Review of Chapter 4 of “Thinking in Bets” by Annie Duke
Thus far, we have seen how motivated reasoning impairs our ability to make good decisions (Chapter 2) and how self-serving bias impedes our ability to accurately assess the outcomes of our decisions (Chapter 3). The solution? Just transform your decisions into bets or wagers. Why is this such an ingenious solution? Because a bet doesn’t make motivated reasoning or self-serving bias go away; it makes these mental quirks work to your advantage! After all, when you make a bet, you want to win the bet, or as Annie Duke herself eloquently explains in Chapter 4 of her beautiful book (p. 136), “Evidence that might contradict a belief we hold is no longer viewed as hurtful a frame. Rather, it is view as helpful because it can improve our chances of making a better bet.”
Okay, but recasting a decision into a bet is easier said than done. How are we supposed to go about doing this? Chapter 4 of “Thinking in Bets” shows us how. In brief, in order to convert your day-to-day decisions into bets, you are going to need a bookie or bookmaker, i.e. someone who is willing to take your bets. So why not create your own “betting syndicate”? In other words, why not join a group of trusted intellectual friends who are willing to take each other’s bets?
Wait up! Do you actually know any open-minded and quirky friends who might be willing to take your bets? (And are you yourself willing to lay odds on the personal wagers of your friends?) If not, you may have to make some new intellectual friends! But where could you possibly find such a crazy group of wagering co-conspirators? Building on the work of the venerable Robert Merton, a great 20th-Century scholar whose ideas are still held in high esteem among most intellectual circles, Annie Duke will identify the essential features of a good betting syndicate as well as the essential personal qualities of a potential betting partner. We will turn to the legendary Robert Merton’s guide to intellectual life in my next post …