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Studies of delusion and it's application to observed behaviour in archery.

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  • Studies of delusion and it's application to observed behaviour in archery.

    I have always been fascinated and sometimes horrified by aspects of human psychology. There are sometimes hundreds of years (sometimes thousands) of observations on human behaviour which slowly gets teased out as more modern methods of analysis and data is collected.
    Over time, theories get tested and proved or disproved. People specialise in certain fields of study and they discover more about what we as a species do. They find out what we do well. What we are brilliant at and also sometimes what we suck at.
    I have been going through the work of a very influential psychologist called Daniel Kahneman who won a nobel prize for economics. He has specialised in the study of human decision making and I thought that it would be fascinating to read about his work.
    I have see a few intelligence analyst write ups of how the Kahneman studies can be used to identify the way that we make wrong decisions and how we're lead to make conclusions that do not consider all the evidence.
    For someone who was under the impression that they devoted time to thinking about things, I found this very disheartening. I know that advertising takes advantage of a lot of these quirks of our thinking, but I had no idea of how extensive these effects are when it comes to certain kinds of decision making.
    We're damn good at making decisions correctly about how someone is feeling by their expressions. We're good at interpersonal stuff. We're pretty damn good at spacial stuff like "will I be able to walk across the road without being hit by the car" or catching thrown balls (or throwing things for that matter.)
    The big difference is the way that we intuitively process that information. We do all of that stuff easily and correctly for the vast majority of the time.

    However, when we intuitively try to process other kinds of information, like statistics, we suck at it.

    We suck so bad and so hard and so often that I was quite dejected about it.
    I was keen to go through some of the categories ways that we're bad at thinking about things and how that effects our thoughts of our archery, but I realised that a lot of people might find this quite confronting. (Mind you, a lot will totally and wilfully ignore it which is one of the things that was discovered in Kahneman's studies.)

    So if anyone is interested in learning about the traps in human thought processes, say so.
    I guarantee that you will identify some of this stuff in every other part of your life.

    For instance, you know right after you bought that expensive bit of archery equipment and you start justifying to yourself why that was a good purchase, even when it plainly wasn't.
    Yep. That's covered.
    The three day effect of the new piece of archery equipment that makes you shoot better?
    Yep. That's covered too.
    Seeing patterns in random arrow distribution.
    Remembering past performances as better than they were.
    Herd mentality.
    Anchoring (not the archery term)
    All pretty standard researched and ROBUST human behaviour.

    It explains a lot of what we do in archery circles.
    Status is not defined by the amount of gear in your signature.
    Performance cannot be purchased.

    "The Internet offers everything - except quality control" - K. Anders Ericsson.


  • #2
    Originally posted by Andy! View Post
    However, when we intuitively try to process other kinds of information, like statistics, we suck at it.
    I'd say that 10 out of 8 people would disagree with that.

    Comment


    • #3
      Get thee to a copy of "Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds" by Charles Mackay. Just as relevant now as it was when written more than 170 years ago. (You can find it as a free e-book)

      Quite shocking in terms of recent events. Quite readable too.
      Last edited by gt; 13th June 2014, 09:57 AM.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by stickman View Post
        I'd say that 10 out of 8 people would disagree with that.
        Yes. You'd be almost correct. It's a categorised delusion. They'd disagree about it because that has also been proven in robust testing. It's called bias blindness where people are inclined to believe that they have less tendency to have biases than other people, or believe that they can see enhanced bias tendencies in other people.

        Originally posted by gt View Post
        Get thee to a copy of "Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds" by Charles Mackay. Just as relevant now as it was when written more than 170 years ago. (You can find it as a free e-book)

        Quite shocking in terms of recent events. Quite readable too.
        Thanks.

        That has already been referenced in a list of historical observations on the general behaviour of humans that go back to the greek philosophers.

        I've located it here: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/24518/24518-h/dvi.html


        To kick things along, we'll have to do a little bit of simple illustration.

        If a new Easton X27 shaft and point insert costs $11 together and the shaft costs $10 more than the point insert , how much does the point insert cost?
        Last edited by Andy!; 13th June 2014, 10:43 AM.
        Status is not defined by the amount of gear in your signature.
        Performance cannot be purchased.

        "The Internet offers everything - except quality control" - K. Anders Ericsson.

        Comment


        • #5
          $0.50.

          I work in driving research so I deal with delusion every day - just about everyone who has ever held a steering wheel rates themselves as an above average driver. Sometimes you find the needle in the haystack who will admit to being average. Never seen anyone in 14 years confess to being below average.

          Just for reference - my driving ability is above average

          A while back a work colleague showed me a puzzle (http://www.manbottle.com/trivia/einstein_s_riddle). I worked through it and wondered about how true the assertion at the start that only 2% of the population can do it is. The thing is, it's not hard, there are no great intuitive leaps required - you just need a pencil and some paper and to slog it out logically. I'm pretty sure most people can handle that if they bother too.

          The issue then becomes, how do logically sort through shooting problems? How many arrows have to go through a new bow before you can verify that it's better than your old one or that it just had a month of shiny gear syndrome? When do you call it on a new arm position or release technique?
          Last edited by Mormegil; 13th June 2014, 12:03 PM.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Mormegil View Post

            I work in driving research so I deal with delusion every day - just about everyone who has ever held a steering wheel rates themselves as an above average driver. Sometimes you find the needle in the haystack who will admit to being average. Never seen anyone in 14 years confess to being below average.
            That's actually referred to in the literature.

            Originally posted by Mormegil View Post
            Just for reference - my driving ability is above average
            Yes. Me too.


            Originally posted by Mormegil View Post
            A while back a work colleague showed me a puzzle (http://www.manbottle.com/trivia/einstein_s_riddle). I worked through it and wondered about how true the assertion at the start that only 2% of the population can do it is. The thing is, it's not hard, there are no great intuitive leaps required - you just need a pencil and some paper and to slog it out logically. I'm pretty sure most people can handle that if they bother too.
            The surest way of getting someone to do something is making them feel special. You may safely assume that any singular unreferenced statements about one thing are completely made up.


            Originally posted by Mormegil View Post
            The issue then becomes, how do logically sort through shooting problems? How many arrows have to go through a new bow before you can verify that it's better than your old one or that it just had a month of shiny gear syndrome? When do you call it on a new arm position or release technique?
            That's actually relatively straight forward, but we'll get to that.

            The fun thing about that cost breakdown question above is that it is specifically designed to appeal to the intuitive thought process.

            It is rather pointless asking it on an online forum, because there is no immediate feedback. If you ask it in real life, the true effect of it's power to cause people to get it wrong is very evident.

            First people will make the intuitive answer, then they'll not check it mentally, but they'll convince themselves that it's actually the correct answer.

            The original question is the bat and ball one, which you all should take the opportunity to test.

            Just ask people "If a bat and ball together cost $1.10 and the bat costs $1 more than the ball, how much does the ball cost?"

            Regardless of who you ask, most people will get it wrong. Even if you ask seasoned professionals who work with numbers.

            We cannot turn our super fast intuitive answer making brain off. This is why everyone is susceptible to fall into the same traps.

            The other nice part about that question is that you will be able to convince most people of the correct answer.



            So, why does this happen?

            Our fast answer brain is a survival mechanism.

            If you react quickly to danger, your chances of surviving it are drastically increased.
            We are all descended from long lines of people who didn't spend time pondering such things as:
            Is that a lion?
            Is that the same lion that ate my brother?
            Does he look hungry today?
            Might I in fact, be safer at the top of that tree?

            The majority of time, we get along just fine with our intuitive decisions, but they're not always the smart choices.
            Sometimes they even get us killed, but that's a fairly drastic set of circumstances.

            Our fast intuitive brain makes decisions based on:

            What is immediately evident.
            What we can remember easily.
            What we infer without further information.
            Our emotional state at the time.
            What we have been immediately exposed to previously.

            Believe it or not, there isn't actually much thinking going on with the intuitive decision process.
            I was quite shocked to find this out, but it makes a lot of sense. Most of our lives involve the use of memories. We don't need to work out every single time how to do something.
            We just remember it.

            The really obvious archery application of this is scoring arrows. It doesn't take long to remember the common combinations of six arrow ends for most archers of competent skill levels
            The better an archer you are, the less actual addition you have to do and the more you can rely on memory.
            You just remember that 10,10,10,9,9,9 is 57. That takes bugger all. It's helped because it has an emotional response attached to it. Joy if you're me. Dispair if you're Reo Wilde.

            However, you probably take far longer to add up the rest of the scorecard running totals as they actually required you to do something that wasn't easily recalled from memory.
            You engaged your non intuitive thinking processes, but you still remembered how to add up. You worked your way through the process that you remembered how to do.
            The more unfamiliar the numbers are, the more thinking you do.

            Thinking is actually pretty hard and Daniel Kahneman has a little exercise to demonstrate to people just how tiring concentration and thought can be. It tends to trash people in less than ten seconds.

            The traps that we fall into are called biases and these biases are in many types.

            Stereotypes are a bias that we'll all be familiar with.

            If we have a longbower shooting matchplay against a compounder, who do we expect will win?
            Status is not defined by the amount of gear in your signature.
            Performance cannot be purchased.

            "The Internet offers everything - except quality control" - K. Anders Ericsson.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Andy! View Post


              The surest way of getting someone to do something is making them feel special. You may safely assume that any singular unreferenced statements about one thing are completely made up.
              The other way is to have the cute asian postgrad say "oh wow try this, I solved it, can you?"

              But that's probably a different syndrome all together.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Andy! View Post
                It is rather pointless asking it on an online forum, because there is no immediate feedback. If you ask it in real life, the true effect of it's power to cause people to get it wrong is very evident.

                First people will make the intuitive answer, then they'll not check it mentally, but they'll convince themselves that it's actually the correct answer.
                I didn't say that was the first answer that came into my head - I did have to stop and think for a second, that's what reminded me of the puzzle.

                Again, the concentration thing is something people underestimate. We use the trail making tests to check for general cognitive status. Part A is joining up numbers (1-2-3-4), Part B is joining up numbers and letters in alternating order (1-a-2-b). People always underestimate how much longer it will take to do Part B because they don't realise that keeping track of two separate things is trickier than they think.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Mormegil View Post
                  I didn't say that was the first answer that came into my head - I did have to stop and think for a second, that's what reminded me of the puzzle.
                  If I was allowed to bet money on what answer first came into people's heads, I would always be making money.
                  I have physically asked at least 40 people in the last three weeks or so.
                  Two people got it right. Both hesitated for a bit before answering.
                  Even funnier, one of them told me today he only got it right because he'd heard it before. He is also a trivia GOD. It's a trick question for good reason and it illustrates how we use intuitive thinking to get the wrong answers perfectly.
                  Status is not defined by the amount of gear in your signature.
                  Performance cannot be purchased.

                  "The Internet offers everything - except quality control" - K. Anders Ericsson.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    If we have a longbower shooting matchplay against a compounder, who do we expect will win?

                    I would expect the archer that scores 6 set points first to win

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by gt View Post
                      Get thee to a copy of "Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds" by Charles Mackay. Just as relevant now as it was when written more than 170 years ago. (You can find it as a free e-book)

                      Quite shocking in terms of recent events. Quite readable too.
                      Thanks, free on Kindle is pretty good value!
                      Urban Archery
                      Carbon Express
                      Beiter
                      Truball/Axcel
                      Redback Strings

                      Before enlightenment: Chop wood, carry water
                      After enlightenment: Chop wood, carry water

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        So because we can't turn our fast acting brain off, when it comes to some types of considerations it will fall into certain traps.
                        These aren't really so much traps as strong tendencies.
                        Some you'll be aware of as you probably will have seen them in one form or another in everyday life.
                        Many actually involve emotional influences which should be reasonably obvious.
                        Archery performance is largely a game of long term statistical trending, with deviations away from someone's average performance.
                        Most people will be familiar with where they think their scores for certain distances are, or how much they're improving.
                        Most athletes who are serious have training diaries and some of them even plot their scores.
                        This is a good thing and it is better than having no records at all, but reading graphs and ascertaining information from them is a process which should be kept as an analysis consideration over a period of time, rather than one particular performance.
                        With no graph at all, or no record of past performances, an individual archer will tend to consider the scores that are the easiest to remember. They will be the combination of best, worst and most recent.

                        So what is likely to happen?
                        An archer with a small data sample size will get an inaccurate idea of how well they're going.

                        I would venture that a lot of people have either seen someone shoot an almost perfect shot with their first arrow. They may have even done it themselves.
                        When someone does it first shot, the first suggestion from someone else is usually to go home now.
                        Andrew Lindsay told me of walking out by himself at his club in New Zealand many years ago and plucking an arrow from the waist at half draw in his recurve.
                        It sailed in a huge arc and came down in the 10 at 90 metres.

                        While we laugh about these things happening, nobody considers it to be a true representation of skill level.

                        But hang on a minute.

                        At what point DO we take a performance to be a TRUE representation of skill level?

                        How many arrows? How many ends? What level score at this particular competition?

                        How many times have you left the club or turned away from the target feeling like you really sucked, this sport is for idiots, why did I spend this much on archery?
                        I'm betting a few people.
                        I have seen people do it many times. I've almost felt the same way myself.
                        How many times have you been on fire? Shooting far better than you ever had before. This is now so easy! I have cracked it somehow! Today will be my PB!
                        I've had days like that. I've seen other people do it too.
                        Next week or even a day later, back to normal.

                        So what happened?
                        Possibly several things, but the important issue is the way that we felt about it.
                        The high and low feelings that went with the scores were caused by considering a limited data set. Then there is a correction called reverting to the mean.

                        With a chart of your performance, it's pretty easy to assess over the period of recorded time what your real average performance is.
                        Without that knowledge, you are at the mercy of your fast thinking, jumping to conclusions brain.
                        Record keeping is important for many reasons and one of the reasons should now be obvious.

                        Daniel Kahneman was surprised to discover that with a limited data set, the human ability to intuitively discern accurate information was very bad.
                        However, he was reassured that when forced to consider certain information in logical steps, intuition became remarkably accurate.
                        This is similar to interpolation of a graph.
                        When you have a lot of data points that follow a certain direction on a graph, the expectation of what will happen can be reasonably accurately inferred.

                        With two data points only in a long period of time, it's a crap shoot.

                        So next time you smack the spider on the very first shot at 70 metres, you've just had one good shot.

                        You can also have a bad day where nothing seems to work.

                        Neither of those events are statistically significant in a real professional statistical analysis of your performance although you'll feel like they are.
                        You've been led astray by a cognitive bias.

                        If you've only got your memory to pull information from, you're at the mercy of your performance expectations which are most likely hopelessly inaccurate.

                        Despite your spectacular highs and craptacular lows, proper analysis will likely show you that you're actually improving, just not as fast as you'd like to believe.
                        Once you have that information in cold hard black and white facts, you would likely do one of two things.
                        Be motivated to continue.
                        Or to give up.
                        Of course, you could also be motivated to get someone to help you improve.

                        Beware of using limited data sets to make big decisions about your archery career. Record keeping is worth while.

                        In almost the same vein, if you flip a coin five times and each time it comes up heads, how would you feel about making a bet that it's going to come up heads on the sixth flip?
                        Status is not defined by the amount of gear in your signature.
                        Performance cannot be purchased.

                        "The Internet offers everything - except quality control" - K. Anders Ericsson.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Here is an example of what you are talking about
                          This is a list of every indoor round I shot from April 2003 till Jan 2007
                          The blue is Vegas scoring and the green is Inner 10.
                          The lines are the running average

                          Each round in a small example can seen quite erratic, but the running average showed steady improvement. My only regret is that I stopped tracking it. I have records for the last 4 years as well, but just not in an extractable format

                          The good thing with this kind of analysis is that I developed an understanding of trends. Things like
                          • PB's are rare, and usually unpredictable.
                          • Friday nights produced a drop in score
                          • Progressive average is more important than personal bests.

                          Click image for larger version

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                          Urban Archery
                          Carbon Express
                          Beiter
                          Truball/Axcel
                          Redback Strings

                          Before enlightenment: Chop wood, carry water
                          After enlightenment: Chop wood, carry water

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Thanks.
                            That's brilliant and I don't think there could be a better example.
                            Status is not defined by the amount of gear in your signature.
                            Performance cannot be purchased.

                            "The Internet offers everything - except quality control" - K. Anders Ericsson.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              One of the more insidious cognitive biases is that of confirmation bias.

                              This is where someone has a belief or idea that they prefer and when they're confronted with a range of evidence or information, they give the most consideration or significance to that which confirms their belief or idea.

                              To the point at which they will totally ignore a significant amount of indication that their belief is incorrect.



                              This dovetails neatly with another cognitive bias in which a person, when confronted with evidence that their belief or theory is incorrect, even more firmly adheres to their belief.



                              So if you have some publication bias involved that feeds some confirmation bias, it's not unsurprising to find situations where people become almost militant in their beliefs.



                              I'll pull out one of my favourite examples here about spinwings.

                              People seem to think that I hate spinwings for some reason.

                              I don't.

                              I just hate the level of crap that surrounds them. I bought some old stock of them purely to have the claims on the label for a photo.

                              Spinwings have their place but I want them to be in their place for the right reasons.



                              Supposedly, in the early days, different colours had different stiffness.



                              The assumption is that this would have different effects although there is absolutely no data on this.



                              Less than three years ago, I read of the experiments conducted by one archer where he said he shot with the different colours and found a correlation in lower groups to increased spinwing stiffness.



                              Keep in mind that this was not done with a shooting machine.

                              Sound a bit doubtful already?

                              How about an email from Range-o-matic confirming that all their spinwings had long been produced with the same stiffness and the only difference was colour?

                              Sound even more doubtful now?



                              Note that we have limited information on the testing other than it was done by casual means.

                              So we have a testing regime which is open to holes.

                              A stated testing objective to see if there was a correlation.

                              A result that agrees with the expectation.

                              An authority that states that there is no variation.



                              Does this sound like a worthy case for confirmational bias?

                              I wouldn't exactly point to it confidently as an example of rigourous scientific examination.



                              Mind you, given the variability of human performance even without the psychological effects such as the placebo effect and cognitive biases, I consider that any archery testing carried out without a shooting machine is strictly "for interest only".



                              If anyone emerges that can equal a shooting machine in terms of consistency under the same conditions, I'll revise this belief.
                              Status is not defined by the amount of gear in your signature.
                              Performance cannot be purchased.

                              "The Internet offers everything - except quality control" - K. Anders Ericsson.

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