How You Decide: The Science of Human Decision Making [TTC Video]

How You Decide: The Science of Human Decision Making [TTC Video]
How You Decide: The Science of Human Decision Making [TTC Video] by Ryan Hamilton
Course No 9560 | MP4, AVC, 856x480 | AAC, 192 kbps, 2 Ch | 24x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 7.13GB

Have you ever wondered why your neighbors painted their front door lime green? Or wished you could watch TV without reaching for those snacks over and over again? Have you ever walked up and down the toy aisles to find a birthday present and left without buying anything, just to stop at the convenience store on the way home and buy the only toy on the shelf?

Those three activities—choosing a paint color, changing a habit, and purchasing a gift—might seem unrelated at first glance. But all are examples of the fascinating process of human decision making. Thousands of times each day, even tens of thousands by some estimates, we are presented with choices that require a decision. From the mundane to the life-changing, our brains are constantly working to solve these decision puzzles.

How in the world do we do it?

Over millennia, philosophers, theologians, and mathematicians have all weighed in on the topic, and in recent centuries, economists, psychologists, and sociologists have joined the investigation. People have always been fascinated by how the mind works. We also have a desire to learn from our mistakes, but in order to do so, it’s important to understand how we came to the decision that led to those mistakes.

From the Trojans’ acceptance of that big wooden horse, to the factors that help us decide whom to trust and whom to disbelieve, to the food you are likely to purchase in the market tomorrow—someone somewhere has put forth a theory to explain the decision. Some of these past theories could most politely be described as “aspirational,” describing decision making as it should be, not as it often is. Others have caught on in the minds of the general public and even been published in the popular press, only to be later disproven. But the information presented in this course is different.

In How You Decide: The Science of Human Decision Making, Professor Ryan Hamilton, Associate Professor of Marketing at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School, uses research revealed via the scientific method to understand and explain human decision making. While his easygoing manner and anecdotes about surprising and bizarre choices will keep you enthralled, Professor Hamilton also shares what decision science has revealed through empirically tested theories that make falsifiable predictions and lead to testable hypotheses.

Using the manufacturing process as a metaphor to present those truths, Professor Hamilton describes in 24 in-depth lectures:

  • the informational raw materials you use as inputs to the decision-making process
  • how your cognitive machinery prepares and assembles those raw materials into a decision
  • the motivational control mechanisms that govern and tweak your cognitive machinery to produce a decision.

Dr. Hamilton’s boundless sense of wonder and enthusiasm for the subject of human decision making, solid foundation in the scientific method, and pervasive sense of humor are apparent in every lecture. While most of us believe we make decisions by examining our options rationally and reaching a logical conclusion, Dr. Hamilton, a consumer psychologist, shares a much more interesting reality of fascinating experiments, often irrational choices, and sometimes counterintuitive results.

Based on the outcomes of his own published experiments and those of his colleagues, Dr. Hamilton presents information that allows you to better understand the choices you face every day, the tools you can use to make the best decisions for your personal goals, and how to most effectively influence the decisions of others. Whether your goal is to improve your personal life or to apply decision science to your business, you’ll find the up-to-date research results and practical advice you need in this course.

The Rut of Routines: Everyday Scenarios

Everyone has routines that are established over weeks, months, or even years. These routines become such a part of your life that they can obscure the fact that you’re actually making choices throughout the routine. For example, you go to the store to buy a bag of your favorite coffee. You’ve been drinking this coffee for so many years that you don’t even consider the purchase a “decision.” But when you arrive, you find that the store manager has rearranged the shelves and added five new brands plus six new flavors of your favorite brand. You pick up each new bag, read the label, and sniff the aroma. But you just can’t seem to decide what to buy. What’s happening here?

In this course, you’ll learn:

how the number and placement of choices affect your decisions and can even keep you from making any decision at all how the memory of a song or a joke can cause you to make specific choices months or years later whether or not subliminal messages can cause you to make decisions against your will how the blood flow in your brain can be altered by advertising without any conscious thought on your part how heuristics, while often helpful, can sometimes lead to stereotyping and other poor decisions.

You’ll also discover how you can affect your cognitive machinery and the decisions of others. For example, say that for years, you paid your children to do chores around the house. Over time, you watched them learn to make their beds, do their own laundry, mow the yard, and even do the dusting. But when you visited them in their first apartments, you were shocked to see that they were filthy. How could they possibly have made a decision like that? What went “wrong?” You’ll investigate:

  • the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation
  • how reason-based decision making that seems rational can lead us astray
  • the power of partitioning to affect your own decisions and others’
  • how to most effectively break a bad habit or establish a good one
  • why the commonly used list of pros and cons can actually be a poor decision tool.

What Tools Can We Use to Make the Best Possible Decisions?

Whether you need to buy a car, sell your business, relocate, find a new job, choose a caregiver for your parents, or decide the design and price of a raffle ticket, you always want to make the best possible decision for the occasion. In this practical course, you’ll delve into useful topics such as:

  • the importance of reference points and how they are interpreted (and misinterpreted) by your cognitive machinery
  • how the halo effect influences your decisions for better and for worse
  • why we often choose irrelevant reasons to justify our decisions
  • how intuitive processing and heuristics come into play when our cognitive resources are a mismatch for the decision at hand
  • why we use the tool of replacement in decision making and how it can lead us astray
  • how to “stack the deck” to influence the decision making of another person.

Throughout this course, Dr. Hamilton emphasizes the complex nature of human beings and the many environmental, physical, and emotional aspects of life that can impact any specific decision at any given moment. But while he cautions you to have realistic expectations in the prediction of human behavior, he also gives you the scientifically based tools you need to improve your personal and business decisions.

How You Decide: The Science of Human Decision Making [TTC Video]

The Joy of Thinking: The Beauty and Power of Classical Mathematical Ideas [TTC Video]

The Joy of Thinking: The Beauty and Power of Classical Mathematical Ideas [TTC Video]
The Joy of Thinking: The Beauty and Power of Classical Mathematical Ideas [TTC Video] by Michael Starbird, Edward B Burger
Course No 1423 | AVI, XviD, 560x400 | MP3, 128 kbps, 2 Ch | 24x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 8.2GB

Discover mathematics as an artistic and creative realm that contains some of the greatest ideas of human history. This course explores infinity, the fourth dimension, probability, chaos, fractals, and other fantastic themes.

The world of mathematics contains some of the greatest ideas of humankind—ideas comparable to the works of Shakespeare, Plato, and Michelangelo. These mathematical ideas can add texture, beauty, and wonder to your life. Most importantly, you don't have to be a mathematician to have access to this world.

A Mathematical Journey

The Joy of Thinking is a course about fun, aesthetics, and mystery—about great mathematical ideas that arise from puzzles, observations of everyday life, and habits of curiosity and effective thinking. It is as much about learning to think abstractly as it is about what we traditionally think of as mathematics.

You explore the fourth dimension, coincidences, fractals, the allure of number, and geometry, and bring these weighty notions back down to earth to see how they apply to your own life.

Rather than focusing on adding figures or creating equations (in fact, there are fewer numbers than you might expect), this course enables you to uncover and grasp insightful strategies for approaching, enjoying, and understanding the world around you.

"Wonderful ... the Best"

Taught by Professors Edward B. Burger of Williams College and Michael Starbird of the University of Texas at Austin, this course is based on their innovative textbook, The Heart of Mathematics: An invitation to effective thinking, which a reviewer for The American Mathematical Monthly called "wonderful ... possibly the best 'mathematics for the non-mathematician' book that I have seen."

Paradoxical Phenomena

Consider these examples:

  • The game show Let's Make a Deal® entertained viewers with Monty Hall urging contestants to pick a door. The choice involves a question of chance that has been the source of many heated arguments. You explore the mathematics that prepares you for future game-show stardom and explains a paradoxical example of probability.
  • Coincidences are striking because any particular one is extremely improbable. However, what is even more improbable is that no coincidence will occur. You see that finding two people having the same birthday in a room of 45 is extremely likely, by chance alone, even though the probability that any particular two people will have the same birthday is extremely low.
  • One of the most famous illustrations of randomness is the scenario of monkeys randomly typing Hamlet. Another, called "Buffon's needle," shows how random behavior can be used to estimate numbers such as pi. Physicists discovered that a similar needle-dropping model accurately predicts certain atomic phenomena.

The Fourth Dimension

Mathematical thinking leads not only to insights about our everyday lives and everyday world but also points us to worlds far beyond our own. Take the fourth dimension. The very phrase conjures up notions of science fiction or the supernatural.

Because the fourth dimension lies beyond our daily experience, visualizing, exploring, and understanding it requires us to develop an intuition about a world that we cannot see. Nevertheless, that understanding is within our reach.

You learn how to construct a four-dimensional cube and why a four-dimensional surgeon could remove your appendix without making an incision in your skin.

Fractals

Or take a world that we can see: the two-dimensional realm. It can be just as rich with surprises. You learn how the simple exercise of repeatedly folding a sheet of paper introduces the concept of fractals—a geometric pattern that is infinitely complex—repeated at ever smaller scales to produce irregular shapes and surfaces that cannot be represented by classical geometry.

You discover that the paper-folding sequence offers an example of the classical computational theory of "automata," developed by Alan Turing—the father of modern computing. Fractal construction processes may also relate to the behavior of the stock market and even to your heart rate.

Life Lessons

As Professors Burger and Starbird lead you through these and other examples, you pick up some valuable life lessons:

  • Just do it. If you're faced with a problem and you don't know how to solve it, begin by taking some action.
  • Make mistakes and fail but never give up. Mathematicians are supremely gifted at making mistakes. The key is to use the insight from your mistakes to identify the features of a correct solution to your problem.
  • Keep an open mind. If we are never willing to consider new ideas, then we can never hope to increase our understanding of the world around us.
  • Explore the consequences of new ideas. This strategy pushes us to see where an idea leads and in this way to discover new ideas and insights.
  • Seek the essential. One of the biggest obstacles in solving real-world problems is the noise and clutter of irrelevant issues that surround them.
  • Understand the issue. Identifying and clarifying the problem to be solved in a situation is often a significant step in reaching a solution.
  • Understand simple things deeply. We can never understand unknown situations without an intense focus on those aspects of the unknown that are familiar. The familiar, in other words, serves as the best guide to the unfamiliar.
  • Break a difficult problem into easier ones. This strategy is fundamental to mathematics and, indeed, applicable in everyday life.
  • Examine issues from several points of view. We can, for example, gain new insights by looking at the construction of an object, rather than the object itself.
  • Look for patterns. Similarities among situations and objects that are different on the surface should be viewed as flashing lights urging us to look for explanations. Patterns help us to structure our understanding of the world, and similarities are what we use to bring order and meaning to chaos.

The Un-Math Math

This is probably not like the mathematics you had at school. Some people might not even want to call it math, but you experience a way of thinking that opens doors, opens minds, and leaves you smiling while pondering some of the greatest concepts ever conceived.

One of the great features about mathematics is that it has an endless frontier. The farther you travel, the more you see over the emerging horizon. The more you discover, the more you understand what you've already seen, and the more you see ahead. Deep ideas truly are within the reach of us all. How many more ideas are there for you to explore and enjoy? Well, how long is your life? How can we see the fourth dimension in a Salvador Dali painting?

These certainly aren't the kinds of questions you would normally ask in typical lectures about mathematics. But then again, this isn't an ordinary math course.

The Joy of Thinking: The Beauty and Power of Classical Mathematical Ideas [TTC Video]

The Joy of Thinking: The Beauty and Power of Classical Mathematical Ideas [TTC Video]

The Power of Mathematical Thinking: From Newton's Laws to Elections and the Economy [TTC Video]

The Power of Mathematical Thinking: From Newton's Laws to Elections and the Economy [TTC Video]
The Power of Mathematical Thinking: From Newton's Laws to Elections and the Economy [TTC Video] by Donald G Saari
Course No 1417 | AVI, XviD, 640x480 | MP3, 128 kbps, 2 Ch | 24x30 mins | + PDF Guidebook | 5.05GB

Scientists studying the universe at all scales often marvel at the seemingly "unreasonable effectiveness" of mathematics—its uncanny ability to reveal the hidden order behind the most complex of nature's phenomena. They are not alone: Economists, sociologists, political scientists, and many other specialists have also experienced the wonder of math's muscle power.

This use of mathematics to solve problems in a wide range of disciplines is called applied mathematics, and it is a far cry from the impression that many people have of math as an abstract field that has no relevance to the real world. Consider the remarkable utility of the following ideas:

  • The n-body problem: Beginning with Isaac Newton, the attempts to predict how a group of objects behave under the influence of gravity have led to unexpected insights into a wide range of mathematical and physical phenomena. One outcome is the new field of chaos theory.
  • Torus: The properties of a donut shape called a torus shed light on everything from the orbits of the planets to the business cycle, and they also explain how the brain reads emotions, how color vision works, and the apportionment scheme in the U.S. Congress.
  • Arrow's impossibility theorem: In an election involving three or more candidates, several crucial criteria for making the vote equitable cannot all be met, implying that no voting rule is fair. This surprising result has had widespread application in the theory of social choice and beyond.
  • Higher dimensions: Whenever multiple variables come into play, a problem may benefit by exploring it in higher dimensions. With a host of applications, higher dimensions are nonetheless difficult to envision—although Salvador Dali came close in some of his paintings.

Math's very abstraction is the secret of its power to strip away inessentials and get at the heart of a problem, giving deep insight into situations that may not even seem like math problems—such as how to present a winning proposal to a committee or to understand the dynamical interactions of street gangs. Given this astonishing versatility, mathematics is truly one of the greatest tools ever developed for unlocking mysteries.

In 24 intensively illustrated half-hour lectures, The Power of Mathematical Thinking: From Newton's Laws to Elections and the Economy gives you vivid lessons in the extraordinary reach of applied mathematics. Your professor is noted mathematician Donald G. Saari of the University of California, Irvine—a member of the prestigious National Academy of Sciences, an award-winning teacher, and an exuberantly curious investigator, legendary among his colleagues for his wide range of mathematical interests.

Inviting you to explore a rich selection of those interests, The Power of Mathematical Thinking is not a traditional course in applied mathematics or problem solving but is instead an opportunity to experience firsthand from a leading practitioner how mathematical thinking can open doors and operate powerfully across multiple fields. Designed to take you down new pathways of reasoning no matter what your background in mathematics, these lectures show you the creative mind of a mathematician at work—zeroing in on a problem, probing it from a mathematical point of view, and often reaching surprising conclusions.

When Elections Go Haywire

Professor Saari is a pioneer in the application of mathematics to problems in astronomy, economics, and other fields, but he is best known to the general public for his influential critique of election rules. In this course, he devotes several lectures to what can go wrong with elections, showing how the least preferred contender in a race with three or more candidates can sometimes end up as the winner—and how this flaw is latent in many apparently fair voting methods. He also shows that similar problems plague other ranking procedures, such as the method of apportioning congressional seats in the U.S. Congress. Among the many cases you explore are these:

  • Suppose your local school ranks students by the number of A's they receive. It sounds like a formula for excellence, but what it means is that the student who gets an A in one course and F's in everything else will be ranked above the student who gets all B's. The same flaw is at the heart of plurality voting.
  • What would you think if a consultant approached your organization and offered to write a fair voting rule that guaranteed whatever outcome you wanted in a vote involving several alternatives? Such consultants may not exist, but their methods do and are in wide use when making paired comparisons.
  • You are on a search committee whose members have voted on four candidates. Before you announce the winner, the lowest vote-getter drops out. Should the committee take a new vote? If it doesn't, the original choice may not represent the true preferences of the members.
  • Your state is entitled to a number of seats in the U.S. House of Representatives proportional to its population. Should you object if the total number of seats in the House is increased? In fact, your state could lose a seat under this scenario, as Alabama did in 1880.

Apart from the fascination of studying such examples, you invariably get the big picture from Professor Saari, as he shows how the power of mathematics comes from reaching beyond, say, a particular election to consider what can possibly happen in any election. And he introduces a set of mathematical ideas that prove remarkably useful at analyzing a wide range of problems at a deep level.

A Mathematical Odyssey

Both entertaining and intellectually exhilarating, this course is based on Professor Saari's own mathematical odyssey—from his early career in celestial mechanics to his discovery that the social sciences are fertile ground for sophisticated applied mathematics. Furthermore, Dr. Saari has delightfully contrarian impulses that make him question why something is true, or, indeed, if it is true at all. In this spirit, you examine Newton's theory of gravitation, Arrow's impossibility theorem, Adam Smith's "invisible hand" concept, and other ideas, pushing beyond the standard interpretations to extract new insights that in many cases represent original contributions by Dr. Saari.

By his enthusiastic example, Professor Saari shows that the abstract nature of mathematics is nothing to fear. Instead, it is something to cherish, nurture, and use with imagination. "In mathematics, we have the ability to transcend our experiences," he says. "We do not want to solve the problems of the past; we want to solve problems that we've never experienced or didn't anticipate." And for that, we need The Power of Mathematical Thinking.

The Power of Mathematical Thinking: From Newton's Laws to Elections and the Economy [TTC Video]

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