Posted: December 5th, 2022
Cognitive Mod 6 .
Write at least one main response to the question below Systematic Data Collection about Judgment and Reasoning In your daily life, you frequently rely on judgment heuristics—shortcuts that usually lead to the correct conclusion but that sometimes produce error. As a direct result, you sometimes draw inappropriate conclusions, but one might argue that the errors are simply the price you pay for the heuristics’ efficiency. To avoid the errors, you’d need to use reasoning strategies that would require much more time and effort than the heuristics do. For scientists, though, efficiency is less of a priority; it’s okay if we need months or even years to test a hypothesis. And, of course, accuracy is crucial for scientists: We want to make certain our claims are correct and our conclusions fully warranted. Cognitive Mod 6 .
For these reasons, scientists need to step away from the reasoning strategies we all use in our daily lives and to rely instead on more laborious, but more accurate, forms of reasoning. How exactly does scientific reasoning differ from ordinary day-to-day reasoning? The answer has many parts, but one part is directly relevant to the following points: In ordinary reasoning, people are heavily influenced by whatever data are easily available to them—the observations that they can think of first when they consider an issue, or the experiences that happen to be prominent in their memory when they try to think of cases pertinent to some question. This is any easy way to proceed, but risky, because the evidence that’s easily available to someone may not be representative of the broader patterns in the world. Sometimes, evidence is easily available simply because it’s easier to remember than other (perhaps more common) observations. Sometimes, evidence is more available because it’s been showcased by the media.Cognitive Mod 6 . Yet another problem is that evidence is sometimes more available to someone because of the pattern known as confirmation bias. This term refers to the fact that when people search for evidence they often look only for evidence that might support their views; they do little to collect evidence that might challenge those views. This can lead to a lopsided collection of facts—and an inaccurate judgment. Scientists avoid these problems by insisting on systematic data collection: either recording all the evidence or at least collecting evidence in a fashion carefully designed to be independent of the hypothesis being considered (and hence neither biased toward the hypothesis nor against it). Systematic data collection surely rules out consideration of anecdotal evidence—evidence that has been informally collected and reported—because an anecdote may represent a highly atypical case, or may provide only one person’s description of the data, with no way for us to know if the description is accurate or not. Anecdotal evidence is also easily swayed by confirmation bias: The anecdote describes just one observation, raising questions about how this observation was selected. The obvious worry is that the anecdotal case was noticed, remembered, and then reported merely because it fits well with prejudices the reporter had at the outset! These points seem straightforward, but they have many implications, including implications for how we choose our participants (we can’t just gather data from people likely to support our views) and for how we design our procedures. The requirement of systematic data collection also shapes how the data will be recorded. For example, we cannot rely on our memory for the data, because it’s possible that we might remember just those cases that fit with our interpretation. Likewise, we cannot treat the facts we like differently from the facts we don’t like, so that, perhaps, we’re more alert to flaws in the observations that conflict with our hypotheses or less likely to report these observations to others. Clearly, then, many elements are involved in systematic data collection. But all of these elements are crucial if we are to make certain our hypotheses have been fully and fairly tested. In this regard, scientific conclusions are on a firmer footing than the judgments we offer as part of our daily experience. Discussion Question: What is anecdotal evidence? How are “man who” stories a form of anecdotal evidence?Cognitive Mod 6 .
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