Using Cognitive Science to Produce Better Research
If you find yourself skimming everything and absorbing nothing, re-build your information portfolio, intelligently and deliberately, with publications that deliver unique content and improve your performance.
“It takes a huge investment in introspection to learn that the thirty or more hours spent ‘studying’ the news last month neither had any predictive ability during your activities of that month nor did it impact your current knowledge of the world." Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Save Time. Be More Informed.
Reading just 4 publications that are 40% correlated will deliver the same information as reading 100 publications that are 60% correlated.
The High Price of Free Research
In one particularly salient experiment on the subject, Nobel Prize winning cognitive scientists, Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman tell subjects that a group consists of 70 engineers and 30 lawyers. Without providing any additional information, they asked the subjects what the probability is that a particular individual selected from that group is an engineer. They correctly judged it to be 70%.
They then provided the following personality sketch of the individual in question.
“Dick is a 30 year old man. He is married with no children. A man of high ability and high motivation, he promises to be quite successful in his field. He is well liked by his colleagues.”
The description was meant to convey no information relevant to the question. Therefore, when asked again what the probability is of him being an engineer, the answer should have remained 70%. However, the subjects now judged the probability to be 50% after reading what was essentially worthless information.
“Evidently, people respond differently when given no evidence and when given worthless evidence. When no specific evidence is given, prior probabilities are properly utilized; when worthless evidence is given, prior probabilities are ignored.”
Armed with the evidence that even perfectly innocuous information can have a detrimental impact on your ability to make rational decisions, does it make you question the real cost of all that free research flooding your inbox?