples (groups, categories intending to represent populations) and will be correct more often than not.

To learn more about statistical thinking refer to - In Evidence We Trust