Simple Heuristics That Make Us Smart (Evolution and Cognition Series) Hardcover – 28 Oct 1999
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"How do people cope in the real, complex world of confusing and overwhelming information and rapidly approaching deadlines? This important book starts a new quest for answers. Here, Gigerenzer, Todd, and their lively research group show that simple heuristics are powerful tools that do surprisingly well. The field of decision making will never be the same again."--Donald A. Norman, author of Things Make Us Smart and The Invisible Computer"Gigerenzer & Todds volume represents a major advance in our understanding of human reasoning, with many genuinely new ideas on how people think and an impressive body of data to back them up. Simple Heuristics is indispensable for cognitive psychologists, economists, and anyone else interested in reason and rationality."--Steven Pinker, author of How the Mind Works and Words and Rules"In the past few years, the theory of rational (sensible) human behavior has broken loose from the illusory and empirically unsupported notion that deciding rationally means maximizing expected utility. Research has learned to take seriously and study empirically how real human beings ... actually address the vast complexities of the world they inhabit. Simple Heuristics ... offers a fascinating introduction to this revolution in cognitive science, striking a great blow for sanity in the approach to human rationality."--Herbert A. Simon, Carnegie Mellon University, and Nobel Laureate in Economics"This book is a major contribution to the theory of bounded rationality. It illustrates that the surprising efficiency of fast and simple procedures is due to their fit with the structure of the environment in which they are used. The emphasis on this ecological rationality is an advance in a promising and already fruitful new direction of research."--Reinhard Selten, Professor of Economics at the University of Bonn, and Nobel Laureate in Economics"The underlying argument of the book is that the environments in which we evolved and in which we now live have certain regularities, and that decision making mechanisms--both evolved mechanisms, and the mechanisms that we actually use today--take advantage of these environmental regularities. Most of the book illustrates this argument by showing that in many circumstances shortcut decision making mechanisms (the 'simple heuristics' of the title) are remarkably accurate...This book by Gigerenzer and his associates marks a significant advance in the analysis." -- Paul H. Rubin, Journal of Bioeconomics, Vol 2, 2000"Gigerenzer et al. take on a heroic effort of creating a grand theory of mind ..."--Contemporary Psychology, APA Review of Books
About the Author
Dr. Gerd Gigerenzer is the Director of the Center for Adaptive Behavior and Cognition, Max Planck Institute for Human Development. Dr. Peter M. Todd is Research Scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development.
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Are we really that flawed that in order to figure out which pizza to order you need to do multiple regression analysis?
Or do we survive (and have for millennia) because we are part of the order of things, and as such, have innately within us, the correct mechanisms to figure out things.
Or, are these mechanisms outdated in Modern society?
Gigerenzer makes a very compelling argument for, not against, Heuristics.
We are not flawed beyond repair in our thinking process.
But maybe some that espouse 'biases' are.
We do not have (or need) a computer-like brain, or worse, have a moral dictate to be an efficient being (even when such an attempt actually makes us less efficient!)
I give it two stars because it presents a truly innovative approach to the science of decision making and, though almost impossible to finish, it taught me something new.
Let me elaborate. Many standard approaches are radically different from how we, as intelligent beings, think. Many (most) formal decision making algorithms are based on machine learning approaches, which simply process the data, ignoring the data collection task. They are data hungry. Give them the perfect data set and they can break records (or beat players at the game called Go).
Alternatively, the fast and frugal heuristics take into account that information might be hard to come by in the first place. Moreover, these heuristics are much easier to follow in real life. They are based on three simple principles:
(1) Simple search rules,
(2) Simple stopping rules, and
(3) Simple decision rules.
The primary reasons one should care about fast and frugal heuristics is that they:
(A) Are ecologically rational, meaning they can be implemented with limited time, mental effort, and other resources,
(B) In many cases perform as well as more sophisticated algorithms, and
(C) Provide insight into real life intelligences.
The heuristics presented here are not necessarily going to win in top Artificial Intelligence (AI) competitions, but are still surprisingly useful. These heuristics are more biological-like AI.
They appear to overstate the extent to which their evidence generalizes. They test their stock market heuristic on a mere six months worth of data. If they knew much about stock markets, they'd realize that there are a lot more bad heuristics which work for a few years at a time than there are good heuristics. I'll bet that theirs will do worse than random in most decades.
The book's conclusions can be understood by skimming small parts of the book. Most of the book is devoted to detailed discussions of the evidence. I suggest following the book's advice when reading it - don't try to evaluate all the evidence, just pick out a few pieces.
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