Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Being Right


Predicting something correctly only gives the illusion of 'being right'. The world is far more uncertain than that. Nate Silver of fivethirtyeight.com gives roughly equal chances to Hillary Clinton (a) Winning Solidly, (b) Winning by a large margin, and (c) a close call where Trump could win. This means he thinks Clinton is a strong favourite, but he is far more nervous than most people thinking Clinton being favourite means she will win. Daniel Kahneman points out in 'Thinking Fast and Slow' that even statisticians aren't intuitive statisticians. We are far too willing to believe things without sufficient evidence. We overestimate our control over the world. We underestimate randomness. We don't think in 'alternate possible paths'. Even if Clinton wins, I feel very uncomfortable that he got this close. I think the world will go on either way, but Brexit and the US election make it very clear that we have some soul searching to do.

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