When catching a series of unfamiliar buses to an unfamiliar part of town, we can find ourselves at the mercy of printed maps and scheduling keys. The experienced traveller senses that they should leave ample time on a first journey for unexpected contingencies, yet still can be derailed when things go wrong.
There is an interesting phenomenon whereby, if something strange happens during the first portion of the journey, it causes us to question the reliability of the rest of the information in a disproportionate way. For example, suppose we get off at a bus stop not listed in the schedule. This can be sufficiently disconcerting that we anxiously scrutinize the available information at the next bus stop to ensure we that our next bus actually stops there. Upon finding no information about our bus, we might discard our printed plans altogether and find an entirely new route based on nothing but information available at street-level. Of course, then the second bus arrives, and we miss it, because we're too busy investigating alternative routes at other bus stops.
What explains this radical departure from rational behaviour? Surely the peculiarities of our journey are due to human error rather than incorrect schedules? It seems that the emotional impact of two unexpected outcomes is so great that we diverge vehemently from a likely hypothesis in favour of a less substantiated theory.
I'd like to do more work on the role of emotions on rational decision-making. Bayesian belief revision gives us a guideline for how we should revise belief in light of evidence, but, perhaps it doesn't explain how we pick between two equivalently believable hypotheses (instrumentalism) or why we shift dramatically to an untested theory. Instead, something emotional or aesthetic comes to play. The emotions might offer impetus to make radical hypothesis changes regardless of sensible evidence analysis. Emotions create cognitive mutations; in themselves dangerous, but in conjunction with rational decision-making; lateral genius.