Following the schedule of our reading calendar
The first time I read about Linda experiment I felt like Carlos when evaluating Tom W. problem. It was like: Come on! Everybody knows that being a bank teller is more probable than being a bank teller AND blah, blah, blah. People participating in the experiment have misunderstood “more probable” with “more plausible” or something alike. “Probable” is not a well defined word and people tend to guess what the problem is really about by taking clues on what information is given.
One has to be very critical with experiments like those. Piaget the psychologist thought that children under the age of four didn’t possess the concept of number, and had this elegant experiment to prove it. He showed four years old kids two set of marbles, distributed like this:
1) o o o o o o
2) o o o o
When asked in which row there were more marbles most children choose the second row. So, according to Piaget, four year old children confuse quantity with occupying space. The more space you cover the more elements you have
Decades later, other psychologists replicated the experiment but with an interesting twist. Instead of marbles they used sweets. So when asked in which row there were more sweets, they still choose row 2, but, when invited to choose one row and get all the sweets in that row, guess what? They all choose row 1.
So the kids did know the concept of number. They just didn’t understood the question.
Nevertheless after reareading this chapter I found the experiment on people being older than 55 and having heart attacks, and the numbers of errors decreased highly if instead of talking about percentages, one was asked about 100 people, I’m not sure what to say. If such a small change transforms results so greatly, maybe this is system one getting in the way of system 2.