- Hardcover: 288 pages
- Publisher: Portfolio (25 June 2018)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780735216358
- ISBN-13: 978-0735216358
- ASIN: 0735216355
- Product Dimensions: 14.5 x 2.4 x 21.6 cm
- Average Customer Review: 13 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #7,878 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don't Have All the Facts Hardcover – 25 Jun 2018
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"A big favorite among investors these days." --The New York Times
"A compact guide to probabilistic domains like poker, or venture capital... Recommend for people operating in the real world." --Marc Andreessen
"Duke’s discussion is full of wisdom and also of fun, warmth, humor and humanity. Her sharp, data-driven analysis comes with a large lesson, which is that losers should be willing to forgive themselves: Sometimes the right play just doesn’t work." --Cass Sunstein, co-author of Nudge
"An elegant fusion of poker-table street-smarts and cognitive science insights. This book will make you both a shrewder and wiser player in the game of life." -- Philip E. Tetlock, author of Superforecasting
"Thinking in Bets offers a compelling, and eminently useful, new way to think about life's decisions. Annie Duke has written an important, and often hilarious, book that will help you understand your own shortcomings--and make smarter choices as a result. You can bet on it." --Maria Konnikova, author of The Confidence Game and Mastermind
"The insights Duke offers in this book are incredibly helpful when we contemplate decisions in the face of multiple possible outcomes, and that renders her book enormously applicable to the world of investing." - Howard Marks, co-chairman, Oaktree Capital Management and author of The Most Important Thing
"Through wonderful storytelling and sly wit, Annie Duke has crafted the ultimate guide to thinking about risk. We can all learn how to make better decisions by learning from someone who made choices for a living, with millions on the line." -- Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit and Smarter Faster Better
"Brilliant. Buy ten copies and give one to everyone you work with. It's that good." --Seth Godin, author of The Icarus Deception
"A mind-bending and indispensable book for entrepreneurs, leaders, and anyone who faces risk on a regular basis." -Olivia Fox Cabane, author of The Net and the Butterfly
“A highly-readable balance between memorable, real-world analogies and hardcore behavioral science studies... The book is packed with insights.” - John Greathouse, Forbes
About the Author
Annie Duke is a World Series of Poker bracelet winner, the winner of the 2004 Tournament of Champions and the only woman to win the NBC National Poker Heads Up Championship. Now, as a professional speaker and decision strategist, she merges her poker expertise with her cognitive psychology graduate work at UPenn. She is a founder of How I Decide, a non-profit that creates curricula and tools to improve decision making and critical thinking skills for under-served middle schoolers.See all Product description
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a) Usually we associate the outcome of the decision, to the quality of the decision made. This is wrong. Because luck too plays a factor. It could be a bad decision, but because of luck, you come out a winner, and so we associate those decision / underlying thought for the decision as good, and repeat it in future. This could get us in trouble in future. And vice versa.
b) Short Sightedness. Example - A day, made up of 10 experiences goes as under: First 8 experience good, and last 2 experience is bad. We then tend to rate the ENTIRE day as bad. If it was the other day around - the first 8 experience are bad, and the later 2 are good, we will rate the day as good ! In other words, our overall feeling is made up of what happened towards the end of the journey! We need to overcome this short sight bias and look holistically.
Having said the above, if this is your first decision making book - I will advice to read - 'Decisive' by Chip and Dan Heath. And then this and 'The Art of Thinking Clearly'. This book is excellent once you have the basics through other books in place, a kind of a higher level thoughts in decision making.
What a bet really is?
A bet a decision about an uncertain future. Thinking in bets starts with recognizing that there are exactly two things that determine how our lives turn out:
the quality of our decisions
Learning to recognize the difference between the two is what thinking in bets is all about.
What’s your best and worst decision?
Take a moment to imagine your best decision in the last year. Now take a moment to imagine your worst decision. Chances are you will equate the outcome of the decision to the quality of the decision. This is because we’re susceptible to “resulting” and hindsight bias.
We must disassociate outcome with decision. A great decision is the result of a good process and that process must represent an accurate picture of our state of knowledge.
Resulting: tendency to equate the quality of a decision with the quality of its outcome
Hindsight bias: tendency, after an outcome is known, to see the outcome as having been inevitable.
When we work backward from results to figure out why those things happened, we are susceptible to a variety of cognitive traps, like assuming causation when there is only a correlation, or cherry- picking data to confirm the narrative we prefer. We will pound a lot of square pegs into round holes to maintain the illusion of a tight relationship between our outcomes and our decisions.
We’re susceptible to these mental traps because our brains are not built for rationality. Our brains work basically in two modes. Daniel Kahneman popularized the labels of “System 1” and “System 2”.
System 1: encompasses reflex, instinct, intuition, impulse and automatic processing.
System 2: is how we choose, concentrate and expend mental energy.
Both systems are necessary for survival. Mistakes happen when System 1 overtakes System 2 in decision-making.
Since most of what we do daily exists in automatic processing. We are used to thinking in System 1 mode. The challenge is to figure out how to make decisions within the limitations we already have.
Embrace uncertainty and Redefine wrong:
Embracing “I’m not sure” is difficult. We are trained in school that saying “I don’t know” is a bad thing. Not knowing in school is considered a failure of learning.
Of course, we want to encourage acquiring knowledge, but the first step is understanding what we don’t know. “I don’t know” is not a failure but a necessary step toward enlightenment.
There are many reasons why wrapping our arms around uncertainty and giving it a big hug will help us become better decision- makers. Here are two of them. First, “I’m not sure” is simply a more accurate representation of the world. Second, and related, when we accept that we can’t be sure, we are less likely to fall into the trap of black- and- white thinking.
Decisions are bets on the future, and they aren’t “right” or “wrong” based on whether they turn out well on any particular iteration. An unwanted result doesn’t make our decision wrong if we thought about the alternatives and probabilities in advance and allocated our resources.
Redefining wrong allows us to let go of all the anguish that comes from getting a bad result. First, the world is a pretty random place. The influence of luck makes it impossible to predict exactly how things will turn out, and all the hidden information makes it even worse. Second, being wrong hurts us more than being right feels good.
All decisions are bets:
All our decisions are always bets. We routinely decide among alternatives, put resources at risk, assess the likelihood of different outcomes, and consider what it is that we value.
The betting elements of decisions— choice, probability, risk, etc.— are more obvious in some situations than others. Investments are clearly bets. A decision about a stock (buy, don’t buy, sell, hold, not to mention esoteric investment options) involves a choice about the best use of financial resources. Incomplete information and factors outside of our control make all our investment choices uncertain
Most bets are bets against ourselves:
In most of our decisions, we are not betting against another person. Rather, we are betting against all the future versions of ourselves that we are not choosing.
Whenever we make a choice, we are betting on a potential future.
Our bets are only as good as our beliefs:
Our bets are only as good as our beliefs. our default setting is to believe what we hear is true.
We might think of ourselves as open- minded and capable of updating our beliefs based on new information, but the research conclusively shows otherwise. Instead of altering our beliefs to fit new information, we do the opposite, altering our interpretation of that information to fit our beliefs. Our pre- existing beliefs influence the way we experience the world. This irrational, circular information- processing pattern is called motivated reasoning. The way we process new information is driven by the beliefs we hold, strengthening them. Those strengthened beliefs then drive how we process further information, and so on.
Being smart makes it worse:
Being smart makes it worse the smarter you are, the better you are at constructing a narrative that supports your beliefs, rationalizing and framing the data to fit your argument or point of view. we all have a blind spot about recognizing our biases. The surprise is that blind- spot bias is greater the smarter you are.
Offering a wager is the best way to fight these mental traps and brings the risk out in the open, making explicit what is already implicit. We can train ourselves to view the world through the lens of “Wanna bet?”
Once we start doing that, we are more likely to recognize that there is always a degree of uncertainty, that we are generally less sure than we thought we were, that practically nothing is black and white, 0% or 100%. We don’t need someone challenging us to an actual bet to do this. We can think like a bettor, purposefully and on our own, like it’s a game even if we’re just doing it ourselves.
Instead of thinking of confidence as all- or- nothing (“ I’m confident” or “I’m not confident”), our expression of our confidence would then capture all the shades of grey in between. Incorporating uncertainty into the way we think about our beliefs comes with many benefits.
CUDOS stands for
Communism (data belong to the group)
Universalism (apply uniform standards to claims and evidence, regardless of where they came from)
Disinterestedness (vigilance against potential conflicts that can influence the group’s evaluation)
Organized Skepticism (discussion among the group to encourage engagement and dissent)
Techniques to become a better bets:
Techniques like Suzy Welch’s 10-10-10, temporal discounting problem, pre-commitment, pre-mortem can help us make better bets on our futures.
Our irrational, impulsive & instant gratification tendency are because we favor our present-self at the expense of our future-self. This is called “temporal discounting”. Thinking about the future and recognizing when we commit temporal discounting and helps us maintain the right frame of mind.
Suzy Welch’s 10-10-10 has the effect of bringing the future-us into more of our in the moment decisions. Before taking a bet/decisions visualize how it will affect us in the next 10 minutes, 10 months and 10 years.
Tilt is a poker term when a player is not in a mental or emotional state to choose optimal strategy.
whenever you feel you are experiencing “tilt”, pre-commit to walk away from the situation.
Backcasting is a useful time-travel exercise where we imagine a successful future and identify necessary steps for reaching our goals. Working backward helps even more when we give ourselves the freedom to imagine an unfavorable future. It also makes it possible to identify when there are low-probability events that must occur to reach the goal
Premortems: working backward from a negative future. It’s an investigation into something awful, but before it happens. Asking “Okay, we failed. Why did we fail?” frees everyone to identify potential points of failure without the for fear of being viewed as a naysayer. Despite the popular wisdom that we achieve success through positive visualization, it turns out that incorporating negative visualization makes us more likely to achieve our goals.
We are going to do better, and be happier, if we start by recognizing that we’ll never be sure of the future.
Although the book becomes repetitive places, this is easily one of the best books have read on decision making and cognitive psycology. If you are planning to read only one book for the year, I recommend you pick this up.
In case if you are looking for super-short and concise book summary of the same, you can check out my twitter thread.
Overall not worth spending time and money.
This book draws a stark similarity between life and poker. For ones who don't know to play poker (like me), the book can be a drag sometimes. But you can anyway get to the main point of the author in those examples.
You are much better off reading Daniel Kahneman's book Thinking, Fast And Slow