The siren song of certainty

Fast and slow

Certainty blocks us from really seeing and observing, but Uncertainty Is An Impossible Sell. Sad, and maybe true. Sad because the siren song of certainty tempts people into wasteful spending and poorly informed decision-making and makes it tougher for honest people to compete in the marketplace of paid work and ideas.

Daniel Kahneman:

Optimism is highly valued, socially and in the market; people and firms reward the providers of dangerously misleading information more than they reward truth tellers …
Experts who acknowledge the full extent of their ignorance may expect to be replaced by more confident competitors, who are better able to gain the trust of clients. An unbiased appreciation of uncertainty is a cornerstone of rationality—but it is not what people and organizations want. Extreme uncertainty is paralysing under dangerous circumstances, and the admission that one is merely guessing is especially unacceptable when the stakes are high. Acting on pretended knowledge is often the preferred solution.

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  • Last modified: 2019/12/18 14:44