Decision Making

Cognition, Opportunity, and Learning a New Language

English has a wider global reach than any language in history.

It has become the world’s lingua franca in a range of domains, including business, politics, science, technology, academia, and entertainment.

On top of that, real-time language translation technology continues to get faster and more accurate.

Why, then, would a native English speaker in today’s world want or need to learn another language?

Fast and Frugal Heuristics for Making Decisions Under Uncertainty

We all make decisions every day, usually a lot of them, some more important than others. Almost none of these choices are made under optimal decision-making conditions.

One condition that can complicate decision-making is uncertainty.

Sometimes we can’t reliably predict the results of our decisions. We can’t figure out the probable outcome. We don’t know all of the possible alternatives, and we can’t estimate the probabilities. Important information may be lacking, and a strategy that may have been optimal in the past might not work now.

Some situations may also simply be too novel to provide any useful data, so we can’t rely on probability or statistics to guide us. Any analytical approach we attempt to take to the problem will likely lead to significant prediction errors.

Uncertainty inherently involves inaccurate or incomplete information. Therefore, to make fast, accurate decisions under uncertainty, we may need to rely on cognitive strategies that deliberately ignore some information.

Improve Your Intuition to Hone Your Hunches

Albert Einstein and Steve Jobs both regarded the intellect as secondary to intuition. Jonas Salk spoke of intuition tossing ideas up to him “like gifts from the sea.” Alan Turing said that mathematical reasoning resulted from two facilities: intuition and ingenuity. Henri Poincare believed that we prove things through science, but that we discover them through intuition.

Many of the world’s great thinkers and doers have been strong believers in the power of intuition. Probably because they were naturally gifted at applying their own well-developed intuitive abilities.

But what about the rest of us? How do we understand intuition better, and can we do anything to make ourselves more intuitive? Can we get into a mindset where we trust our hunches enough to follow them through?

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