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Overview of the Book
Since there aren’t many guarantees in life, we have to take the probabilities into account whenever we make a choice. When making a decision, it is impossible to take into account every possible factor.
There is an element of luck in making choices that might alter the course of one’s life, although these outcomes are more like probabilities than pure chance. The way our brains function influences the choices we make.
What, then, is in your sphere of influence? More than you may realize. You’ll realize that hearing people complain about their bad luck is a waste of time, and that traffic mishaps are almost usually the fault of a third party. Because it allows us to view the future and observe what occurs if particular choices are made, time travel may be the best tool for decision-making.
Point 1: People’s minds often get confused about decisions and how they will turn out. This makes it hard to find and fix mistakes.
Conflicting reports emerged after the conclusion of Super Bowl XLIX. With a 10-point advantage, the Seattle Seahawks were supposed to run out the clock and seal the victory. Instead of running a safe play, coach Pete Carroll gambled and had his quarterback pass. One of the worst calls ever made in a Super Bowl.
The umpire ruled that a player was safe at first base when he was actually out. It was an understandable decision under the circumstances, so it wasn’t his fault. He messed up by making the wrong decision.
Gambler’s fallacy refers to the risky inclination to equate the correctness of a decision with its consequence. Someone who drives intoxicated but avoids an accident can rationalize their behavior by saying they were just lucky.
In truth, few choices can be deemed categorically correct or incorrect. Since both poker and life rely on a combination of chance and bluffing, the two are quite similar. Just like in poker, where the outcome of a hand depends on the player’s read of the other players’ cards, we place wagers based on our predictions about the future.
We can reframe our thinking about our decisions from a black-and-white to a probabilistic framework. The odds of anything happening are approximately 76%, therefore, we should wager on it more often than every 25% of the time. Though we can’t predict the future with absolute certainty, we may say with confidence that any given outcome falls within a given range.
Point 2: We have to overcome our innate propensity to trust what we are told if we are serious about finding the truth.
The goal of every one of us is to act wisely. To state, “I think X is the best choice,” one must first hold solid convictions. Beliefs of high quality are those that are well-reasoned and based on solid evidence. Aiming for truth and objectivity even when something doesn’t correspond with our present belief system is necessary if we want to create good quality beliefs.
Truth-finding is vital, but it isn’t human nature to do it. We’re wired to be more cautious of new ideas. If you hear a lion stirring in the bushes, for instance, your first instinct will be to flee.
What made it possible for people to share ideas and views that lacked direct experience was the development of a common language. Because of this talent, abstract ideas could emerge. We still have the propensity to accept ideas at face value, even when presented with contradicting evidence, since our established processes for developing beliefs are being put to use even when fresh data is available. Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert conducted studies in 1993 in which he showed participants accurate or untrue statements and then asked them questions to determine whether they recalled which ones were which. As a result, participants often assumed that all of the statements were accurate, even if they had reason to suspect otherwise.
While new convictions can be formed with relative ease, old ones are notoriously difficult to shift. Our thoughts actively seek out evidence that supports our existing worldviews while actively rejecting or discounting anything that runs counter to it. We try to protect our egos from the humiliation of being proven wrong by actively searching out information that supports our preconceived notions.
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