Okay, I admit, this quote isn't about me at all.

“Tom W. is of high intelligence, although lacking in true creativity. He has a need for order and clarity, and for neat and tidy systems in which every detail finds its appropriate place. His writing is rather dull and mechanical, occasionally enlivened by somewhat corny puns and by flashes of imagination of the sci-fi type. He has a strong drive for competence. He seems to have little feel and little sympathy for other people and does not enjoy interacting with others. Self-centered, he nonetheless has a deep moral sense.”

It was taken from a 1973 paper On The Psychology of Prediction by Kahneman and Tversky. The description is specifically fabricated to represent a computing student. The study showed that intuitive predictions are based on what's representative, rather than on what's most likey.

“More than 95% of those respondents judged that Tom W. is more likely to study computer science than humanities or education, although they were surely aware of the fact that there are many more graduate students in the latter field.”

Basically, people are crap at statistical prediction.

Kahneman went on to receive a Nobel prize for his work on people's poor decision making. His 2003 paper on the subject is packed full of fascinating and often terrifying examples of how irrational we all are.


blog comments powered by Disqus