- Series: Evolution and Cognition
- Paperback: 416 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (September 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0195143817
- ISBN-13: 978-0195143812
- Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 1.2 x 5.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 12 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,265,622 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Simple Heuristics That Make Us Smart 1st Edition
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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 That Make Us Smart and The Invisible Computer
"Gigerenzer & Todd's 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
"In recent years, and particularly in the culture wars, many people have written about rationality. These authors now provide a summary of this recent history, organized on the basis of different types of decision making. In each case, the authors summarize the literature so as to provide an implicit history. But the book is more fundamentally aimed at making rationality workable by showing 'the way that real people make the majority of their inferences and decisions.'"--Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences
"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
From the Author
How can anyone be rational in a world where knowledge is limited, time is pressing, and deep thought is often an unattainable luxury? In our book, "Simple Heuristics That Make Us Smart," we invite readers to embark on a new journey into a land of rationality that differs from the familiar territory of cognitive science and economics. Traditional models of rationality in these fields have tended to view decision-makers as possessing supernatural powers of reason, limitless knowledge, and an eternity in which to make choices. But to understand decisions in the real world, we need a different, more psychologically plausible notion of rationality. This book provides such a view. It is about fast and frugal heuristics-simple rules for making decisions with realistic mental resources. These heuristics can enable both living organisms and artificial systems to make smart choices, judgments, and predictions by employing bounded rationality.
But when and how can such fast and frugal heuristics work? What heuristics are in the mind's "adaptive toolbox," and what building blocks compose them? Can judgments based simply on a single reason be as accurate as those based on many reasons? Could having less knowledge even lead to systematically better predictions than having more knowledge? We explore these questions by developing computational models of heuristics and testing them through theoretical analysis and practical experiments with people. We show how fast and frugal heuristics can yield adaptive decisions in situations as varied as choosing a mate, dividing resources among offspring, predicting high-school drop-out rates, and profiting from the stock market.
We have worked to create an interdisciplinary book that is both useful and engaging and will appeal to a wide audience. It is intended for readers interested in cognitive psychology, evolutionary psychology, and cognitive science, as well as in economics and artificial intelligence. We hope that it will also inspire anyone who simply wants to make good decisions. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
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.
As a note, i'm picky when it comes both to writing and thinking. And i hate most books written by academics. Even the ones with good information (eg, Fodor's Modularity) are hard to read and filled with confusing, field-specific words. Not this book. It's really well written. Written in plain English, very few assumptions, very thorough analysis, lots of self-criticism, lots and lots of data (OK, that part is boring and can be skipped, but it's comforting to know it's there)
What's it about? Common AI, psych and economic decision and learning algorithms (decision trees, neural nets, Bayes, multiple linear regression, etc.) are compared to several absurdly simple algorithms the authors believe real humans use. The various approaches are compared and evaluated on the basis of performance, accuracy on training data, accuracy on test data (generalization) and amount of input data required. Tests are on the standard UC Irvine data learning test sets. Comparisions, outcome explanations and relevance to the human mind and the real world are provided. Explanations and analysises are easy to understand and pretty convincing
i've decided to use a lot of what was in this book in my software, things that have made my agents more natural and easier to implement. i absolutely love this book