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b00
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PostMon Feb 22, 2021 11:55 am 
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how well do i/we do making decisions in the mountains?
i have often wondered are the mountains an unpredictable environment and how often does  describe me:
"true skill cannot develop in irregular or unpredictable environments, individuals will sometimes make judgments and decisions that are successful by chance. These “lucky” individuals will be susceptible to an illusion of skill and to overconfidence"

when are my/our "expert opinions" better than random guesses and when are they not?

from Daniel Kahneman(nobel prize winner) and Gary Klein's research in American Psychologist September 2009:

Quote:

Conclusions
In an effort that spanned several years, we attempted to
answer one basic question: Under what conditions are the
intuitions of professionals worthy of trust? We do not claim
that the conclusions we reached are surprising (many were
anticipated by Shanteau, 1992, Hogarth, 2001, and Myers,
2002, among others), but we believe that they add up to a
coherent view of expert intuition, which is more than we
expected to achieve when we began.
●Our starting point is that intuitive judgments can
arise from genuine skill—the focus of the NDM
approach— but that they can also arise from inap-
propriate application of the heuristic processes on
which students of the HB tradition have focused.
●Skilled judges are often unaware of the cues that
guide them, and individuals whose intuitions are not
skilled are even less likely to know where their
judgments come from.
●True experts, it is said, know when they don’t know.
However, nonexperts (whether or not they think
they are) certainly do not know when they don’t
know. Subjective confidence is therefore an unreli-
able indication of the validity of intuitive judgments
and decisions.
●The determination of whether intuitive judgments
can be trusted requires an examination of the envi-
ronment in which the judgment is made and of the
opportunity that the judge has had to learn the
regularities of that environment.
●We describe task environments as “high-validity” if
there are stable relationships between objectively iden-
tifiable cues and subsequent events or between cues
and the outcomes of possible actions. Medicine and
firefighting are practiced in environments of fairly
high validity. In contrast, outcomes are effectively
unpredictable in zero-validity environments. To a
good approximation, predictions of the future value of
individual stocks and long-term forecasts of political
events are made in a zero-validity environment.
●Validity and uncertainty are not incompatible. Some
environments are both highly valid and substan-
tially uncertain. Poker and warfare are examples.
The best moves in such situations reliably increase
the potential for success.
●An environment of high validity is a necessary
condition for the development of skilled intuitions.
Other necessary conditions include adequate oppor-
tunities for learning the environment (prolonged
practice and feedback that is both rapid and un-
equivocal). If an environment provides valid cues
and good feedback, skill and expert intuition will
eventually develop in individuals of sufficient talent.
●Although true skill cannot develop in irregular or
unpredictable environments, individuals will some-times make judgments and decisions that are suc-
cessful by chance. These “lucky” individuals will be
susceptible to an illusion of skill and to overconfi-
dence (Arkes, 2001). The financial industry is a rich
source of examples.
●The situation that we have labeled fractionation of
skill is another source of overconfidence. Profes-
sionals who have expertise in some tasks are some-
times called upon to make judgments in areas in
which they have no real skill. (For example, finan-
cial analysts may be skilled at evaluating the likely
commercial success of a firm, but this skill does not
extend to the judgment of whether the stock of that
firm is underpriced.) It is difficult both for the
professionals and for those who observe them to
determine the boundaries of their true expertise.
●We agree that the weak regularities available in
low-validity situations can sometimes support the
development of algorithms that do better than
chance. These algorithms only achieve limited ac-
curacy, but they outperform humans because of
their advantage of consistency. However, the intro-
duction of algorithms to replace human judgment is
likely to evoke substantial resistance and sometimes
has undesirable side effects.
Another conclusion that we both accept is that the
approaches of our respective communities have built-in
limitations. For historical and methodological reasons, HB
researchers generally find errors more interesting and in-
structive than correct performance; but a psychology of
judgment and decision making that ignores intuitive skill is
seriously blinkered. Because their intellectual attitudes de-
veloped in reaction to the HB tradition, members of the
NDM community have an aversion to the word bias and to
the corresponding concept; but a psychology of profes-
sional judgment that neglects predictable errors cannot be
adequate. Although we agree with both of these conclu-
sions, we have yet to move much beyond recognition of the
problem. DK is still fascinated by persistent errors, and GK
still recoils when biases are mentioned. We hope, however,
that our effort may help others do more than we have been
able to do in bringing the insights of both communities to
bear on their common subject.
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KascadeFlat
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PostMon Feb 22, 2021 7:19 pm 
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This is a very interesting subject and one close to my heart.

I guess the implication here is that the mountains are a situation with low-validity, meaning that there are so many variables that it's impossible to develop skill in decision-making. I think their wording is a little harsh and I believe it is possible to develop enough of an understanding of mountain weather and human physiology to make reliable decisions in the outdoors. A good example of a skill with "high-validity" that can be applied to mountain decision making would be using your compass to shoot bearings and navigate.

At the end of the day the study is a very good reminder that hubris is invaluable, especially in a place as big and wild as the mountains. As Picard would remind us - "It is possible to commit no mistakes and still lose".

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awilsondc
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PostMon Feb 22, 2021 9:01 pm 
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I think certain aspects of decision making in the mountains could be considered high or medium validity, things that can clearly be learned and skill developed.  Navigation and preparedness (bringing the right gear for the conditions) could be a high validity aspects of mountain decision making.  Route finding, cross country travel, and scrambling are also skills I believe one can develop where the level of unexpected situations that one might encounter, and the consequences of them, are fairly minimal.  Even the simple chore of walking across rugged terrain is a skill you can certainly develop.  I remember talking with a friend years back... he had taken a friend up Mount Thomson and she, a marathon runner, did great until descending from Bumblebee Pass where she slowed considerable due to having difficulty navigating the rugged terrain.  Learning how to route find through that kind of terrain is a learnable skill either on the macro level (would it be better to do that chossy traverse and maintain elevation, or would it be better to lose elevation and take gentler slopes?) or on the micro level (should I step on this rock or that rock with my next step, or learning how to weight your step on loose steep terrain where footing is tenuous).  I could even see rock climbing as a medium to high validity skill.

I think where you get into more low validity aspects of decision making in the mountains involve situations where there is a certain unpredictable nature involved with potentially high consequences.  The immediate example that comes to mind is anything that involves snow.  Weather you're talking about traveling through avalanche terrain in winter or navigating through glaciated terrain in summer there is a certain amount of unpredictability that comes with traveling on snow, with potentially high consequences.  You may travel through avalanche terrain dozens of times without incident, but the one time you encounter an avalanche may be your last.  Similar situations may arise when navigating through glaciated terrain.  It is here where one can get lulled into a false sense of skill by having multiple experiences where nothing happens before eventually having an incident.  I personally feel the snow example highlights the point about the unpredictable nature of serious events happening, where as something like class 4 scrambling and leaning how to judge the terrain and which holds are solid or not has a far less, although still very real, unpredictable nature to it.

Anyway those are my thoughts on the matter.  These are good discussions to have and I look forward to hearing the insight of others.
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BigBrunyon
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PostTue Feb 23, 2021 2:10 am 
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Ultimately boils down to pure feel. Going on feel. Can't be taught. You know, you know!

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gb
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PostTue Feb 23, 2021 7:55 am 
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awilsondc wrote:
I think certain aspects of decision making in the mountains could be considered high or medium validity, things that can clearly be learned and skill developed.  Navigation and preparedness (bringing the right gear for the conditions) could be a high validity aspects of mountain decision making.  Route finding, cross country travel, and scrambling are also skills I believe one can develop where the level of unexpected situations that one might encounter, and the consequences of them, are fairly minimal.  Even the simple chore of walking across rugged terrain is a skill you can certainly develop.  I remember talking with a friend years back... he had taken a friend up Mount Thomson and she, a marathon runner, did great until descending from Bumblebee Pass where she slowed considerable due to having difficulty navigating the rugged terrain.  Learning how to route find through that kind of terrain is a learnable skill either on the macro level (would it be better to do that chossy traverse and maintain elevation, or would it be better to lose elevation and take gentler slopes?) or on the micro level (should I step on this rock or that rock with my next step, or learning how to weight your step on loose steep terrain where footing is tenuous).  I could even see rock climbing as a medium to high validity skill.

To a large degree this is probably true. But, for instance, risks can arise from things as invisible as a bit of verglas on one part of a rock slide or not another, or some exposure to natural rockfall.

Rock climbing/alpine rock climbing per se has risks dependent on the certainty and frequency of protection, and moreso, for alpine rock climbing (ignoring the descent) the quality of the rock and a route's position with respect to exposure to infrequent but naturally occurring hazards. The simplest example of this is a climb on Cathedral Peak in Tuolumne versus a climb on the North Face of Dragontail. But even on really good rock or alpine rock climbs things can happen, although they happen on a geological scale; but that doesn't mean a large section of rock cannot fail naturally with no warning or prior evidence. Rixon's Pinnacle, or Hallett's Peak 50 Classic Climbs route, or the East Face of Snow Patch Spire Sunshine Route, or the East Face of Gunsight being examples of large rockfalls on spectacular, solid rock. Unlikely, yes, but it happens.

Quote:
I think where you get into more low validity aspects of decision making in the mountains involve situations where there is a certain unpredictable nature involved with potentially high consequences.  The immediate example that comes to mind is anything that involves snow.  Weather you're talking about traveling through avalanche terrain in winter or navigating through glaciated terrain in summer there is a certain amount of unpredictability that comes with traveling on snow, with potentially high consequences.  You may travel through avalanche terrain dozens of times without incident, but the one time you encounter an avalanche may be your last.  Similar situations may arise when navigating through glaciated terrain.  It is here where one can get lulled into a false sense of skill by having multiple experiences where nothing happens before eventually having an incident.  I personally feel the snow example highlights the point about the unpredictable nature of serious events happening, where as something like class 4 scrambling and leaning how to judge the terrain and which holds are solid or not has a far less, although still very real, unpredictable nature to it.

Unlike rock; changes in ice, and even moreso snow, happen on a much faster scale. Evaluating snowpack is the extreme example of this. It is generally fairly easy to evaluate what worst case consequences might be in most cases (the scale of the Oso mudslide being an example of the opposite). Avalanche consequences depend on the maximum depth of potential sliding snow, the size and angle of a slope, the smoothness of the bed surface, and terrain hazards like gullies and cliffs; or even trees one might hit. But trying to predict snowpack behavior is far more difficult, and in situations like this year (at certain points in time), beyond the ability of human prediction because failure for a particular slope at a particular point in time for weak or poorly bonded layers is merely based on probability. One can make many good decisions with acquired skill through feedback, but eventually a bad evaluation of snowpack will be made. So, in the end, it comes back to evaluating consequences and maintaining a risk profile that over time gives one a good chance of being successful throughout a lifetime. That risk profile has to be with respect to consequences, but can vary with conditions. But expect to make mistakes - just don't make it big ones.

Following the 2002-2003 avalanche winter in Canada, with what to this point (2020-2021) was the worst case scenario for a bad snowpack, many things changed in avalanche education and avalanche professional management in Canada. One of the considerations at the time and preceding that winter was whether rule based decision-making was a valid direction for the public. Because of this terrible winter, Grant Statham at Parks Canada came up with the Avalanche Exposure Scale (which we actually started on Telemarktips following the Beglinger accident https://arc.lib.montana.edu/snow-science/objects/issw-2004-520-530.pdf , and one involving a school group from Strathcona Tweedsmuir school in I believe Alberta) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2003_Connaught_Creek_Valley_avalanche#Incident which matches inversely terrain with Avalanche Hazard. The final version, which is now the foundation of recreational CAC avalanche courses, comes in a recreational version and a professional version which actually reflects how experienced avalanche professionals visualize dealing with avalanches.

https://arc.lib.montana.edu/snow-science/objects/issw-2006-491-497.pdf

But that winter which was the worst in North American fatalities until perhaps this year in the US, even professionals resorted to rule based decision-making - for example - CMH ruled out by fiat roughly half of all their helicopter skiing terrain in all of their operations after terrain evaluations.

https://arc.lib.montana.edu/snow-science/objects/issw-2006-742-746.pdf

Some times things are so risky and unpredictable that nobody can really make good decisions (except by luck).
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Celticclimber
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PostWed Feb 24, 2021 3:33 pm 
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I agree with Big Brunyon.
Ya gotta go with your gut. Of course that 'gut feeling' is gained through
many a time out in the wild places.
As Lois Crisler said in her book Arctic Wild (1956):

"Life without risk is mere existence"

I've suggest this before. Get the book:
DEEP SURVIVAL: WHO LIVES. WHO DIES. AND WHY.

Stay smart out there.

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Live every day like you will die to-marrow.
For some day that will be true.
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Pyrites
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PostWed Feb 24, 2021 9:17 pm 
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The authors seem biased towards those who’ve mastered the manipulative parts of their trade, and take action, or maybe are used to working near the edge, and don’t think being scared helps at all.

I’d think to be highly valid the set of circumstances is well understood, and little change in intervention methods are occurring. On a year to year basis understanding of what is occurring in a structure fire may not change much. Over a longer period there has not been a decade since the 2nd War that at the start and beginning that firefighting has been the same.

It is true that the manipulative skills change little.
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moonspots
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PostWed Feb 24, 2021 9:30 pm 
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Celticclimber wrote:
I've suggest this before. Get the book:
DEEP SURVIVAL: WHO LIVES. WHO DIES. AND WHY.

Good book, I read that years ago, put it on the shelf then forgot about it. Now would be a good time to find it again.  up.gif

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PostThu Feb 25, 2021 9:27 am 
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Well, Kahneman is articulate at least...

"An environment of high validity is a necessary condition for the development of skilled intuitions."

You and I might say:  "Unpredictable situations are hard to predict."  Or maybe we would reconsider and just not say anything.

I lost my work colleague and friend Georgia Bakke to an avalanche in Canada.  She and some friends had been dropped off by helicopter at a remote cabin for backcountry skiing.  One of the six triggered an avalanche with three of them at the bottom of the slope.  All three died.

The same group had gone in the previous year and triggered an avalanche, leading to severe injuries to one person.  He was one of the three fatalities.

They were all trained, experienced and had beacons.  So what happened?  I only have this:  both years, they paid a lot of money and made their reservations months in advance.  No refunds for weather if the helicopter can fly.  Avalanche danger was extreme both years.  But what were they supposed to do, eat the money?  Go up there and not leave the cabin?  Or go up and try to be extra careful?  I know they chose the latter the first time it happened, because Georgia told me.  I presume they made the same decision again.

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