Friday, October 21, 2011

David Brooks on Daniel Kahneman and Human Irrationality

The New York Times Columnist David Brooks writes in praise of Kahneman & Tversky. He emphasizes the tendency of the work of Kahneman & Tevrsky to show that fhuman beings frequently act irrationally. Fair enough. But what Brooks needs to emphasize a bit more is that subconscious processes have both successes as well as failures -- and it is possible that the rate of success is as striking as or even more striking than the rate of failure. If that weren't the case, we probably would all have been dead a long time ago.

The question of to what extent and under what circumstances "unthinking" human beings make mistakes is pertinent to many debates about evidence in legal cases -- for example, about false eyewitness identifications. The proponents of eyewitness identification reform sometimes exaggerate the relative frequency of incorrect identifications and perhaps underestimate or underplay the capacity of the legal system to correct for such errors (for example, by allowing or insisting on multiple lines of evidence of identity and by allowing adversaries to test the accuracy of eyewitness identifications by using devices such as cross-examination and evidence about witnesses' eyesight and the circumstances under which an identification was made).


The dynamic evidence page
Evidence marshaling software MarshalPlan
It's here: the law of evidence on Spindle Law. See also this post and this post.
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