Cognition scholars attend International Conference on Thinking at Brown

New thought uses probability more than computer logic.
New thought uses probability more than computer logic. | File photo
About 260 cognitive psychologists, scientists, decision-making researchers, philosophers and similar scholars recently met at Brown University as part of the quadrennial International Conference on Thinking.

This is the first time that the U.S. has hosted the event instead of Europe.

The attendees spent three days at Brown to discuss the most recent ideas and research about cognition. Human cognition is a universal field, but there are unique approaches that distinguish between North America and Europe.

As part of the event, Steven Sloman -- the chair of the conference and a professor of cognitive, linguistics and psychological sciences at Brown -- gave a pre-conference interview where he outlined his goal to unite the two European and North American traditions concerning human cognition.

Other topics at the discussion include viewing thoughts as fuzzy and imprecise. Unlike the cognitive science revolution, which is a philosophy that viewed the mind as a kind of computer, this new thought uses probability more than computer logic.

"Understanding how people think is hard, but there have been some deep insights about it,” Sloman said. “It is central to so much that these insights shouldn't be ignored."

The main highlight of the talks was the way that people think causally, or how humans reason about the ways that the world works. This includes the mechanisms that organize the world psychologically, physically and socially. These views will affect how humans distinguish between right and wrong.

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