Why the frontier of human decision making is more cognitive psychology than data analysis

For time immemorial, I have been fascinated by Sherlock Holmes and his keen power of inductive deduction - “ what likely would have happened “ looking at the trail of evidence. Over the last century, many realms have been written on his power of deduction and inductive logic but very few have been able to wring out the learnings from his powers of cognition, perception and distillation. As we get into a a “always white noise” on world where signals come towards us every single waking minute, a larger chunk of what consitutes noise and what constitutes signal is becoming more important than the distillation of the signal itself.

Cognition: memory, attention, language, problem-solving, and learning.

Perception: cognitive neuroscience

Distillation: thinking, problem solving, experimentation and learning

Over the last century or so, there’s been a lot of emphasis on the perception and distillation part and rightly so. When information was scarce, the true differentiation lay in analysis of the information and the fine human judgement that got applied on. As information becomes abundant, separating the noise from the signal is becoming an ever important part of the decison making simply because the latter two - perception and distillation remain subservient to cognition - you can only process what you’ve seen, heard or processed. And understanding how humans think, pay attention to, retain and process signals. This requires understanding the :

context & priming - what had happened prior to the point of the decision maker being presented with the information ? who are the influencers and what are variables affecting the context.

  • visual cognition - what does the decision maker pick up from a clutter of noise/signals presented to him ?

  • Aesthetics and beauty - What causes de-clutter of the same and have a higher probability of getting stuck to the decision maker’s mind ?

We will explore these and more in the posts to come…