Poor Charlie's Almanac

Psychological of Human Misjudgement

  1. Reward/Punishment Superresponse Tendency
    • Incentives/disincentives matter hugely --> superpower incentive-caused bias
    • Follow Ben Franklin, appeal to self-interest not to reason.
    • Antidotes 1. Fear professional advice if it's good for the advisor 2. Learn/use the basic elements of the advisor's trade as you deal with the advisor 3. Be prepared to double-check/disbelief/replace 
    • Granny's rule - eat carrots before you get dessert. 
  2. Liking/Loving Tendency
    • Liker/lover 1. ignore the faults of and comply with wishes of object of affection 2. favour people, products, actions merely associated with object of affection 4. distort other facts to facilitate love.
  3. Disliking/Hating Tendency
    • Disliker/hater 1. ignores virtues in the object of dislike 2. dislike people, products and actions merely associated with the object of dislike 3. distort other facts to facilitate hatred.
  4. Doubt-Avoidance Tendency
    • Antidote: 1. force a delay in judgement 2. avoid puzzlement or stress
  5. Inconsistency-Avoidance Tendency
    • Few people can list a lot of bad habits they have eliminated and the many good habits they have cultivated and maintained.
    • Antidotes: prevention is better than cure 2. Darwin's dis-confirming evidence 3. See-one, do-one, teach-one in medicine.
  6. Curiosity Tendency
  7. Kantian Fairness Tendency
    • Kant's golden rule - behave such that if everyone behaved that way the human system would work best for everyone.
  8. Envy/Jealousy Tendency
    • Primary human driver > greed.
  9. Reciprocation Tendency
    • Antidote - 1. defer a negative reaction, 2. don't accept even minor favours 3. Make a ridiculous request and then go down to a smaller request 4. Beware of guilt.
  10. Influence-from-Mere-Association Tendency
    • Antidote 1. Carefully examine past success looking for accidental, non-causative factors that will tend to mislead 2. Look for dangerous aspects of the new understanding that were not present when past success occurred.3. Beware of shoot-the-messenger syndrome - welcome bad news.4. classification stereotypes
  11. Simple, Pain-Avoiding Psychological Denial
  12. Excessive Self-Regard Tendency
    • Antidote - 1. beware of tendency to like people like oneself 2. underweight face-to-face interviews, overweight past record 3. have a fair, meritocratic, demanding culture 4. fire those people who don't fix fixable problems 5. force myself to be more objective when considering myself, my family, friends, property & value of past and future activity.
    • Tolstoy effect: Criminals 1. Didn't commit the crime 2. Considering the pressures/disadvantages of their lives it is understandable and forgivable that they behaved as they did
    • There are positives however incl. justified pride in being trustworthy.
  13. Overoptimism Tendency
    • Antidote: Use probability math of Pascal/Fermat
  14. Deprival-Superreaction Tendency
    • Loss>Gain especially if a loss suffered unexpectedly at the last minute.
    • Antidote 1. extreme culture of courtesy despite ideological differences 2. Bring in able and articulate disbelievers of incumbent groupthink 3. Avoid auctions/gambling that take advantage of this tendency 4. 
  15. Social-Proof Tendency
    • Most easily triggered in times of 1. puzzlement 2. stress
    • Antidote - 1. Learn to ignore the example of others when they are wrong. 2. Social proof misleads non only in action but inaction.
  16. Contrast-Misreaction Tendency
    • Antidote: 1. beware small steps to disaster (rather than big) 2. beware manipulation by salesmen of very bad followed by okay or very expensive by okay.
  17. Stress-Influence Tendency
    • Light stress can be beneficial, heavy & sudden stress counterproductive.
    • Antidote - 1. Extreme stress (Pavlov's flooded dogs) can remove previous conditioning 
  18. Availability-Misweighing Tendency
    • Antidotes 1. Checklists 2. Emphasize disconfirming evidence 3. Over value immeasurable under value statistics 4. Underweight vivid evidence & vice versa 5. An idea or fact is not worth more merely because it is easily available to you
    • Uses -Use vivid images to 1. persuade others 2. remember things
  19. Use-It-Or-Lose-It Tendency
    • Antidote 1. Continuously practice all the rarely used skills that you cannot afford to lose 2. Skill raised to fluency (rather than crammed) will first be lost more slowly and second will come back faster
  20. Drug-Misinfluence Tendency
  21. Senescence-Misinfluence Tendency
    • Antidote - 1. hard to learn complex new skills but can maintain previously learned skills 2. Continuous thinking and learning can also help delay the inevitable.
  22. Authority-Misinfluence
    • Antidote 1. checklist 2. careful organisational design
  23. Twaddle Tendency
    • Antidote 1. Keep people who pretend to work and talk a lot from your organization.
  24. Reason-Respecting Tendency
    • Antidote 1. Use Who, What Where, When & Why 2. Beware of meaningless reasons
  25. Lollapalooza Tendency
    • Definition = Tendency to get extreme consequences from confluences of psychological tendencies acting in favour of a particular outcome