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Spooky Judgments: How Agents Think About Danger

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View Ratings | Rate It Headlined to None 7/12/13


A sobering assessment of the cognitive environment of the 'intelligence' community. Provides context for Edward Snowden's remarkably courageous decision to stand up and speak out. Cornell University psychologist Valerie Reyna, an expert on risk assessment & decision making, persuaded a federal intelligence agency to let her study agents’ thinking. She found a pattern of irrational judgments about risk. In fact, college students were better than intelligence agents at weighing danger in a technical, logical way. Reyna actually predicted that she would see these results. She is the originator of what’s called “fuzzy trace theory,” which posits that decision makers simultaneously confront problems in two very different ways. Reyna's study found that experienced intelligence agents think irrationally about risk and loss, even when human lives are at stake.

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