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Week 1 Introduction & After-The-Fact Method

Autor: preet197  •  February 4, 2019  •  Course Note  •  1,208 Words (5 Pages)  •  48 Views

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Week 1 Introduction & After-the-Fact Method

Thursday, 6 December 2018

5:22 PM


The after-the-fact method works because even though it requires little time and effort it enables us to achieve subjective certainty for now, potentially even for life, in an objectively uncertain world. And certainty is a valuable commodity in an uncertain world. If you can mentally afford to remember one other thing about the after-thefact method, then remember this: Because we can't mentally or emotionally afford too many doubts, we not only jump to conclusions but we've also developed automatic damage control methods to help us defend those conclusions, and to maintain our self-confidence. The rule may be as simple as: 'Believe or remember the last answer you heard.' Experimental psychologists call this the 'recency effect'. This helps explain why, if we have no particular culturally acquired bias, we fall back on a neurological bias and tend to remember the last thing we heard, the one still cycling around our neurons. In Kahneman's terms recent memories are more accessible, and so more likely to be included in our conclusions.


The after-the-fact tool may not be our best route to 'the truth', nevertheless, when the truth isn't readily accessible, this crude, but affordable, method helps us construct and maintain enough certainty to stay in the game, to walk into the future with confidence, based on incomplete information and naive premises though it may be.


Remember, the after-the-fact model is simple. An observation (0) is made. A murdered man is found, or a patient is diagnosed as depressed, or Diana slaps Derek. Next we attempt to decide what previous event, (X), led to (0), or what previous events were necessary in order for (0) to occur. In the language of common sense we are asking what caused (0). In the language of science we are asking what key antecedent (s) (Xs) were linked to the selected consequence (0). There are usually several possible (Xs), that is, several antecedents (causes) that could lead to a given consequence. The problem we face at the top of the PST is to select the most probable one(s): Xj? X2? X3? . . . Xn?


Also keep in mind three specific decision aids the courts employ to cut complex problems down to manageable size: a time frame, a theory frame, and experts or specialists.


Time frames

Whenever a long period of time separates the cause and the effect—whenever there are many dots occurring in that interval—then all problem solving (pre-scientific and scientific) becomes more complicated, more prone to error, and more likely to be truth free.  The courts focus on the time of death and where each of the suspects was at that time.

We rely heavily on time frames to help us rule in, and rule out, suspected causes. Notice that we are also relying on the premise or the assumption that events are the result of factors immediately preceding them. This assumption works unless the 'cause' has a delayed action such as conception and birth, or early childhood trauma and adult personality disorders.


Theory frames

Remember how the justice system relied heavily on the premise, on the theory, that crimes are driven by motives (e.g., greed, jealousy, lust, or hate)? While time markers help shrink problems to mind-size, theory frames (premises, assumptions, and biases) shrink them still further. Theories are premises, or sets of assumptions, about how the world works. Since we can't see into the future, we walk into it on bridges of belief, on our pet theories. All of us do it. Even scientists.


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