Halesworth - Films/Festivals

Science Cafe – Fast and Slow thinking – March

Professor Laura  Bowater chair person for the evening

1. Dr Gary Barker, Research Leader of the Institute of Food Research

Risk adverse when we loose, but risk prepared if we are to gain.
eg Loose 90 or win 100.

How do we decide if we go to the doctor or not?

Influenced by the book THINKING FAST AND SLOW by DANIEL KAHNEMAN (2012)

Fast, intuitive thinking, and slow, rational thinking. How our minds are tripped up by error and prejudice (even when we think we are being logical).
eg description of a man in a sharp suite, is he a teacher or a footballer? You will guess footballer, even though teacher is more likely.
“System 1” and “System 2”.

System 1 is fast, intuitive, associative, metaphorical, automatic, impressionistic, and it can’t be switched off. Its operations involve no sense of intentional control, but it’s the “secret author of many of the choices and judgments you make”

System 2 is slow, deliberate, effortful. Its operations require attention. (To set it going now, ask yourself the question “What is 13 x 27?” And to see how it hogs attention, go to theinvisiblegorilla.com/videos.html and follow the instructions faithfully.) System 2 takes over, rather unwillingly, when things get difficult. It’s “the conscious being you call ‘I'”, and one of Kahneman’s main points is that this is a mistake. You’re wrong to identify with System 2, for you are also and equally and profoundly System 1. Kahneman compares System 2 to a supporting character who believes herself to be the lead actor and often has little idea of what’s going on.

System 2 is slothful, and tires easily (a process called “ego depletion”) – so it usually accepts what System 1 tells it.

It’s often right to do so, because System 1 is for the most part pretty good at what it does; it’s highly sensitive to subtle environmental cues, signs of danger, and so on. It kept our remote ancestors alive. It loves to simplify, to assume WYSIATI (“what you see is all there is”), even as it gossips and embroiders and confabulates. It’s hopelessly bad at the kind of statistical thinking often required for good decisions, it jumps wildly to conclusions and it’s subject to a fantastic suite of irrational biases and interference effects (the halo effect, the “Florida effect”, framing effects, anchoring effects, the confirmation bias, outcome bias, hindsight bias, availability bias, the focusing illusion, and so on).

Trump and System 1. Brexit System 1filters information to suit the existing bias – the HALO effect. Numbers have greater bias than concepts.

Dr Michael Grey a neuroscientist  of the school of Medicine and Health Sciences at  UEA with Alison Welsh a Ph D student


Michael Grey works particularly with respect to acquired brain injury, including both stroke and mild traumatic brain injury (concussion).

You CAN teach an old dog new tricks. The damaged part does not repair but another part compensates.

Alison talked of brain food: Suduko and another word game – keep expanding
80% dark chocolate and green tea.
Andrew Marr example – too much exercise? Wrong type of exercise.

Next Cut Science Cafe will be on Thursday 28 September.

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