In his four volume philosophical essay (Fooled by Randomness, The Black Swan, The Bed of Procrustes and Ant-Fragile) on Uncertainty, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, is fond of the term Heuristic. For many this is a word not especially well used in everyday conversation. I would dare to wager that most of you reading this blog can’t remember hearing the word and if you did, you are not exactly sure what it means. In today’s post I’d like to take a short, but closer look at this term.
A Heuristic is a way of thinking that relies on Rule of thumb, rather than on elaborate rules for decision making.
Heuristic is Trial and Error oriented, based on what happens in the real world, not what may work in theory. In this sense one could say that a Heuristic method is very much grounded on experience based intuition. This is similar to what Daniel Kahneman has in mind with his System 1 thinking; “fast, instinctive and emotional (See Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow).
In a way this has very much to with a participatory method. Rather than allowing oneself to be passively “taught”, one engages actively in the learning process.
Heuristics involve the creation of internal, simple, but functional maps or models of the real world.
As I’ve noted in earlier blogs, I’m going through a transition in life right now and am soaking up as much information, ideas and methods as I can from others. Heuristic thinking is one of those methods I’m trying to be more cognizant of in my day to day life.
Maybe something for you, too?