Annie Duke on How to Decide, Part 6

In her book, How to Decide: Simple Tools for Making Better Choices, Annie Duke discusses how to train our brains to combat our own bias and help ourselves make more confident and better decisions.

These are some of my favorite concepts and takeaways from reading the book.

Chapter 6, “Turning Decision Outside In”

In this chapter, Annie Duke discusses how difficult it can be to see our decision-making blind spots and what technique we can take to mitigate the risks. She offers the following recommendations:

  • The inside view is the world’s view through our perspective, our beliefs, combined with our experience. Many common cognitive biases are, in part, the product of our inside view.
  • Our inside view can create a bottleneck to good decision-making. It does not matter how good our decision-making process is. If we feed that process with junk information, the resulting decisions will not be high quality either.
  • The outside view is what others would see in our situation, or it can be what is true of the world in general. Exploring the outside view is vital for our decision-making even when we feel we have a firm grasp of the decision’s facts or truth.
  • The outside view serves not only to improve the data set we can use for decision-making but also counter the negative influence of our internal biases and inaccuracies.
  • The accuracy of our decisions lies somewhere at the intersection between the inside view and the outside view. This is important to keep in mind because our beliefs are in the driver’s seat when it comes to reasoning about the world.
  • Motivated reasoning is a trap we often fall into when making decisions. It is human nature to want to process information to conclude we want to see rather than do the hard work to discover the truth.
  • To mitigate the negative effect of motivated reasoning, the outside view is a countermeasure. One way to discover the outside view for our situation is to look for any base rates that might apply to our situation.
  • Perspective tracking is another tool for addressing the paradox of experience. When things go badly, instead of turning to the inside view and blame the failure on luck, look for an outside perspective for skill or execution deficiencies. When things go well, instead of turning to the inside view again for overselling the skill and underselling the luck, look to the outside view for a more objective assessment.