30 5 / 2012

"Plans fail because of what we have called tunneling, the neglect of sources of uncertainty outside the plan itself…..The unexpected almost always pushes in a single direction: higher costs and a longer time to completion. On very rare occasions, as with the Empire State Building, you get the opposite: shorter completion and lower costs—these occasions are becoming truly exceptional nowadays…..As I said earlier, we are too narrow-minded a species to consider the possibility of events straying from our mental projections, but furthermore, we are too focused on matters internal to the project to take into account external uncertainty, the “unknown unknown,” so to speak, the contents of the unread books."

25 5 / 2012

"What matters is not how often you are right, but how large your cumulative errors are. And these cumulative errors depend largely on the big surprises, the big opportunities."

05 5 / 2012

"Knowledge, even when it is exact, does not often lead to appropriate actions because we tend to forget what we know, or forget how to process it properly if we do not pay attention, even when we are experts."

04 5 / 2012

"Conventional wisdom holds that memory is like a serial recording device like a computer diskette. In reality, memory is dynamic—not static—like a paper on which new texts (or new versions of the same text) will be continuously recorded, thanks to the power of posterior information."

03 5 / 2012

"Memory is more of a self-serving dynamic revision machine: you remember the last time you remembered the event and, without realizing it, change the story at every subsequent remembrance."

02 5 / 2012

"Empirically, sex, social class, and profession seem to be better predictors of someone’s behavior than nationality"

01 5 / 2012

"The problem of overcausation does not lie with the journalist, but with the public. Nobody would pay one dollar to buy a series of abstract statistics reminiscent of a boring college lecture. We want to be told stories, and there is nothing wrong with that—except that we should check more thoroughly whether the story provides consequential distortions of reality."

30 4 / 2012

"Our human race is affected by a chronic underestimation of the possibility of the future straying from the course initially envisioned (in addition to other biases that sometimes exert a compounding effect)."

29 4 / 2012

"Epistemic arrogance bears a double effect: we overestimate what we know, and underestimate uncertainty, by compressing the range of possible uncertain states (i.e., by reducing the space of the unknown)."

28 4 / 2012

"True, our knowledge does grow, but it is threatened by greater increases in confidence, which make our increase in knowledge at the same time an increase in confusion, ignorance, and conceit."