Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Our Drive to Seek Experts

“When most people are faced with making important decisions in the face of ... uncertainty, their gut reaction is to consult with experts ... even though [they] know that it’s impossible to foresee what the future will bring.” – Curtis M. Faith in Inside the Mind of the Turtles: How the World’s Best Traders Master Risk.

Television shows are filled with experts predicting whether stocks, interest rates, and currencies will go up or down. The truth is that these people are just guessing. The odds may favour a given stock going up instead of down, but either outcome is possible.

If we are betting on the outcome of a coin toss, no amount of consulting experts will allow you to determine whether it will come up heads or tails. However, for some reason we tend to seek and listen to experts who express opinions confidently about outcomes that, in reality, could go either way.

A related human quirk is the tendency to seek the perfect course of action in the face of uncertainty. Committees are often paralyzed trying to make the perfect choice when it isn’t possible to know which choice is the best. According to Curtis Faith, “the proper course is often obvious only in retrospect.” It is often best to go ahead with two or more options on a small scale and choose the best option later.

Fear of making the wrong choice leads us to let others makes choices for us. Seeking different viewpoints is sensible enough, but in the end, the ultimate decisions are our own. If your savings are lost due to poor investment choices, it is little comfort to be able to blame it on someone else.

1 comment:

  1. But nothing is my fault in life, it's always somebody else's fault, isn't that the mantra of our generation?

    C'est pas ma faute!!!!