Daniel Kahneman

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Daniel Kahneman

Postby runstrails » Tue Feb 04, 2014 4:33 pm

Hi,
Has anyone read stuff by Daniel Kahneman? He is a Nobel prize (for Economics) winning psychologist. He talks about the 'experiencing self' and the 'remembering self' and the differences between them. Here is a short interview: http://www.ttbook.org/book/transcript/t ... ering-self
He has a book called Thinking Fast and Slow and I was wondering if anyone had read it (Andy, Kathleen?). Perhaps I might check it out.
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Re: Daniel Kahneman

Postby randomguy » Wed Feb 05, 2014 4:58 pm

"So, the time that we spend remembering and the time we spend living are on different scales and yet we give enormous importance to the time that we spend remembering and to the memories and to the stories we tell. " - Kahneman

What is it like when the importance of the stories is not there?
Do the yellow-rose petals
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at the rapid's roar?
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Re: Daniel Kahneman

Postby rachMiel » Wed Feb 05, 2014 5:11 pm

randomguy wrote:What is it like when the importance of the stories is not there?

Let them go and see. :-)
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Re: Daniel Kahneman

Postby Sighclone » Sun Feb 09, 2014 6:56 am

I have not read Kahneman's work. He appears to be a fairly clinical guy with some creative ideas about how we make decisions. The hardline nondualists would argue that we do not make free-will decisions at all. Perhaps that would be possible in his theory in some way, however, wrapped up in neural pathways and also sense of identity, brain zone triggering...etc...beyond my pay grade.

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Re: Daniel Kahneman

Postby KathleenBrugger » Sun Feb 09, 2014 10:10 pm

Yes I've read Thinking Fast and Slow. I'm posting my Goodreads review below. Kahneman won the Nobel Prize for work on a problem he calls the "illusion of validity" which he describes as ‘the sense that you understand somebody and can predict how they will behave’--this was from his own work with soldiers in Israel, trying to predict who would make good officers. After watching the work of the men who became officers he realized how poor his predictions were. He has since expanded this cognitive bias to ‘a tendency for people to view their own beliefs as reality.’

What I got out of the book is that most of us think our conscious minds are in control of our lives and that is a huge error. Kahneman describes experiment after experiment that shows that subconscious processes are at work that have a huge impact on our attitude in any given moment. For example, priming can alter your perception and actions. If I show you a yellow balloon and then ask you to name a fruit, you are much more likely to say "banana" than if I had shown you a red balloon.

One experiment I liked is something you can try right now: hold a pencil crosswise in your mouth so the point and eraser stick out towards your ears. Think about how happy you feel about your life today. Then take the pencil and put one end in your mouth so it’s sticking straight out. Think about your life now. Was there any difference in the way you felt? The experiments show that when the pencil is crosswise people are more positive than when it’s straight in because holding the pencil crosswise causes the muscles of your face to be in a grinning posture, while the other causes the muscles to form a frowning posture. Just this physical manipulation causes our minds to think differently, again without our conscious control.

Here's a quote I pulled out from the introduction to the third section of the book:
The main theme of part 3…describes a puzzling limitation of our mind: our excessive confidence in what we believe we know, and our apparent inability to acknowledge the full extent of our ignorance and the uncertainty of the world we live in. We are prone to overestimate how much we understand about the world and to underestimate the role of chance in events. Overconfidence is fed by the illusory certainty of hindsight.

The thinking fast and slow refers to what are called System 1 and System 2 in psychology.
System 1 operates automatically and quickly, with little or no effort and no sense of voluntary control. System 2 allocates attention to the most effortful mental activities that demand it, including complex computations. The operations of System 2 are often associated with the subjective experience of agency, choice, and concentration...When we think of ourselves, we identify with System 2, the conscious, reasoning self that has beliefs, makes choices, and decides what to think about and what to do. Although System 2 believes itself to be where the action is, the automatic System 1 is the hero of the book. I describe System 1 as effortlessly originating impressions and feelings that are the main source of the explicit beliefs and deliberate choices of System 2.

When you're playing tennis, System 1 is what guides you across the court and swings your arm out in a backhand move that actually makes contact with the ball. System 2 is the thought, "I hope that good-looking man/woman over there on the sidelines saw me make that awesome shot" with the plan to go over and flirt after the game. After having a thought like this, you'll probably miss the next shot.

My Goodreads review:

Dr. Kahneman gives the reader a glimpse into the latest research on the mind, revealing that a vast amount of mental processing takes place beneath the level of consciousness. Most of us believe we're the conscious author of our thoughts and behaviors, but neuroscience is showing that that belief is wrong.

Our conscious mind constantly spins stories to make sense of our own inexplicable behavior (caused by the subconscious processes) and the behavior of others, but, Dr. Kahneman informs us, "Our comforting conviction that the world makes sense rests on a secure foundation: our almost unlimited ability to ignore our ignorance."

Some of the information is actually frightening, like "hindsight bias," which means that we have trouble remembering the past accurately. We tend to attribute our current knowledge to our past self, and have trouble believing that we ever thought differently.

Perhaps my favorite example from the book is a study of judges in Israel who spend all day considering requests for parole. Sixty-five percent of requests for parole were granted right after the judges had eaten, dropping steadily to zero just before the judges’ next meal. If you asked the judges about their decisions, do you think they would be aware of this tendency to get grumpier as they got hungry, or do you think they would believe they were being equally neutral and fair throughout the day? I imagine the latter would be the case.

Dr. Kahneman cites other studies involving associative thinking (for example: think of “banana” and “vomit,” now try to think of a banana without feeling slightly sick) and priming (think of “yellow,” now think of “fruit”—you probably thought “banana” because you were primed with the idea of yellow). These studies, Kahneman asserts, “have yielded discoveries that threaten our self-image as conscious and autonomous authors of our judgments and our choices.”

Much of the second half of this book is an extended examination of the flaws in our decision making based on the ordinary workings of our minds. For example, the "planning fallacy" means that almost everyone creates forecasts that “are unrealistically close to best-case scenarios and could be improved by consulting the statistics of similar cases.”

We are, Dr. Kahenman concludes, "strangers to ourselves." What did I learn from this book? Be humble about what you think you know.
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Re: Daniel Kahneman

Postby randomguy » Sun Feb 09, 2014 11:28 pm

What a great summary, Kathleen.

"Our comforting conviction that the world makes sense rests on a secure foundation: our almost unlimited ability to ignore our ignorance." I like that.

This seems like the most worthwhile focus in psychology if you ask me, experiments that illuminate our ability to fool ourselves. Good stuff.
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Re: Daniel Kahneman

Postby KathleenBrugger » Mon Feb 10, 2014 3:10 am

randomguy wrote:What a great summary, Kathleen.

"Our comforting conviction that the world makes sense rests on a secure foundation: our almost unlimited ability to ignore our ignorance." I like that.

This seems like the most worthwhile focus in psychology if you ask me, experiments that illuminate our ability to fool ourselves. Good stuff.

I got into the habit of taking notes on books some years ago and it's always nice when I have a reason to use them! I agree with you that this is a good function of psychology: provide further reason for us to be humble.
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Re: Daniel Kahneman

Postby vinay » Mon Dec 01, 2014 5:45 am

I am a big fan of Eckhart and Kahneman.

One question that makes me curious is: Where does Kahneman and Eckhart intersect? I don't know the answer but here are some thoughts.

Kahneman's recent research is on well-being and how to measure it. He experimentally found out that the answers to the questions "How happy are you right now?" and "How satisfied are you with your life right now?" could be very different. He called the entity that answers the first question experiencing-self and the entity answering the second question remembering-self. One big variable in which they differ is in the role time plays in their evaluation. Remembering self ignores time while experiencing-self is, by definition, gives you moment-to-moment happiness. He observed that the happiness surveys based on which country's happiness index is created was judging only the remembering-self of people.

Where does Kahneman's work intersect with Eckhart's teaching? First, similarities: (1) Both say that thoughts and emotions distort your perception of the situation in an automatic and reflexive way. And you are mostly not even aware of it. (2) Memories of happiness and experienced happiness are different things. And we tend to give too much weight to memories of happiness.

Where do they differ? Kahneman admits that his biases haven't changed in spite of writing a book on the topic. So he is not very hopeful of "How to" approaches to de-bias oneself. Eckhart, on the other hand, emphasizes a practice of subtracting time from your thinking (i.e. dropping thoughts which are about past or future which are not playing a useful function). I haven't heard of Kahneman trying out any kind of "observing the movement of thought" kind of exercises - what Ekchart calls mini-meditations. I could be wrong here.
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Re: Daniel Kahneman

Postby Phil2 » Mon Dec 01, 2014 9:41 am

KathleenBrugger wrote:
We are, Dr. Kahenman concludes, "strangers to ourselves." What did I learn from this book? Be humble about what you think you know.


Interesting posting Kathleen thanks ...

As Mooji has put it jokingly: "Mind is a failure device" ...

:lol:

In the same order, here are some quotes from Eckhart Tolle about the deceitful nature of thought:


"Don't trust the mind. It is an illusion making machine!"
(Eckhart Tolle)


"Here is a new spiritual practice for you: don't take your thoughts too seriously."
(Eckhart Tolle)

"It's not that you solve problems by thinking, you create problems by thinking" (Eckhart Tolle - Findhorn)
"What irritates us about others is an opportunity to learn on ourselves"
(Carl Jung)
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Re: Daniel Kahneman

Postby Onceler » Mon Dec 01, 2014 1:45 pm

Thanks Kathleen, great review. I have often thought that my experience of spirituality and percieved changes in myself are very distorted. Someone should devise a more objective marker, system for evaluating personal growth to get around the distortion of memory....perhaps a scale you could complete every few months with standard questions and a narrative.

Also, along with the 'best case' bias, there must surely be a worst case bias many of us project as well.....perhaps this isn't as much a part of decision making as the perception of happiness in the moment.
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Re: Daniel Kahneman

Postby KathleenBrugger » Mon Dec 01, 2014 6:14 pm

Onceler wrote:Thanks Kathleen, great review. I have often thought that my experience of spirituality and percieved changes in myself are very distorted. Someone should devise a more objective marker, system for evaluating personal growth to get around the distortion of memory....perhaps a scale you could complete every few months with standard questions and a narrative.

Also, along with the 'best case' bias, there must surely be a worst case bias many of us project as well.....perhaps this isn't as much a part of decision making as the perception of happiness in the moment.

What an awesome idea Onceler! I am a great believer in objective records precisely because memory can be so full of errors. Years ago I worked as a restaurant manager, and was at the same restaurant for a number of years. This was in a resort town, with wide swings between seasons. During the slow season the waiters would start griping about how slow it was, until I'd pull out the record from the year before of how many diners had been in on that day, and almost every time it showed the waiter was wildly over-exaggerating what he or she had made the year before.

So to develop an objective scale for spiritual progress, how valuable that would be! Because that "worst case" bias you mention is alive and well in most of us. This is our ego-identity which is always down on our selves (the source of self-directed thoughts like "why didn't you think to say this" or "you screwed up again" or "you're just not good enough to get that job" or…). Most people tend to underestimate their spiritual progress, in my experience. We change gradually and it can be hard to see our incrementally-better relationships, attitudes, etc. Plus its easy to get the expectation we should become spiritual super-persons immediately, particularly with some examples like ET, Byron Katie, and Adyashanti. "What's the matter with me that I don't just get it immediately," we complain to ourselves. I'll be thinking about your idea for a spiritual progress recorder you can be sure! :D
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Re: Daniel Kahneman

Postby KathleenBrugger » Mon Dec 01, 2014 6:45 pm

vinay wrote:I am a big fan of Eckhart and Kahneman.

One question that makes me curious is: Where does Kahneman and Eckhart intersect? I don't know the answer but here are some thoughts.

Kahneman's recent research is on well-being and how to measure it. He experimentally found out that the answers to the questions "How happy are you right now?" and "How satisfied are you with your life right now?" could be very different. He called the entity that answers the first question experiencing-self and the entity answering the second question remembering-self. One big variable in which they differ is in the role time plays in their evaluation. Remembering self ignores time while experiencing-self is, by definition, gives you moment-to-moment happiness. He observed that the happiness surveys based on which country's happiness index is created was judging only the remembering-self of people.

Where does Kahneman's work intersect with Eckhart's teaching? First, similarities: (1) Both say that thoughts and emotions distort your perception of the situation in an automatic and reflexive way. And you are mostly not even aware of it. (2) Memories of happiness and experienced happiness are different things. And we tend to give too much weight to memories of happiness.

Where do they differ? Kahneman admits that his biases haven't changed in spite of writing a book on the topic. So he is not very hopeful of "How to" approaches to de-bias oneself. Eckhart, on the other hand, emphasizes a practice of subtracting time from your thinking (i.e. dropping thoughts which are about past or future which are not playing a useful function). I haven't heard of Kahneman trying out any kind of "observing the movement of thought" kind of exercises - what Ekchart calls mini-meditations. I could be wrong here.

What a fascinating analysis, vinay. Your emphasis on time making the difference between happiness and satisfaction is quite astute. And I think you are correct in that Dr. Kahneman does not get into "how to" at all. He's more about investigating how the mind works, which is really valuable, but its also valuable to have the people who can help us see a way out of the distortion.

Interestingly, the New York Times had an article last week about the difference between happiness and satisfaction if anyone is interested.
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Re: Daniel Kahneman

Postby vinay » Tue Dec 02, 2014 3:56 am

KathleenBrugger wrote:So to develop an objective scale for spiritual progress, how valuable that would be! Because that "worst case" bias you mention is alive and well in most of us. ...I'll be thinking about your idea for a spiritual progress recorder you can be sure! :D


Kathleen, Thanks for bringing up the topic of objective spiritual progress indicator. Here is a thread on this forum titled "Stages along the awakening process" that is giving some pointers. (viewtopic.php?f=13&t=12566)

Here is the blog link that it points to:
http://happinessbeyondthought.blogspot. ... a-new.html

It presents 4 stages of the spiritual progress (denoted by location-1, 2, 3 & 4). It is not a precise scale. But it gives an idea.
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Re: Daniel Kahneman

Postby KathleenBrugger » Wed Dec 03, 2014 5:00 am

vinay wrote:
KathleenBrugger wrote:So to develop an objective scale for spiritual progress, how valuable that would be! Because that "worst case" bias you mention is alive and well in most of us. ...I'll be thinking about your idea for a spiritual progress recorder you can be sure! :D

Kathleen, Thanks for bringing up the topic of objective spiritual progress indicator. Here is a thread on this forum titled "Stages along the awakening process" that is giving some pointers. (viewtopic.php?f=13&t=12566)

Here is the blog link that it points to:
http://happinessbeyondthought.blogspot. ... a-new.html

It presents 4 stages of the spiritual progress (denoted by location-1, 2, 3 & 4). It is not a precise scale. But it gives an idea.

Actually I have to give the credit to Onceler. :D You may notice that I participated in that thread that you linked, but at that earlier time I didn't read the links embedded in the blog post. This time I did, and this link has a more detailed look at the 4 stages. After reading this I don't think its a description of a scale of spiritual progress. It's really more about describing various states of nondual/mystical awareness. The researcher says that for many people he interviewed there is no progression, no movement on the scale, they have an experience that lands them somewhere on the continuum and that’s basically it.

What Onceler meant (I think), and definitely what I meant, was a way to measure your progress in things like: how much you accept the way it is in any moment, the speed at which you drop negative emotions, improvement in relationships, and the amount that gratitude replaces frustration, compassion replaces judgment, peace replaces anxiety, etc.
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Re: Daniel Kahneman

Postby Onceler » Wed Dec 03, 2014 12:39 pm

Exactly, Kathleen.....I like your measures. Something a little more empirical than a fuzzy sense that something has changed. I do a little journaling, but even that is hard to make sense of when one is looking back into past entries. I give the BASC-2, a roughly 140 question scale to kids to ascertain their current emotionl/behavioral functioning. I give a baseline test when they come to our school and an exit test. It's a nice way to see progress and changes. Then, of course, there are teacher/parent scales regarding the behavior of the child.....
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