Choice: How do we make Right Decisions? (PSE)
If we have the right question and the right factual answer.
Will we make the right decision? Will we do the right thing?
[We looked at 'the right question' (and the right answer) quickly in "Q&A: the right question, anyone? (PSE)"
< http://www.gotoknow.org/blogs/posts/472613 >. We reviewed the Buddha's principle for verifying truth in a model described in Kesamutti sutta in "Belief: Is Learning (a kind of) Believing? (PSE)" < http://www.gotoknow.org/blogs/posts/473288 >. (Note: the principle in scientific methods is to trust nothing and no-one but to verify all 'factual evidence'.)]
We recall our learning of Plain and Simple English is iterative (looping). At end of an iteration we have output which may or may not fit our purpose. How can we tell whether we have a good result or we have done well or not?
We can usually tell if we have set 'a standard measure' or we use a common standard measure (like a 'TASn.m' national standard). We make an assessment by following the measuring method or test prescribed by the standard. We compare our (test) result with the 'pass mark' set by the standard.
But in learning, we expect to learn more by each iteration. So, our later tests change to reflect the more we learn. We can set an 'adaptive test (standard)' by including tests for all changes from previous iterations.
loop 1: learn A ; at end test output for A
loop 2: learn B ; at end test output for A+B
loop 3: learn C ; at end test output for A+B+C
loop 4: learn D ; at end test output for A+B+C+D
(Some readers may note the increasing rate of change in our tests. As our simple learning become more and more complex, would we need more and more time to perform the tests?)
How often should we measure or test our fitness?
In PSE, a test is required at end of each iteration.
In school, a test may be carried out at end of each term or once-in-so-many iterations. In Nature, in some cases, a test can be life-or-death for pass-or-fail output of each 'action' within an iteration. This is 'quite close to' continuous assessment (fitness test). In practice, only each individual learner 'may' have enough 'data' and 'resources' to perform continuous testing. Teachers would have problems with amount of students' data and with her/his resources/time to test students' fitness in real-time.
What happens if we pass a test?
Congratulations! Very well done. We can go and play the next level now.
What happens if we fail a test?
Please revisit the last session and repeat the learning process then take the test again -- repeat until we pass.
[This repeat-a-class strategy is now considered more harm than good to learners. The argument that repeating 'a class' is destroying confidence, social respect and wasting time and a place in that class for another learner. In iterative learning, repeating an iteration or a session may be done in minutes or hours after school or at weekend -- not a whole year.]
What should be tested?
For PSE, we would test 'recognition' (memory),
'applications' (patterns of use) and
'adaptation' (evolution by small change or mutation).
What are tests for fitness practically about?
Tests usually come in as 'questions for answers' or 'challenges for reponses' or 'filling holes or gaps' or 'connecting the dots by certain rules'...
Learners use certain 'assumptions or beliefs or views' and 'facts or knowledge' (in memory) to make decisions that result in certain answers or responses or actions.
There are many factors and many styles involved in making any decision. We may be influenced by internal preferences or biases, capacity to retain or recall memory, personal circumstances and so on. We may be influenced by cultural and situational conditions, currencies or popular trends and many other external values. To make tests on learning isolated from these factors is in itself a matter of making the right decisions.
Notes on Decision:
(I read long ago): People prefer copying other or previous decisions (>80%) over reasoning (<10%) from (valid) facts and (logical) rules. Sometimes, people make decisions by intuition or personal preferences, and other times they ask experts or gods for advice. [People copy a lot of decisions made by asking experts or gods or trees or seers or ....]
(I learned): People don't like to make decisions 'on complex issues' or 'when they don't know enough' or 'where there are "noises" [ideologies, religions, beliefs, traditions, statistics, comments, Internet and so on]. So, they would go along with 'the default' -- thinking that the default is what the majority would decide. [Opinion polls and governments manipulate public responses this way.]
Statistics is included as a valid 'profiling' tool in science. There are good arguments for statistics in often occuring and 'normal' things. But statistics is useless when it comes to big floods, earthquakes, or once in a blue moon events that may impact a large number of people. Thus, statistics should be used appropriately.
(I noted): Different decisions can be made for the same issue by different age, sex, income, status, ethnic or cultural background and education. People don't just use facts publically available to them but also hidden private factors they consider important in priority order.
(I also noted): there are more decisions in favour of self-interest than altruistic or cooperative decisions even when the decisions are made for cooperative context. [This means politicians vote for a law (legislation) because they would benefit from the law more than because people would be better off by the law.]
More recent research [search and read 'Dan Ariely'] says: people's decisions are also influenced by 'appearance of honesty', 'sexual appeal', 'peer pressure', 'decisional illusions' (in the same way as visual illusions) and 'proximity to money'.
To put these in PSE terms: people cheat but only to a point that they (think they) still appear honest; people like decidedly more sexy outcome; people choose to belong to a group; people don't (know how to) scientifically verify facts; and people prefer money when they feel (they are) closer to (getting some) money.
A (70 years old) theory in cybernetics says: a way to control complexity is to match the source of variety. Learning in a way is increasing both variety and complexity. So, learning should allow us to control or master complexity.
[In learning PSE, we try to keep changes small in each iteration, in hope to vary (learn) the control a little.
But, we should note a recent theory of 'tipping point'; and an old saying about a straw that breaks the camel's back.]
What do all these mean?
What we do depends on what we choose to decide. What we decide (to choose) depends on so many other things -- not just our (publicly known) 'goal'. We learn more from what we do. We do more if we have (small) successes. Each success may depend on many decisions we need to make.
Once we succeed, we may be rich and famous for life.
What we fail may be remembered and used against us later.