You walk into a room and find
Karen and Joe dead. The only
evidence at the scene is some
broken glass and a puddle of water.
How did Karen and Joe die?
Part I – Why LS 1?
Dr. Ann Harper Fender
Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Women
“This course was not awful
like I was warned.”
2003 LS 1 Student
“LS 1 was my favorite course.”
“I had both a fun and enlightening
time in LS 1.”
“LS 1 made me much more aware
of the world around me and helped
me engage in critical thinking.”
2003 LS 1 Students
“[My writings] have virtues
that cannot be disentangled
from the faults ... there is a
way of being wrong which is
also sometimes necessarily
right.”
Edward Abbey, 1967
THINK!
THINK!
Also think about HOW you think
The Importance of Fundamentals
?
Part II - Ways of Knowing (Fixing Belief)
 Induction – an argument from a random
sample to a population
 Deduction – an argument from a population
to a random sample
Ah, Chocolate…
More Chocolate…
And Even More Chocolate…
Conclusion
At Mrs. London’s…
But Then Arlene Lesher Ruined It…
Charles Sanders Peirce – Fixing Belief
Charles Sanders Peirce – Fixing Belief
 Beliefs (cling to) and Doubts (try to eliminate)
 Beliefs  Actions
 “Irritation of Doubt”  Inquiry
 Methods of Fixing Belief:

Tenacity

Authority

a priori – “Agreeable to Reason” / Induction

Science
 Science  Reals and Truth (only way to settle opinion)
 All investigators will eventually converge on the same truth
in the infinite long run
Some Examples From My Childhood
Tenacity
Authority
priori –
Reason
a
Science
Peirce Thinks We Must Choose Science
 Other three methods have some merits…
 But Peirce thinks we should want opinions to
coincide with facts; therefore we must ultimately
choose science
 If a person seeks to avoid the truth, s/he “is in a
sorry state of mind indeed.”
Other Thoughts on Fixing Belief & Science
 Charles Darwin: Painstaking observation leads to knowing
 Thomas Kuhn: “Normal science” is based upon past scientific
achievements and shared paradigms (common sets of
assumptions); there is a universal scientific language as well as
a cumulative nature to knowing
 Stephen Jay Gould: Knowledge is constantly changing –
“Facts” are always reassessed, reinterpreted, reconfigured, etc.
 Frank Conroy: Understanding is both a conscious and
unconscious process; can take years and is often triggered by
seemingly unrelated events
 Benjamin Whorf & Edward Sapir: Culture and language shape
each other and structure the way we perceive the world; thus
there isn’t a single reality
Some Questions to Think About
 Are “Reals” really independent of opinion?
 Can all questions be answered with science?
Part III
Problem Analysis and
Decision Making 101
The Rational Decision Making Process
Define/Diagnose
The Problem or
Issue
Develop
Alternative
Solutions
Evaluate
Alternatives
Choose Best
Alternative and
Implement It
Are Decision Making (Problem Analysis and
Solving) Processes Completely Rational?
Some recent examples:

Mate Choice & College Choice

8:00 Classes & Alarm Clocks

Traffic Patterns & The “Energy Bill”

9/11 Response
Josh’s Mate Choice Discussion…
8:00 Classes…
?
Mohan Stuck in Traffic in Boston…
9/11…
Problem Analysis and Problem Solving Perils

Don’t have complete information

Focus on symptoms not the core
problem or issue

Differences in underlying
assumptions and beliefs

There isn’t a problem or issue,
rather there are many interrelated
problems and issues
As a Result:

Decision making is not a rational process.
Too many issues, too many choices, not
enough time, other resource limitations,
cognitive limitations, etc. Thus, our
rationality is bounded.

These limitations lead to satisficing behavior
as opposed to maximizing behavior
(college choice, job choice, mate choice?)

S/he who defines the problem or issue has
just as much, if not more, power than s/he
who solves it! (energy issue, Iraq, academic
rigor)
Decision Making Problems in Groups
 Group Polarization: Groups tend to
make more extreme decisions;
individuals in group not as accountable
Glenbrook High “Powder Puff” Hazing
Decision Making Problems in Groups
 Groupthink: Team cohesiveness leads members
to strive for unanimity rather than realistically
appraise alternative courses of action (Space
Shuttle disasters, Iraq?)

Group is highly cohesive

Group faces external threat

Group is isolated from outsiders

Self-censorship of dissenting ideas

Excessive negative stereotyping

Unquestioned morality
Decision Making Problems in Groups
 Escalation of Commitment:
Self-justification, gambler’s
fallacy, perceptual blinders,
closing costs, etc., lead people
to continue down a path of
failure (Relationships,
Vietnam, Building the
Concorde)
Garbage Can Model of Decision Making
It’s only rational that
decision making processes
are not rational!
BUT, understanding the
pitfalls leads us closer to
rationality
Parting Shots
Show up on time!
Be prepared to think and debate.
Don’t be scared of the “irritation of
doubt” and be open to changing your
beliefs.
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