Saturday, August 10, 2019

Quote Of The Day: A Neural Network Framework For Cognitive Bias

A particular question comes up for me when debating god's existence about why we homo sapiens would have so many cognitive biases built into our thinking if it is the case that god created us for the purposes of knowing god's existence and the truth (as many theists claim): Why would god design us with so many flaws hindering our ability to know the truth if our very purpose was to know the truth?

For example, why would god give us a confirmation bias that makes it difficult for us to notice contrary evidence? Can this all be swept under the rug with the ol' "God has morally sufficient reasons for this" explainer? If that sours the theist, one attempt to deny all this is by saying our cognitive biases are not hardwired. But, here's a paper demonstrating A Neural Network Framework for Cognitive Bias.

I leave you a select quote from it (emphasis mine).

The brain (like all neural networks) functions in a highly associative way. Correlation and coincidence detection are the basic operations of neural functioning, as manifested in, e.g., Hebb’s rule (Hebb, 1949; Shatz, 1992), the ‘Law of Effect’ (Thorndike, 1927, 1933), Pavlovian conditioning (Pavlov, 2010), or autocorrelation (Reichardt, 1961). As a result, the brain automatically and subconsciously ‘searches’ for correlation, coherence, and (causal) connections: it is highly sensitive to consistent and invariant patterns..........Examples of heuristics and bias resulting from associative information processing are the control illusion (people tend to overestimate the degree to which they are in control (Langer, 1975; Matute et al., 2015), superstition (Skinner, 1948; Risen, 2015), spurious causality (seeing causality in unconnected correlations), the conjunction fallacy (Tversky and Kahneman, 1983), the representativeness heuristic (Tversky and Kahneman, 1981a), and the previously mentioned story bias......In line with the Hebb doctrine (Hebb, 1949), the neural network framework contributes to an explanation of these phenomena by the way (the weight of) connections between neurons are affected by covarying inputs. Synaptic strengths are typically altered by either the temporal firing pattern of the presynaptic neuron or by modulatory neurons (Marder and Thirumalai, 2002). Neurons that repeatedly or persistently fire together, change each other’s excitability and synaptic connectivity (Destexhe and Marder, 2004). This basic principle, i.e., “cells that fire together, wire together” (Shatz, 1992), enables the continuous adaptation and construction of neural connections and associations based on simultaneous and covarying activations.

I'm not sure one can fully deny that cognitive bias has any neuro-biological basis at all.


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