The King of Human Error

In making judgments, people tend to use the “availability heuristic.” As Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky have shown, people often assess the probability of an event by asking whether relevant examples are cognitively “available” [i.e., can be easily remembered]. Thus [because they more readily recall words ending in “ing” than other words with penultimate “n”s, such as “bond” or “mane”], people are likely to think that more words, on a random page, end with the letters “ing” than have “n” as their next to last letter—even though a moment’s reflection will show that this could not possibly be the case. Now, it is not exactly dumb to use the availability heuristic. Sometimes it is the best guide that we possess. Yet reliable statistical evidence will outperform the availability heuristic every time. Sent from Mobile

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