Wrong Paths & Self Delusions
How often do we prevent ourselves or are prevented by others from finding a solution? Only if you understand your susceptibilities to being lead astray can you fight to stay on the path of problem solving righteousness.

Challenges to Intuition

PROBLEM: In a two-child family, one child is a boy. What is the probability that the other child is a girl? (The
answer is at first counterintuitive.)

PROBLEM: You're chosen as a contestant on "Let's Make a Deal". Monty Hall tells you that your dream car is behind one of 3 doors on stage and behind the other 2 doors are goats. You choose door #3. Monty then reveals that behind door #1 is a goat and offers you the opportunity to change your choice to door #2. Should you? The
answer is revealed in the movie "21".

Rationalization of false world views

PROBLEM: What causes the seasons? (
If you want to see more of yourself in a mirror, should you step forward or backward? (Think about it, then try it.)

Challenges of Intelligence

One of the big lessons of behavioral economics is that intelligence can make you stupid. A great example of this is told by Isaac Asimov in a joke entitled "What is intelligence, anyway?"

A popular book on the subject of mistaken intelligence is
Belsky and Gilovich's Why Smart People Make Big Money Mistakes. The reasons we so distort our views of reality lie in our ego-centrism. We take what Nobel laureate Danny Kahneman calls the "inside view" with all of its accompanying biases. Instead, we should really take the "outside view" and consider the real world statistics for all "cases" similar to ours.

Dogma and Deception

Science is not so different from business. In order to make a profit, you need to sell your product. Messages are crafted in ways that engender buy-in. But such crafting can make it difficult to honestly evaluate the message and consider alternatives. As problem solvers, we need to be able to isolate the essential problems free from the biases passed down from others. We'll study Derren Brown's "Mind Control" techniques in order to expose how deeply our own thinking can be distorted by others.

SPOILER ALERT: If you're taking the class, don't look at the answers.