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Stanovich Ch 10.docx

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Western University
Psychology 2800E
Patrick Brown

Stanovich Ch 10 The Achilles Heel of Human Cognition Probabilistic Reasoning there is a tendency for men to be taller than womena probabilistic trend it is more likely than not but does not hold true in all cases Russert died of a heart attackage 58 he was very healthy look pills exercised got stress tests yet still died earlythis lead many ppl to believe that the doctors must have missed somethingbut every failure to predict is not a mistake his doctors missed nothing his probability of heart attack in the next 10 years was 5 meaning that 95100 ppl with Russerts medical profile should not have died of a heart attack in the next 10 yrs medical science being probabilistic cannot tell us in advance who those unlucky 5 will be probabilistic prediction is REAL predictionbc it is numerical ppl sometimes have a hard time viewing it as real bc 5 out of the 100 cannot be specifically named in advance somehow ppl feel that the prediction is not as real as it should beppl have a hard time accepting the reality of probabilistic predictionthat they do not live in a world of certaintiesvirtually all the facts and relationships that have been uncovered by the science of psych are stated in terms of probabilities many of the laws and relationships in other sciences are stated in probabilities rather than certainties ex the entire subdiscipline of population geneticsPersonWho Statistics most of the public is aware that many of the conclusions of medical science are statements of probabilistic trends and are not predications of absolute certainty ex smoking causes lung cancersmoking vastly increases the probability of contracting lung cancer but does not make it a certainty how often have we seen a nonsmoker trying to convince a smoker to stop smoking by citing the smokinglung cancer statistics only to have the smoker come back with Look at Joe down at the store 3 packs a day since he was 16 81 yrs old and looks great this single case somehow invalidates the relationship there will always be a personwho goes against even the strongest of trends it could be argued that ppl actually know better and simply use the person who as a technique to invalidate facts that go against their opinions instead it appears tat this fallacious argument is used so frequently bc ppl experience great difficulty in dealing with probabilistic info Probabilistic Reasoning and the Misunderstanding of Psych the finding of psych are often misunderstood bc of the problems ppl have in dealing with probabilistic info
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