Thursday, April 28, 2011

On being wrong

When forecasting, no one is ever exactly right. Instead, there are varying degrees and flavors of being wrong. Nobody likes to be wrong.

Kathryn Schulz has a great talk online titled "On being wrong" (linked below). At one point she asks a question of a few people in the front row:

"So let me ask you guys something ... How does it feel -- emotionally -- how does it feel to be wrong? [Audience responds] Dreadful. Thumbs down. Embarrassing.... thank you, these are great answers, but they're answers to a different question. You guys are answering the question: How does it feel to realize you're wrong? [Audience laughter] Realizing you're wrong can feel like all of that and a lot of other things, right? I mean it can be devastating, it can be revelatory, it can actually be quite funny.... But just being wrong doesn't feel like anything."

Forecasting requires a certain form of mental training that involves a strong sense of self awareness. Are you fooling yourself about what you think might happen? Is your intuition helping or hurting you? Are you justified in being self-confident? Or does it all come crashing down when you're surprised by the outcome?

Ultimately, one learns to make no-regrets decisions based on evidence and a dash of gut-feeling. It is a skill that I feel would help most people navigate through uncertainty in their daily lives. I'm hoping to explore this more over the coming year. Enjoy the video!

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