Philosophy of Science: Rational decision-making

Mikayla Brier-Mills

Research output: Contribution to journalOnline ResourceProfessional


The simpler a message is conveyed, the better it is understood and the easier it is to find truth in what was said. However, simplicity is not always that accurate. If a decision strategy is formulated by three questions that are answered with a ‘yes or no’ – it would ignore other possible measured predictors; it would ignore quantitative results and it may be nothing but suggestive of inaccuracy. Asking three questions to formulate an entire decision can, in other words, be described as too fast and frugal. Fast because it would not involve much discernment and frugal because it would only search for a fraction of information in a large pool of available resources. Despite the suspicion that may arise from simple decision-making strategies, they are more accurate than complex statistical classification methods. This summary will address how why and when fast and frugal heuristics are successful.

The main purpose of fast and frugal heuristics is to understand how real minds operate when making a decision in a pressured and fast-paced working environment. Sometimes people have to make decisions with no assistance and with limited time, constrained knowledge and no Internet. In such situations the mind will always be apt to the simple (this occurs in exams, for instance). Nevertheless, some people think that other human beings have supernatural powers to make decisions with endless time and eternal knowledge. This is not true. It is a revolution completely contrary to reality, which has given rise to the probability theory, otherwise known as the probabilistic revolution in science and ordinary life. This first revolution is about how the mind deals with an uncertain world – and therefore the origins of this revolution lie within the fields of rationality.
Original languageEnglish
JournalWorldSupporter Blog
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jun 2017


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