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How to Make Irrational People Rational

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How to Make Irrational People Rational

Are windmills machines used to produce wind? The faster windmills are observed to rotate, the more wind is observed to be. Therefore, wind is caused by the rotation of windmills. [1]

This is an example of reverse causality, which happen when we illogically infer causation from correlation. Often times, we mistakenly imply a strong correlation means causation. Let’s look at another example of this mistake. U.S. spending on science, space, and technology correlates with Suicides by hanging, strangulation and suffocation. [2]

    Let’s start by looking at the definition of both correlation and causation.

    Correlation. In statistics, a correlation is a single number describing the degree of relationship between two variables. [3] The key word here is relationship, where a relationship may exist, but not causation.

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    Causation. If A causes B we have direct causation. Meaning, one event is 100% causing something else. For example, if you stand in the rain, this will cause you to get wet.

      Let’s look at another example, one that might initially confuse you (which demonstrates how easy it is to imply correlation equals causation). Does the following imply causation?

      Statement. If you commit a felony, you will go to jail.

      Answer. This does not infer causation, because you might go to jail if you get caught. Even if you get caught, you could still receive probation or a lesser punishment. Essentially, we can’t say for sure that committing a felony will cause you to go to jail. [4]

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      To avoid falling into this trap, peel back the layers.

      We can use a futures research method that will help us focus on an in-depth analysis of our problem. This method is called Causal Layer Analysis (CLA) and allows us to dig into the layers (or dimensions) of a problem. Let’s see how it works. [5]

        There are four layers of CLA

        • Layer #1 – Litany. This is our day-to-day future where solutions to problems are typically short term.
        • Layer #2 – Systemic Causes. Here we focus on the social, economic, and political issues.
        • Layer #3 – Worldview. This is our big picture paradigm.
        • Layer #4 – Myth or Metaphor. Our deep unconscious stories reside in this layer.

        Using CLA will assist us in getting to the root cause of a problem. Go back to our U.S. spending and Suicide example. Instead of implying causation, we should dig into the root cause of this issue. This example shows a strong correlation, where r = .99. The closer we are to 1, the stronger the correlation. However, we know this is not logical. So, we must gather more data associated to this problem, identify other potential causes, and identify the true root of the problem.

        Let’s look at some techniques we can use for this.

        1. Fishbone Diagram

        The Fishbone Diagram (otherwise known as an Ishikawa or Cause-and-Effect Diagram) is a way to identify as many possible causes for an effect or problem. [6]

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          2. 5-Why

          Here is a technique you mastered when you were a child, yet you forgot when you became an adult. Simply ask why. The 5-Why technique is a powerful tool allowing us to peel back the layers of symptoms and get to the root of the problem. [7]

            3. Apollo Root Cause Analysis

            This is a way to dig deeper into root cause analysis. Here we look for (at least) two causes in the form of an action and condition, then ask why of each answer and continue to ask why of each cause until there are no more answers. [8]

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              4. Pareto Analysis

              The Pareto analysis is where we use the Pareto principle. Here we find that 20% of our work creates 80% of the results… or 80% of our problem comes from 20% of a certain population. This is a powerful and effective technique for quickly identifying a problem area to focus on.

                Can you now see the error when implying correlation equals causation? Once we understand how errors like this occur, we can use powerful techniques to expose them and find the true root cause to the problem. We are blind when we fail to do this. It’s like trying to look into a forest, but you are blinded by the trees; where you know there is a forest in there somewhere.

                Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

                Reference

                More by this author

                Dr. Jamie Schwandt

                Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt & Red Team Critical Thinker

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                Last Updated on January 13, 2022

                How to Use Travel Time Effectively

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                How to Use Travel Time Effectively

                Most of us associate travel and time with what we’re going to do one we get to our destination. Planning and mapping out what to do once you arrive can certainly make for a more pleasurable vacation, but there are things you can do while you are on your way that can make it even better.

                Sure, you can plan for the things you’re going to do on your vacation while you are travelling en route – but what about making use of that time for other things that you don’t usually do when you’re at home? You don’t need to have your gadgets with you to do it, and you can really connect with yourself if you take the time to manage your life while heading towards your vacation destination.

                Here are some great tips to help you with your time management while you travel, some of which are more conventional than others. Nonetheless, you can find out what works best for you and apply them accordingly depending on when and how you are travelling.

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                1. Take Your Time Getting There

                As I write this, I’m on a flight to San Francisco. Flying is the fastest way to get from place to place, and for many people it’s really the only way to travel.

                But I’ve often taken the train or ferry on trips so that I have extra time without distraction to get more done. I’m not worrying about navigation or lack of space to do what I want to do. Instead I’m able to focus on getting stuff done during the time I’ve got without feeling rushed. For example, when I took the train from Vancouver to Portland, it was an eight hour trip and I managed to get a ton of writing done and closed a lot of open loops. It also was less expensive than flying, which was a bonus.

                Sometimes taking the long way to get somewhere on vacation can be the best thing for you to get somewhere with your life.

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                2. Go Gadget-Free

                This is going to be a tough one for a lot of you. But why do you need to bring your gadgets with you when you go on vacation? It isn’t be a bad idea to leave all but one of them behind, and only pull out that one when you absolutely need to do so. In some countries, you’d be wise to be discreet with them anyway since flaunting them in front of those that are less fortunate than you isn’t a good practice. While it may not seem like flaunting to you, in different cultures it can definitely come across that way.

                If you can’t go gadget-free, then at least go Internet-free. If you use a task management app that requires syncing across your multiple devices to be effective, remember that if you only have the one device with you then it can be the “master device” for the time being and will store your data locally anyway. Just sync up when you get home.

                3. Reflect and Prepare

                Finally, going on any sort of excursion gives you the perfect opportunity to reflect on where you’ve been. The fact you have removed yourself from where you usually are can give you a perspective that you simply can’t get when you’re at home. You may want to journal your thoughts during this time – and by taking more time to get to your destination you’ll have more time to dig deeper into it.

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                After a period of reflection – however long that happens to be – you can then begin to not only prepare for the rest of your travels, you can prepare for the rest of what happens afterward. The reflection period is important, though. You need to really know where you’ve been in order to properly look at where you want to be. Time away from things gives you that chance.

                Conclusion

                Traveling isn’t always about where you’re going and how quickly you can get there. In fact, it’s rarely about that at all.

                More often it’s where you’re at in your head that will dictate how much you benefit from traveling. So don’t just go somewhere fast. Instead, take your time on the way there and take the time to connect with not only where you are but who are while you’re there.

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                If you do that, you’ll have a better chance to be who you want to be when you leave.

                Featured photo credit: bruce mars via unsplash.com

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