January 23, 2014

A few points that I picked up from Professor Noreena Hertz’s lecture this week on ‘the complexity of decision making’. I definitely found it useful, hope you do too!

1. We need to take experts off their pedestals
In the USA 50,000 people/year die due to misdiagnosis! Often, we seed out power to experts uncritically at our peril. So don’t follow the experts blindly. It is important to make a distinctive between good experts and bad experts.

2. We need to become smarter information hunter-gatherers
Use the resources that are now so accessible to us. Google trends can be a useful tool. Obviously we need to keep our brains switched on when using these resources as you cannot believe everything you read. Apparently 30% of all customer reviews are false!

3. We need to seek out difference and dissent
We tend to surround ourselves with people who are like us but difference and diversity is essential for smarter decision-making. We also tend to love information that confirms what we believe; it gives us a dopamine rush. However, we should expose ourselves to divergent and discordant views to better our ideas.

4. We are not the rational decision makers of economic theory
We tend to bring our emotional baggage with us when making decisions. Studies on judges and doctors have found that when stressed we tend to fall back on our racial stereotypes and biases; if we are happy, we tend to be more trusting. Being hungry and lack of sleep can massively impact on decision-making. In fact, sleeping only 4-5 hours a day is equivalent to making decisions drunk!

5. We need to be aware of our own thinking errors
The world is fast moving and what worked yesterday might not work tomorrow. We cannot always expect a linear trajectory.

6. We need to carve out time and space to think
We are slaves to our emails and the new rather than the important. Unplug once in a while! According to Microsoft, if disturbed by an email, takes 22 minutes to get back to the same level of concentration.


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