The Amazing Success of Statistical Prediction Rules

Michael A Bishop and J. D. Trout

in Epistemology and the Psychology of Human Judgment

Published in print January 2005 | ISBN: 9780195162295
Published online July 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780199835539 | DOI:
 The Amazing Success of Statistical Prediction Rules

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This chapter discusses Statistical Prediction Rules (SPRs) and provides an explanation for their success. SPRs are simple, formal rules that have been shown to be typically more reliable, than the predictions of human experts on a wide variety of problems. Based on testable results, psychology can make normative recommendations about how we ought to reason. The branches of psychology that provide normative recommendations are dubbed as ‘Ameliorative Psychology’. Two central lessons of Ameliorative Psychology are that when it comes to social judgment, (a) proper unit weight models outperform humans in terms of reliability and (b) improper unit weight models often perform nearly as well as proper models and therefore better than humans. It is argued that the reason people resist this ‘practical conclusion’ is partly because the SPR results are noxious to our conception of ourselves as good reasoners. Further, they undermine our hope — so evident in the a priorism of so much contemporary epistemology — that we can be experts at recognizing good reasoning without massive empirical aid.

Keywords: SPRs; Ameliorative Psychology; reasoning; social judgement; testable results

Chapter.  13067 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

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