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Gut feel and analytics OR gut feel v analytics?


Neil sent me an interesting link yesterday – Less (Information) Is More in which the work of Gerd Gigerenzer, of the Max Planck Institute in Germany is discussed. Gerd has a new book “Gut Feelings” that sounds like it has a lot in common with Blink by Malcolm Gladwell (reviewed here). One of the interesting questions this kind of article brings up is how to combine gut reactions/instant decision-making with analytics. While judgmental decision-making can be fallible (we tend to focus on a single idea too early and seek evidence to support it and have trouble managing randomness or considering lots of variables), the evidence that we are good at some kinds of “snap” judgments in some circumstances is strong as described in both the article and Blink. One combine the two, however, in various ways. One could combine unsupervised learning algorithms to find new patterns or exceptions and then have experts quickly assess which ones are worth investigating. You can also use analytics to analyze subjective decisions to see if patterns can be determined to allow automation. One can focus the attention of people on the small number of variables that make a statistical difference so that they can exercise their gut feel but on the most useful data not on the most visible and so on. The future of analytics is not in reporting or spreadsheets, visualization or cubes. The future is to find new ways to bring human expertise and data analysis techniques together to make learning mechanisms that start “smart” and get “smarter”.


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