Richard E. Nisbett Quotes.

1. "Early in the 19th-century, the behaviorist E. L. Thorndike performed a series of experiments that satisfied two generations of American psychologists that abstractions were not importantly involved in learning how to perform skilled tasks. He asked his subjects to perform a particular task for varying amounts of time (e.g., cancelling Os from a sentence, and then switched them to another task; cancelling adverbs from a sentence). He found that transfer of training effects were slight and unstable. Sometimes he found that performance of the first task enhanced the second, sometimes that it made it more difficult, and, often, that it had no effect at all. One would, of course, assume that performance on the second task would be improved if subjects learned something general from performance of the first task. Since they so often failed to show improved training, Thorndike inferred that people don't, in fact, learn much that is general when performing mental tasks. This meant that training was going to be very much a bottom-up affair, consisting of little more than slogging through countless stimulus-response associations. This conclusion has suffused deeply into American psychology, cognitive science, and education. Newell (1980), based on some similar failed efforts to find training effects for reasoning tasks, has asserted that learned problem-solving skills generally are idiosyncratic to the task."
- Richard E. Nisbett, Rules for Reasoning

2. "Chinese dialectical reasoning had an impact on the physicist Niels Bohr, who was highly knowledgeable about Eastern thought. He attributed his development of quantum theory in part to the metaphysics of the East. There had been a centuries-long debate in the West about whether light consists of particles or waves. Belief in one was assumed to contradict and render impossible belief in the other. Bohr’s solution was to say that light can be thought of in both ways. In quantum theory, light can be viewed either as a particle or as a wave. Just never both at the same time."
- Richard E. Nisbett, Mindware: Tools for Smart Thinking

3. "Whether you’re heroic or heartless may depend on a contextual factor whose impact is far greater than we would tend to assume."
- Richard E. Nisbett, Mindware: Tools for Smart Thinking

4. "What nature hath joined together, multiple regression analysis cannot put asunder."
- Richard E. Nisbett, Mindware: Tools for Smart Thinking

5. "we see patterns in the world where there are none because we don’t understand just how un-random-looking random sequences can be."
- Richard E. Nisbett, Mindware: Tools for Smart Thinking

6. "14. Song and Schwarz, If It’s Hard to Read, It’s Hard to Do."
- Richard E. Nisbett, Mindware: Tools for Smart Thinking

7. "Important influences can be hidden, but even when powerful situational determinants of behavior are staring us in the face, we can be oblivious to their impact."
- Richard E. Nisbett, Mindware: Tools for Smart Thinking

8. "Behind many a successful person lies a string of lucky breaks that we have no inkling about."
- Richard E. Nisbett, Mindware: Tools for Smart Thinking

9. "But social class is only one of an unlimited number of potential confounds present in MRA studies. Almost anything that’s correlated with both the predictor variable and the outcome variable in such studies becomes a candidate for explaining the correlation between the two."
- Richard E. Nisbett, Mindware: Tools for Smart Thinking

10. "objectivity arose from subjectivity—the recognition that two minds could have different representations of the world and that the world has an existence independent of either representation. This"
- Richard E. Nisbett, The Geography of Thought

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