Cognitive bias and the "thirds" rule

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Horse
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Cognitive bias and the "thirds" rule

Postby Horse » Mon Nov 27, 2017 12:37 pm

Apologies. I mentioned some time ago that a couple of my posts didn't, and the reply to this one of hir's was one of them. However, a post of Kevin Williams' 'Survival Skills' Facebook page reminded me . . . Intriguingly, when I clicked 'quote' the missing post text appeared too!

hir wrote:
Horse wrote:
hir wrote:
Horse wrote:This hints, perhaps, at my qualms over 'thirds', where the first third focuses on acceleration towards the next bend, with a risk that focussed attention on the bend will reduce effort looking for closer hazards.


1). The first sector is used to assess the road ahead and decide upon a safe and appropriate maximum speed for the road and then to accelerate up to that speed as safely, quickly and smoothly as possible; then...

So, the first stage/sector should not involve focusing on the up coming bend. Because the first sector is used for rapid acceleration . . .


This is more the issue. We have a finite amount of concentration and, allied with techniques such as chasing the limit point, is - necessarily - putting attention into the distance potentially missing hazards which are closer. Directing attention like this is known to take it from elsewhere (eg basketball gorilla).


Not sure that I am understanding the problem. During the first stage of the "thirds" technique there isn't undue attention focused on the distance. .


Unintended irony, perhaps, that you don't see the problem :)

From Kevin's post:

An interesting paper by researchers from University College London examined the brain mechanisms behind this, further explaining why our brain becomes 'blind' under high load.

"Engaging attention on a high load task has a strong effect on the brain's response to the rest of the world," says Professor Nilli Lavie of the UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience. "It reduces both the level and precision, or 'tuning', of neural response to anything else around us that is not part of the task.

"These effects of load on neural response explain inattentional blindness. Although our environment hasn't changed, the change in our brain response under load leads to inability to perceive otherwise perfectly visible stimuli outside our focus of attention," she explains.


So how could this apply to 'thirds'? Attention put into the distance, actively looking - visual and mental focus on 'progress' - inhibits ability to identify other hazards. This isn't a criticism of 'thirds' or 'making progress', it's a simple statement of how we can all 'fail' in our observation skills even when somethign is in plain sight.

I mentioned the 'gorilla' but however well you know the idea, this video is still well-worth watching:



Please don't shoot the messenger (yes, I know they shoot horses, don't they?) over this. Really, ignoring what the brain is doing / not doing is no different from ignoring how the brakes and tyres work and their limits.


Background info:
https://betterhumans.coach.me/cognitive ... a472476b18

Four problems that biases help us address:

Information overload, lack of meaning, the need to act fast, and how to know what needs to be remembered for later.

Problem 1: Too much information.

There is just too much information in the world, we have no choice but to filter almost all of it out. Our brain uses a few simple tricks to pick out the bits of information that are most likely going to be useful in some way.
•We notice things that are already primed in memory or repeated often. This is the simple rule that our brains are more likely to notice things that are related to stuff that’s recently been loaded in memory.
See: Availability heuristic, Attentional bias, Illusory truth effect, Mere exposure effect, Context effect, Cue-dependent forgetting, Mood-congruent memory bias, Frequency illusion, Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon, Empathy gap, Omission bias, Base rate fallacy
•Bizarre/funny/visually-striking/anthropomorphic things stick out more than non-bizarre/unfunny things. Our brains tend to boost the importance of things that are unusual or surprising. Alternatively, we tend to skip over information that we think is ordinary or expected.
See: Bizarreness effect, Humor effect, Von Restorff effect, Picture superiority effect, Self-relevance effect, Negativity bias
•We notice when something has changed. And we’ll generally tend to weigh the significance of the new value by the direction the change happened (positive or negative) more than re-evaluating the new value as if it had been presented alone. Also applies to when we compare two similar things.
See: Anchoring, Contrast effect, Focusing effect, Money illusion, Framing effect, Weber–Fechner law, Conservatism, Distinction bias
•We are drawn to details that confirm our own existing beliefs. This is a big one. As is the corollary: we tend to ignore details that contradicts our own beliefs.
See: Confirmation bias, Congruence bias, Post-purchase rationalization, Choice-supportive bias, Selective perception, Observer-expectancy effect, Experimenter’s bias, Observer effect, Expectation bias, Ostrich effect, Subjective validation, Continued influence effect, Semmelweis reflex
•We notice flaws in others more easily than flaws in ourselves. Yes, before you see this entire article as a list of quirks that compromise how other people think, realize that you are also subject to these biases.
See: Bias blind spot, Naïve cynicism, Naïve realism

Problem 2: Not enough meaning.

The world is very confusing, and we end up only seeing a tiny sliver of it, but we need to make some sense of it in order to survive. Once the reduced stream of information comes in, we connect the dots, fill in the gaps with stuff we already think we know, and update our mental models of the world.
•We find stories and patterns even in sparse data. Since we only get a tiny sliver of the world’s information, and also filter out almost everything else, we never have the luxury of having the full story. This is how our brain reconstructs the world to feel complete inside our heads.
See: Confabulation, Clustering illusion, Insensitivity to sample size, Neglect of probability, Anecdotal fallacy, Illusion of validity, Masked man fallacy, Recency illusion, Gambler’s fallacy, Hot-hand fallacy, Illusory correlation, Pareidolia, Anthropomorphism
•We fill in characteristics from stereotypes, generalities, and prior histories whenever there are new specific instances or gaps in information. When we have partial information about a specific thing that belongs to a group of things we are pretty familiar with, our brain has no problem filling in the gaps with best guesses or what other trusted sources provide. Conveniently, we then forget which parts were real and which were filled in.
See: Group attribution error, Ultimate attribution error, Stereotyping, Essentialism, Functional fixedness, Moral credential effect, Just-world hypothesis, Argument from fallacy, Authority bias, Automation bias, Bandwagon effect, Placebo effect
•We imagine things and people we’re familiar with or fond of as better than things and people we aren’t familiar with or fond of. Similar to the above but the filled-in bits generally also include built in assumptions about the quality and value of the thing we’re looking at.
See: Halo effect, In-group bias, Out-group homogeneity bias, Cross-race effect, Cheerleader effect, Well-traveled road effect, Not invented here, Reactive devaluation, Positivity effect
•We simplify probabilities and numbers to make them easier to think about. Our subconscious mind is terrible at math and generally gets all kinds of things wrong about the likelihood of something happening if any data is missing.
See: Mental accounting, Normalcy bias, Appeal to probability fallacy, Murphy’s Law, Subadditivity effect, Survivorship bias, Zero sum bias, Denomination effect, Magic number 7+-2
•We think we know what others are thinking. In some cases this means that we assume that they know what we know, in other cases we assume they’re thinking about us as much as we are thinking about ourselves. It’s basically just a case of us modeling their own mind after our own (or in some cases after a much less complicated mind than our own).
See: Curse of knowledge, Illusion of transparency, Spotlight effect, Illusion of external agency, Illusion of asymmetric insight, Extrinsic incentive error
•We project our current mindset and assumptions onto the past and future. Magnified also by the fact that we’re not very good at imagining how quickly or slowly things will happen or change over time.
See: Hindsight bias, Outcome bias, Moral luck, Declinism, Telescoping effect, Rosy retrospection, Impact bias, Pessimism bias, Planning fallacy, Time-saving bias, Pro-innovation bias, Projection bias, Restraint bias, Self-consistency bias

Problem 3: Need to act fast.

We’re constrained by time and information, and yet we can’t let that paralyze us. Without the ability to act fast in the face of uncertainty, we surely would have perished as a species long ago. With every piece of new information, we need to do our best to assess our ability to affect the situation, apply it to decisions, simulate the future to predict what might happen next, and otherwise act on our new insight.
•In order to act, we need to be confident in our ability to make an impact and to feel like what we do is important. In reality, most of this confidence can be classified as overconfidence, but without it we might not act at all.
See: Overconfidence effect, Egocentric bias, Optimism bias, Social desirability bias, Third-person effect, Forer effect, Barnum effect, Illusion of control, False consensus effect, Dunning-Kruger effect, Hard-easy effect, Illusory superiority, Lake Wobegone effect, Self-serving bias, Actor-observer bias, Fundamental attribution error, Defensive attribution hypothesis, Trait ascription bias, Effort justification, Risk compensation, Peltzman effect
•In order to stay focused, we favor the immediate, relatable thing in front of us over the delayed and distant. We value stuff more in the present than in the future, and relate more to stories of specific individuals than anonymous individuals or groups. I’m surprised there aren’t more biases found under this one, considering how much it impacts how we think about the world.
See: Hyperbolic discounting, Appeal to novelty, Identifiable victim effect
•In order to get anything done, we’re motivated to complete things that we’ve already invested time and energy in. The behavioral economist’s version of Newton’s first law of motion: an object in motion stays in motion. This helps us finish things, even if we come across more and more reasons to give up.
See: Sunk cost fallacy, Irrational escalation, Escalation of commitment, Loss aversion, IKEA effect, Processing difficulty effect, Generation effect, Zero-risk bias, Disposition effect, Unit bias, Pseudocertainty effect, Endowment effect, Backfire effect
•In order to avoid mistakes, we’re motivated to preserve our autonomy and status in a group, and to avoid irreversible decisions. If we must choose, we tend to choose the option that is perceived as the least risky or that preserves the status quo. Better the devil you know than the devil you do not.
See: System justification, Reactance, Reverse psychology, Decoy effect, Social comparison bias, Status quo bias
•We favor options that appear simple or that have more complete information over more complex, ambiguous options. We’d rather do the quick, simple thing than the important complicated thing, even if the important complicated thing is ultimately a better use of time and energy.
See: Ambiguity bias, Information bias, Belief bias, Rhyme as reason effect, Bike-shedding effect, Law of Triviality, Delmore effect, Conjunction fallacy, Occam’s razor, Less-is-better effect

Problem 4: What should we remember?

There’s too much information in the universe. We can only afford to keep around the bits that are most likely to prove useful in the future. We need to make constant bets and trade-offs around what we try to remember and what we forget. For example, we prefer generalizations over specifics because they take up less space. When there are lots of irreducible details, we pick out a few standout items to save and discard the rest. What we save here is what is most likely to inform our filters related to problem 1’s information overload, as well as inform what comes to mind during the processes mentioned in problem 2 around filling in incomplete information. It’s all self-reinforcing.
•We edit and reinforce some memories after the fact. During that process, memories can become stronger, however various details can also get accidentally swapped. We sometimes accidentally inject a detail into the memory that wasn’t there before.
See: Misattribution of memory, Source confusion, Cryptomnesia, False memory, Suggestibility, Spacing effect
•We discard specifics to form generalities. We do this out of necessity, but the impact of implicit associations, stereotypes, and prejudice results in some of the most glaringly bad consequences from our full set of cognitive biases.
See: Implicit associations, Implicit stereotypes, Stereotypical bias, Prejudice, Negativity bias, Fading affect bias
•We reduce events and lists to their key elements. It’s difficult to reduce events and lists to generalities, so instead we pick out a few items to represent the whole.
See: Peak–end rule, Leveling and sharpening, Misinformation effect, Duration neglect, Serial recall effect, List-length effect, Modality effect, Memory inhibition, Part-list cueing effect, Primacy effect, Recency effect, Serial position effect, Suffix effect
•We store memories differently based on how they were experienced. Our brains will only encode information that it deems important at the time, but this decision can be affected by other circumstances (what else is happening, how is the information presenting itself, can we easily find the information again if we need to, etc) that have little to do with the information’s value.
See: Levels of processing effect, Testing effect, Absent-mindedness, Next-in-line effect, Tip of the tongue phenomenon, Google effect

Great, how am I supposed to remember all of this?

You don’t have to. But you can start by remembering these four giant problems our brains have evolved to deal with over the last few million years (and maybe bookmark this page if you want to occasionally reference it for the exact bias you’re looking for):
1.Information overload sucks, so we aggressively filter. Noise becomes signal.
2.Lack of meaning is confusing, so we fill in the gaps. Signal becomes a story.
3.Need to act fast lest we lose our chance, so we jump to conclusions. Stories become decisions.
4.This isn’t getting easier, so we try to remember the important bits. Decisions inform our mental models of the world.

https://cdn-images-1.medium.com/max/192 ... IkElQ.jpeg

In order to avoid drowning in information overload, our brains need to skim and filter insane amounts of information and quickly, almost effortlessly, decide which few things in that firehose are actually important and call those out.

In order to construct meaning out of the bits and pieces of information that come to our attention, we need to fill in the gaps, and map it all to our existing mental models. In the meantime we also need to make sure that it all stays relatively stable and as accurate as possible.

In order to act fast, our brains need to make split-second decisions that could impact our chances for survival, security, or success, and feel confident that we can make things happen.

And in order to keep doing all of this as efficiently as possible, our brains need to remember the most important and useful bits of new information and inform the other systems so they can adapt and improve over time, but no more than that.

Sounds pretty useful! So what’s the downside?

In addition to the four problems, it would be useful to remember these four truths about how our solutions to these problems have problems of their own:
1.We don’t see everything. Some of the information we filter out is actually useful and important.
2.Our search for meaning can conjure illusions. We sometimes imagine details that were filled in by our assumptions, and construct meaning and stories that aren’t really there.
3.Quick decisions can be seriously flawed. Some of the quick reactions and decisions we jump to are unfair, self-serving, and counter-productive.
4.Our memory reinforces errors. Some of the stuff we remember for later just makes all of the above systems more biased, and more damaging to our thought processes.

By keeping the four problems with the world and the four consequences of our brain’s strategy to solve them, the availability heuristic (and, specifically, the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon) will insure that we notice our own biases more often. If you visit this page to refresh your mind every once in a while, the spacing effect will help underline some of these thought patterns so that our bias blind spot and naïve realism is kept in check.

Nothing we do can make the 4 problems go away (until we have a way to expand our minds’ computational power and memory storage to match that of the universe) but if we accept that we are permanently biased, but that there’s room for improvement, confirmation bias will continue to help us find evidence that supports this, which will ultimately lead us to better understanding ourselves.

"Since learning about confirmation bias, I keep seeing it everywhere!”

Cognitive biases are just tools, useful in the right contexts, harmful in others. They’re the only tools we’ve got, and they’re even pretty good at what they’re meant to do. We might as well get familiar with them and even appreciate that we at least have some ability to process the universe with our mysterious brains.

Zoomable cognitive bias diagram:
https://cdn-images-1.medium.com/max/200 ... 6DCNA.jpeg
Only about 170-odd of them . . .

https://i.kinja-img.com/gawker-media/im ... 155794.png
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Re: Masters assessment

Postby Horse » Mon Nov 27, 2017 1:10 pm

My own views. For better or worse :)

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Mr Cholmondeley-Warner
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Re: Masters assessment

Postby Mr Cholmondeley-Warner » Mon Nov 27, 2017 2:10 pm

Horse wrote:I mentioned some time ago that a couple of my posts didn't, and the reply to this one of hir's was one of them.

hir wrote:
Horse wrote:
hir wrote:
1). The first sector is used to assess the road ahead and decide upon a safe and appropriate maximum speed for the road and then to accelerate up to that speed as safely, quickly and smoothly as possible; then...

So, the first stage/sector should not involve focusing on the up coming bend. Because the first sector is used for rapid acceleration . . .


This is more the issue. We have a finite amount of concentration and, allied with techniques such as chasing the limit point, is - necessarily - putting attention into the distance potentially missing hazards which are closer. Directing attention like this is known to take it from elsewhere (eg basketball gorilla).


Not sure that I am understanding the problem. During the first stage of the "thirds" technique there isn't undue attention focused on the distance. .


Unintended irony, perhaps, that you don't see the problem :)

(and another 3000 or so words borrowed from t'internet - too tedious to read now because I need to concentrate on more immediate stuff ;) )

I think perhaps you're concentrating too much on the mention of the thirds technique and imagining it's somehow using all the driver's attention bandwidth. It isn't. You probably use something similar yourself, and having learnt it (whatever it is), it becomes a subconscious competence. You are trained to look as far into the distance as you can, whenever you can, and it takes fractions of a second to absorb what's there. We don't spend the whole straight working out where the thirds are, or what is the appropriate terminal speed. We just do it. The gorilla video analogy is inappropriate because it deliberately diverts you from the important stuff by making you concentrate on the unimportant FOR A PERIOD OF NEARLY 45 SECONDS! If you did that on the road, you'd be dead, so you don't. You time-slice. A little attention here, a little there ... always worrying about what you might have missed and going back over what you observed, noting changes.
Nick

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Re: Masters assessment

Postby waremark » Mon Nov 27, 2017 2:39 pm

Mr Cholmondeley-Warner wrote:The gorilla video analogy is inappropriate because it deliberately diverts you from the important stuff by making you concentrate on the unimportant FOR A PERIOD OF NEARLY 45 SECONDS! If you did that on the road, you'd be dead, so you don't. You time-slice. A little attention here, a little there ... always worrying about what you might have missed and going back over what you observed, noting changes.

But it definitely reminds you of the dangers of distraction.

Having seen the gorilla video previously, I was conscientiously scanning the whole scene througout the video, so of course I saw the gorilla and the member of the black team leaving, but I did not see the change of colour - perhaps because I was looking for movement. As Horse's 1000's of words explain, it is enormously difficult, perhaps impossible, to take in everything which is visible.

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Re: Masters assessment

Postby Mr Cholmondeley-Warner » Mon Nov 27, 2017 2:56 pm

waremark wrote:Having seen the gorilla video previously, I was conscientiously scanning the whole scene througout the video, so of course I saw the gorilla and the member of the black team leaving, but I did not see the change of colour - perhaps because I was looking for movement. As Horse's 1000's of words explain, it is enormously difficult, perhaps impossible, to take in everything which is visible.

Yes, but it's just another example of deliberately sneaky tactics. You knew there would be a gorilla, so some of your attention was focused on gorillas, even before you decided whether or not to bother counting passes. Guessing what other stuff might happen, you used some of your attention bandwidth on those (potential) things, again achieving the objective of distracting you from something you didn't guess in advance.

We do the same on the road. Driving through woodland, we consciously or sub-consciously use some of our bandwidth looking out for wildlife. In urban areas we're monitoring all the pedestrians for suspicious activity, and so on. Something unexpected can always happen, so we need to reserve a bit of bandwidth for processing that if / when it happens.
Nick

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Re: Masters assessment

Postby GTR1400MAN » Mon Nov 27, 2017 3:56 pm

The Pink Kittens video though shows how just how much info we filter out, even when we are looking for something.

viewtopic.php?f=2&t=669

The video is promoting not being distracted by mobile phone use, but we all filter out information all the time ... and importantly we don't even know we are doing it (at the time).

We have techniques to minimize it, but most road users know nothing of these. Just look on any motorbike forum and see pages of 'blind drivers' comments (same for cyclists referring to cars). Truth is, some are downright distracted by whats going on in the car, but most them did look and are truly amazed they didn't see.
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Re: Masters assessment

Postby Horse » Mon Nov 27, 2017 4:07 pm

Mr Cholmondeley-Warner wrote: Yes, but it's just another example of deliberately sneaky tactics. You knew there would be a gorilla, so some of your attention was focused on gorillas, even before you decided whether or not to bother counting passes. Guessing what other stuff might happen, you used some of your attention bandwidth on those (potential) things, again achieving the objective of distracting you from something you didn't guess in advance.

We do the same on the road. Something unexpected can always happen, so we need to reserve a bit of bandwidth for processing that if / when it happens.


So asking someone to concentrate on the far distance (which they must do to implement any variation of 'thirds') MUST take concentration away from the near distance. Worse, though, is that it's not just a vision/search/hazard perception issue: confirmation bias etc. will affect the decisions all drivers make, so if they are asked to 'make progress' then they are likely to look for evidence to reinforce those decisions.

I know you put a ' ;) ' after the '3000 words - tedious' comment, so please read it when you have a chance. :hit:
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Re: Masters assessment

Postby Horse » Mon Nov 27, 2017 4:12 pm

NB, more words copied from a PDF :) Do you use commentaries to improve driving?

Producing a Commentary Slows Concurrent Hazard Perception Responses.
Angela H. Young, Peter Chapman, David Crundall
University of Nottingham

Commentary driver training involves teaching drivers how to verbally acknowledge their perceptual and cognitive processes while driving, and has been shown to improve performance in driving-related tasks. However, those studies demonstrating benefits of commentary training have not done so under conditions of live commentary, which is the typical protocol used with advanced drivers. In the current study we present the results of two experiments that show that producing a commentary can actually slow responses to hazards on a concurrent hazard perception task.

In Experiment 1 participants producing a live commentary showed significantly longer hazard response times than an untrained, silent, control group. In Experiment 2 a shorter, clipped commentary was introduced to attempt to reduce the demands placed upon participants. However, both the clipped and full commentary conditions showed reduced accuracy and longer response times, relative to a silent condition, and no difference was observed between the two types of commentary.

Analysis of eye movements in both experiments revealed that fixation durations were shorter when a commentary was produced, but time to first fixate the hazard was not affected. This suggests that commentaries encourage more active interrogation of the visual scene, but that this can be detrimental to performance in average drivers.
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Re: Masters assessment

Postby Mr Cholmondeley-Warner » Mon Nov 27, 2017 4:32 pm

Horse wrote:
Mr Cholmondeley-Warner wrote: Yes, but it's just another example of deliberately sneaky tactics. You knew there would be a gorilla, so some of your attention was focused on gorillas, even before you decided whether or not to bother counting passes. Guessing what other stuff might happen, you used some of your attention bandwidth on those (potential) things, again achieving the objective of distracting you from something you didn't guess in advance.

We do the same on the road. Something unexpected can always happen, so we need to reserve a bit of bandwidth for processing that if / when it happens.


So asking someone to concentrate on the far distance (which they must do to implement any variation of 'thirds') MUST take concentration away from the near distance. Worse, though, is that it's not just a vision/search/hazard perception issue: confirmation bias etc. will affect the decisions all drivers make, so if they are asked to 'make progress' then they are likely to look for evidence to reinforce those decisions.

I know you put a ' ;) ' after the '3000 words - tedious' comment, so please read it when you have a chance. :hit:

Nobody is ever asked to "make progress". True, it may be an aspiration, but much of advanced coaching is about not making it happen, but letting it be the result of improving the other processes, of which, observation is absolutely the principal and key one.

Looking (not concentrating - please put that aside, we're talking fractions of a second) at the far distance first is not just about making progress either. It's about taking in the scene as a whole, then distilling it into parts. When you've been out with a truly well-trained driver, the thing that never ceases to amaze and gall you about them is how much they observe, without seeming to have to try. Yet they are trying - it's just that their training has made that trying sub-conscious. They're not complacent. They know there's always more information out there and they're seeking it out. Their vision flickers all over the place scanning potential "surprise horizons". But they start with the farthest point they can see. The more you focus on individual items, the less attention you have left for the rest, so you scan all around.

Commentary is interesting too. Agreed, it slows down some* people's thinking. Yet it can have a wonderful effect of making others perform better, by focusing their attention on what they should be doing, and breaking sub-conscious bad habits.

* OK, everyone's thinking (but see compensation).
Nick

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Re: Masters assessment

Postby Horse » Mon Nov 27, 2017 5:12 pm

Mr Cholmondeley-Warner wrote: Nobody is ever asked to "make progress". True, it may be an aspiration, but . . . by focusing their attention on what they should be doing


Pretty much top and tail of your post. If someone is assessed on it, then they will be thinking about it, it's unavoidable. Then they will look for evidence (confirmation bias) to support the intention.

I'm not suggesting that anyone even attempting to 'make safe progress' will *always* end their attempts in a blaze of glory (or gory), but there are implications - as you have mentioned - on how the concepts are put across to trainees etc.

NB A good friend was marked down to a Silver on his RoSPA bike test because, the examiner said, he wasn't accelerating hard enough.
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