To Bridge Intuition and Logic (1) -Theory comes from practice


Roughly speaking, in the field of cognitive science, there seems to be two major domains: the group of scientists who emphasize the reliability of quantitative data and doubt the effectiveness of qualitative evaluation; The other group who point out weak aspects of quantitative analysis and still trust qualitative approach.

Researchers on Heuristics & Biases theories (proposed by Danny Kahneman and Amos Tversky), the mainstream of decision science and economics (i.e. Hebert A. Simon) and all AI researchers belong to the first group. Most of them don't trust intuition because even experts in any field often make mistakes by making wrong judgments and decisions.

Contrary to the first group, major researchers of the second group are researchers of Naturalistic Decision Making (NDM). Gary Klein is one of the founders of NDM as I repeatedly introduced in my blog. While we NDMers admit the fact that intuitive decision making could cause mistakes and even terrible consequences, we do continue our studies on intuition and expertise. Why?

The first reason is that, throughout history of human wisdom, all scientific findings and theories came from practice.

The above photo is the Mathematical bridge at the University of Cambridge. William Etheridge, an English civil engineer, designed the bridge. Then, James Essex, an architect, built it in 1749. The mathematical and engineering significance is that this bridge is composed of only straight timbers: To avoid bending stress and compression, tangent and radical trussing are designed.

Etheridge was originally a carpenter, not a famous mathematician like Isaac Newton. Although he did not have strong his mathematical background, he could intuitively understand tangent and radical trussing from his work experience. He would have built the bridge through error and trial. In a nutshell, he developed tangent radical trussing and applied mathematics to bridge architecture. Trial and error -experience is the first. theory and its application are the second.

There is the second reason for our studying NDM.

To be continued....

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