Random Excellence – Bailouts, Biases, Boxplots

(A good title, stolen from TOP, and repurposed a bit).

1. A nice graphical depiction of the stimulus package, at the Washington post

2. An interesting JDM article on the independence of cognitive ability and biases, via Marginal Revolution. Abstract:

In 7 different studies, the authors observed that a large number of thinking biases are uncorrelated with cognitive ability. These thinking biases include some of the most classic and well-studied biases in the heuristics and biases literature, including the conjunction effect, framing effects, anchoring effects, outcome bias, base-rate neglect, ‘less is more’ effects, affect biases, omission bias, myside bias, sunk-cost effect, and certainty effects that violate the axioms of expected utility theory. In a further experiment, the authors nonetheless showed that cognitive ability does correlate with the tendency to avoid some rational thinking biases, specifically the tendency to display denominator neglect, probability matching rather than maximizing, belief bias, and matching bias on the 4-card selection task. The authors present a framework for predicting when cognitive ability will and will not correlate with a rational thinking tendency.

The framework alluded to in that last sentence is worth a look. Basically, the explanation hinges on whether subjects have “mindware” available, time resources, and reflexes to trigger an (unbiased) analytical solution when a (biased) heuristic response is unwarranted. This seems to be applicable to dynamic decision making tasks as well: people use heuristics (like pattern matching), because they don’t have the requisite mindware (understanding of dynamics) or triggers (recognition that dynamics matter).

3. A nice monograph on the construction of statistical graphics, via Statisitical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science Update: Bill Harris likes this one too.

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