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Talking Point and Summary: Week 3

We have thought about rationality and some of the reasons why we seem to depart from rationality, caused ultimately by the comparative, rather than

This week, we have thought about rationality and some of the reasons why we seem to depart from rationality, caused ultimately by the comparative, rather than absolute, focus of the brain.

In this video I talk with Jess about the common themes of the third week. Jess has also summarised the week’s themes here.

Next time, we will see how the fact that we can only compare and do not really know the absolute value of any quantity (size, money, risk, pain) can help explain some of the puzzling, and apparently irrational, peculiarities of human decision making.

Week 3 Experiment

This week’s experiment looks at how you weigh up risks and rewards.

Week 3 experiment

This experiment ran in 2013 and, now that the results have been processed, the website is no longer maintained, so may not be fully accessible or current and technical support is not available. Participants are encouraged to try the experiment in order to test this week’s theories in practice and see how their results compare with the overall findings. However, participation in the experiments is not essential to the learning outcomes of the course.

Talking Point

Before we move to Week 4 we’d be really interested to know how you’re finding the course this week, so please leave a comment or share some part of your experience so far in the discussion below:

  • Is there a situation or scenario you can imagine where a ‘money pump’ is not a good thing?
  • Is there anything happening in the news recently that you can relate to the ‘unstable trade-off’ from this week?
  • Do you agree with the implications I talk about when discussing the difference between £1,000,001 and £1,000,005?

On a scale of 1 to 10 (where 10 is a ‘believer’ and 1 is not) how much do you now subscribe to the idea of a ‘flat’ mind? It’ll be interesting to compare your answer here your previous weeks and see if anything has changed in either your understanding or appreciation of the idea or concept of a flat mind.

Don’t forget to contribute to the discussion by reviewing comments made by other learners, making sure you provide constructive feedback and commentary. You can also ‘like’ comments or follow other learners throughout the course.

Next Week

Next week we will focus on the puzzling fact that, while under carefully controlled laboratory conditions, we seem to make all kinds of horrible reasoning errors.

We will see how human intelligence, in dealing with the real world, far exceeds any artificial intelligence system we build. We will see one particularly interesting aspect of this contrast, by considering how our brains see the world in terms of stories.


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The Mind is Flat: The Shocking Shallowness of Human Psychology

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