Overcoming Cognitive Biases to Solve Complex Problems: A Case Study in Diagnostic Reasoning

  The Coppa Copper Mine in Michigan, USA, was once one of the largest copper mines in the United States, but later faced sharp losses, so the company’s board of directors and management jointly held a meeting to vote on the future fate of the copper mine. Two types of opinions emerged at this meeting: executives favored shutting down the copper mine, while direct operators of the mining area did not support this view.
  Everyone emphasized their own arguments from their own perspectives, and at the same time put forward many arguments around their own arguments to refute the other party’s views. As a result, the discussion reached an impasse and never reached a conclusion that both parties agreed upon. This stalemate is precisely because everyone has fallen into a trap caused by a psychological mechanism, which is “self-verification” in social psychology. Self-verification theory refers to the idea that once people have an idea, they will work hard to prove that the idea is correct.
  Self-verification theory will bring about a “confirmation tendency”, which will allow people to focus on confirming their existing ideas when making reasoning and judgment, rather than falsifying this idea. Under the influence of this psychological mechanism, people tend to pay too much attention to one side of things and ignore the other side.
  The discussions were also attended by a consultant from the copper mine’s management consulting firm, who, after seeing the impasse, proposed a solution.
  He said: “Since there are two mainstream opinions now, we will divide into two groups, the group that supports the closure of copper mines and the group that does not support the closure of copper mines. Everyone can discuss it in their own groups, but the topics discussed Exchange is needed. After the discussion, exchange views before taking the next step.”
  This suggestion actually forces everyone to confirm the other party’s views, or falsify their own views. By reconstructing the views and issues, the opponent in the debate can Invisibly becoming a collaborative partner. This method is very effective. By the end of the meeting, everyone not only understands each other’s positions and opinions better, but also comes up with some new solutions. One plan is to shut down the furnaces that are now about to be scrapped, ship the ore to Canada, and use new furnaces there to refine the ore.
  By exchanging views, everyone gets rid of the narrow thinking of “strengthening one’s own views and weakening others’ views” caused by self-validation. When you think that an idea to solve a problem is wrong, if you don’t simply say “no” to the idea, but change your mind and think from the opposite side of the existing point of view, your way of thinking will change. Make fundamental changes that free you from confirmation tendencies and escape the trap of self-verifying theories.
  With such a small change in thinking, you can give yourself a chance to learn something new through exploration, and greatly improve the possibility of finding a more appropriate and accurate solution. Just like the mantra that American investor Charlie Munger often says: “Think the other way around, always think the other way around.” Not only
  must we be wary of our tendency to confirm, but when communicating with others, we must also be aware that the other party is also There may be a tendency to confirm. Don’t be limited by the questions raised by the other party, but find ways to get out of the vicious circle of confirmation tendencies.
  Suppose you are a doctor and one of your patients is almost seventy years old. He has been describing to you that he feels dizzy. You also know that there are many diseases that cause this symptom, so you list A checklist of items was issued and the patient was asked to undergo a comprehensive examination, but the results of all examinations were normal.
  So, you gave him some medicine to treat vertigo, but none of them had any effect. The disease seemed like a mystery. At this time, you seek help from an expert. Through a conversation with the patient and asking some questions, he successfully found the cause of the patient’s illness.
  In fact, this is a real case. The expert who successfully solved the problem is Barber from the Department of Clinical Diagnostics at Stanford University School of Medicine. The patient in the case was named Joseph. When Barber met Joseph for the first time, he asked him a question: “Can you tell me, what specifically do you mean by vertigo? How long does this condition last? Appear once?”
  Joseph replied: “Since my wife died, I have been in a state of dizziness. I don’t know what to do. I am confused. I turn on the TV, but I can’t arouse any interest; I walk out of the house, But he found that he had nowhere to go.”
  Through this conversation, Barber discovered that Joseph was only using the word “dizziness” to express his loneliness, loneliness and sadness. He had not yet been able to start a new life after losing his wife. A new life for man. The doctors Joseph had turned to before had never considered that the so-called illness might just be an emotional discomfort rather than a physical pain.
  Everyone should be aware of the existence of self-validation tendencies, which can lead to greater humility and caution.
  When facing every decision-making problem, we should realize that we may be wrong. We can only use a global perspective, examine the problem from various angles, and fully consider various possibilities, in the spirit of “possibility”. Make a decision with the awareness of “make a mistake”. The courage at this time is meaningful.

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