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Can you learn to navigate uncertainty?

The Self-Perception of Experts

The Self-Perception of Experts

New research on the accuracy of future predictions by people has some interesting findings:

  • Experts, largely considered an authority, fared poorly than the novices, due to their overestimating their abilities, something known as the Dunning Kruger Effect.
  • People who considered themselves more experienced or educated turned out to be closed-minded and more unlikely to learn from others, leading to a myopic or distorted view of the world around them.

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Can you learn to navigate uncertainty?

Can you learn to navigate uncertainty?

https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200619-why-you-are-better-at-predicting-the-future-than-you-think

bbc.com

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Key Ideas

The Self-Perception of Experts

New research on the accuracy of future predictions by people has some interesting findings:

  • Experts, largely considered an authority, fared poorly than the novices, due to their overestimating their abilities, something known as the Dunning Kruger Effect.
  • People who considered themselves more experienced or educated turned out to be closed-minded and more unlikely to learn from others, leading to a myopic or distorted view of the world around them.

Facing Change: Millennials Vs Boomers

Past experience, which many experts think helps them to better understand the world, surprisingly does not improve the ability to predict the future. The research data showed accuracy levels of the younger generation (25 to 35 years of age) being the highest.

Old people are slower to comprehend change, faster to believe and share fake news and less likely to be objective.

Humility

Working with an open mind, ready to dive into unfamiliar territory and learning new things, makes the entire exercise stress-free and rewarding experience. This state of mind, along with basic humility makes for better performance. One’s arrogance, ego and past can negatively affect the prediction quality.

A humble attitude also makes people listen to others opinions and share their own unique insights, helping collaboration and constructive teamwork.

Disagreements Are Good

While we talk to people we disagree with, without getting personal, we tend to learn new insights and ways of thinking.

In contrast, if we only expose ourselves to people who think like us and share our worldview, we start living in an echo chamber, away from reality.

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John Green, Looking for Alaska

“Imagining the future is a kind of nostalgia.”

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We use our memories to imagine the future

We predict what the future will look like by using our memories. This is how actions we do repeatedly become routine. For example, you have an ideas of what your day will look like at work tomorrow based on what your day was like today, and all the other days you’ve spent working.

But memory also helps people predict what it will be like to do things they haven’t done before.

Past and future for amnesia patients

An evidence that memory and imagining the future might go hand in hand comes from research related to amnesia patients. Studies show that when they lose their pasts, it seems they lose their futures as well.

Functional MRI scans made possible for researchers to discover that many of the same brain structures are involved in both remembering and forecasting.

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Simulating a crisis
Simulating a crisis

Modeling systems are used to provide a better understanding of a bad situation and how to possibly prevent it.

Groups of researchers, teams of engineers and companies are d...

Why we use models
  • A model is just a series of calculations that abstractly represent some systems in the real world. We use models all the time.
  • We may work out the routes we could take to get to work at a specific time of the day. We use past data to make predictions about what we can expect in the future in a given set of circumstances.
  • As the volume of data and the number of variables increase, the computational task would increase.
  • Powerful models aim to forecast inherently unpredictable events and make use of machine learning to look for patterns in the data that would otherwise be missed.
The accuracy of a model

You can never accurately predict what's going to happen. Some efforts come close.

For example, models looking at the weather can achieve more than 90% accuracy. But crises are about change, and a model working from historical data may miss a dramatic and new change.

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Affective forecasting

It refers to how we predict our future emotions and how certain life events will affect them.

We’re generally pretty bad at it—and that impacts our productivity, our goal setting, and ...

We're bad at predicting our feelings

The main barriers to accurate affective forecasting:

  • Impact Bias: Your tendency to overestimate the intensity and duration of future emotions. 
  • Projection Bias: However you feel in the present, you tend to project that onto the future. 
  • Focalism: When picturing an event in the future, you tend to focus only on that event, to the exclusion of everything else that may happen.

“Our ability to look into the future and think about what will make us most happy is the way that we get to a present that pleases us.”

“Our ability to look into the future and think about what will make us most happy is the way that we get to a present that pleases us.”

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