Part of the skill in life comes from learning to be a better belief calibrator, using experience and information to more objectively update our beliefs to more accurately represent the world. The more accurate our beliefs, the better the foundation of the bets we make.
As with many of our irrationalities, how we form beliefs was shaped by the evolutionary push toward efficiency rather than accuracy. Abstract belief formation (that is, belifs outside our direct experience, conveyed through language) is likely among the few things that are uniquely human, making ti relatively new in the scope of evolutionary time.
In poker, this belief-formation process can cost players a lot of money.
Instead of alterning our beliefs to fit new information, we do the opposite, alterning our interpretation of that information to fit our beliefs.
We do not simply 'react to' a happening... We behave according to what we bring to the occasion.
It takes on a life of its own, leading us to notice and seek out evidence confirmig our belif, rarely challenge the validity of confirming evidence, and ignore or work hard to actively discredit information contracdicting the belief. This irrational, circular information-processing pattern is called motivated reasoning. The way we process new information is driven by the belifs we hold, strengthening them. Those strengthened belifs then drive how we process further information, and so on.
Protecting the belife guides how we treat further information relevant to the belif.
We are wired to protect our belifs even when our goal is to truthseek Being smart and aware of our capacity for irrationality alone doesn't help us refrain from biased reasoning.
Leaning Loop 1:
Belief -> Bet -> Outcome -> Bet2
Belief ->Bet -> Outcome -> Skill /luck -> Belief
Our capacity for self-deception has few boundaries. It is usually a reason that flatters us, puts us in a good light, and it is imbued with an added potency by the attribution.
Self-serving bias is a deeply embedded and robust thinking pattern. Understanding why this pattern emerges is the first step to developing practical strategies to improve our ability to learn from experience. We take credit for goo things and deflect blame for bad things.
Black-and-white thinking, uncolored by the reality of uncertainty, is a driver of both motivated reasoning and self-serving bias.
A lot of the way we feel about ourselves comes from how we think we compare with others. This robust and pervasive habit of mind impedes learning. Shifting what it is that makes us feel good about ourselves, we can move toward a more rational fielding of ourcomes and a more compassionate view of others.
Habits operate in a neurological loop consisting of three parts: the cue, the routine, and the reward. To change a habit, you must keep the old cue, and deliver the old reward, but insert a new routine.
WE consider a greater number of alternative causes more seriously than we otherwise would have. That is truthseeking.
The prospect of a bet makes us examine and refine our beliefs, in this case the belief about whether luck or skill wwas the main influence in the way things turned out. Betting on what we believe makes us take a closer look by making explicit what is already implicit: we have a great deal at risk in assessing why anything turned out the way it did. That sure sounds like a bet worth taking seriously.
a truthseeking charter:
1) focus on accuracy (over confirmation), which includes rewarding truthseeking, objectivity, and open-mindedness within the group;
2) accountability, for which members have advance notice; and
accountability is a willingness or obligation to answer for our actions or beliefs to others.
3) Openness to a diversity of ideas
Calibration requires an open-minded consideration of diverse points of view and alternative hypotheses.
Accuracy, accountability and diversity wrapped into a group's charter all contribute to better decision-making, especially if the group promotes thinking in bets.
The only way to gain knowledge and approach truth is by examining every variety of opinion.
Several ways to communicate to maximize our ability to engage in a truthseeking way with anyone:
1) Express uncertainty 2) Lead with assent 3) Ask for a temporary agreement to engage in truth-seeking. 4) Focus on the future.
The tendency we all have to favor our present-self at the expense of our future-self is called temporal discounting. We are willing to take an irrationally large discount to get a reward now instead of waiting for a bigger rewared later.
Moving regreat in front of a decision can influence us to make a better decision and helps us treat ourselves after the fact. 10-10-10, in 10 minutes, in 10 months and in 10 years.
the precommitment or predecision doesn't completely bind our hands to the mast.
We can commit to vigilance around words, phrases, and thoughts that signal that we might be not be our most rational selves. The sample list:
- signs of the illusion of certainty: "I know," "I knew it."
- Overconfidence: similar terms to the illusion of certainty
- Irrational outcome fielding: I can't believe how unlucky I got.
- Any kind of moaning or complaining about bad luck just to off-load it, with no real point to the story other than to get sympathy.
- Generalized characterizations of people meant to dismiss their ideas: insulting, pejorative characterizations of others, like "idiot" or, in poker, "donkey."
- Other violations of the Mertonian norm of universalism, shooting the message because we don't think much of the messenger.
- Signals that we have zoomed in on a moment, out of proportion with the scope of time: "worst day ever,"
- Expressions that explicitly signal motivated reasoning, accepting or rejecting information without much evidence, like "conventional wisdom" or "if you ask anybody" or "can you prove that it's not true?"
- The word "wrong", which deserves its own swear jar.
- Lack of self-compassion: if we're going to be self-critical, the focus should be on the lesson and how to calibrate future decisions.
- Signals we're being overly generous editors when we share a story.
- Infecting our listeners with a conflict of interest, including our own conclusion or belief when asking for advice or informing the listener of the outcome before getting their input.
- Terms that discourage engagement of others and their opinions, including expressions of certainty and also initial phrasing inconsistent with that great lesson from improvisation
We have to take satisfaction in assessing the probabilities of different outcomes given the decisions under consideration and in executing the bet we think is best. With the constant stream of decisions and outcomes under uncertain conditions, you get used to losing a lot.