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They need a story

In The Undoing Project, Michael Lewis explores life and work of psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky. Their scientific contributions to understanding the human mind and its biases have transformed our world and earned a Nobel prize.

As Daniel and Amos had started to uncover fallibility of human decision making, they tried an approach called decision analysis. As an experiment, instead of giving a report to Israeli army in a form of an essay that could be misinterpreted depending on how it was written, they would write down possible outcomes and a percentage number next to each outcome. That number was the best estimate of the odds.

Apparently the director-general didn’t want to rely on the best estimates. He preferred his own internal probability calculator: his gut. “That was the moment I gave up on decision analysis,” said Danny. “No one ever made a decision because of a number. They need a story.”

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