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# Using Probabilities Consciously, Essay Example

Pages: 1

Words: 333

Essay

The use of probability in our everyday decision-making processes seems self-evident: for example, using the data conveyed on the weather report concerning the probability of precipitation may determine whether one spends a pleasant afternoon at the beach or decides to dedicate oneself to studying. In this regard, there seems to be a clear ubiquity of probability in decision making. The question, however, becomes more complicated when one considers the question of consciousness: are we conscious of our reliance on probability to make our decisions?

Some of our norms of logic and reasoning are so engrained in our everyday behaviors that it often is not clear that we utilize them. There is thus a crucial difference between applying a skill such as reasoning according to probability and being conscious of utilizing this same skill. Some may suggest that this is a trivial distinction: if the method works why worry about the means used to achieve the end?

But this is the precise point: there is no fool proof method in decision making. Therefore, effective decision making policies are enacted by those who are conscious of the precise norms and methods of reasoning and choice that are being employed. This arguably helps in two main ways: firstly, by being conscious of the methods we use for reasoning, we understand that they are context-dependent. Using probability, for example, to decide whether one should order Chinese food or Mexican food is not the proper approach to this question. Thinking about how we think lets us become clear upon the appropriateness of various decision making tools. Secondly, by being conscious of the approach being used, we become aware of our possible limitations in understanding how this approach itself works. The classic example here is the gambler, who after losing 10 times in a row, says “I’m bound to win now” or “I’m due.” This is an inappropriate way to use probability: by being conscious of what probability and other reasoning tools really tell us, we can more effectively use them.

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