Book notes: Thinking in Bets

Just finished up Annie Duke’s Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don’t Have All the Facts.

Overall, Thinking in Bets is a pretty middle of the road business book. It’s good for lots of tactical details around “thinking in bets” and avoiding inherent biases. It doesn’t have an overly compelling narrative.

Some of its more salient points include:

  • “Resulting” is judging a decision based on its results (which are probabilistic) instead of the thinking and process leading to the decision. A good decision can always have a bad outcome because no decision is ever 100% predictable.
  • Transforming “I know” into “I think with N% certainty” creates space for evaluating what you think you know that led to your current conclusion. It also creates space for others to critically examine the facts leading to your conclusion without you being “wrong”.
  • Sugar industry funded research that eventually triggered low-fat food products. Took decades of real-world impact to realize the flaws. See Snackwell opinions from Michael Pollan.
  • Separate the message from the messenger to avoid bias based on perception of messenger. For instance, liberals could learn a lot from conservatives this way. Tactically, practice this by removing the name from the statement and evaluate more objectively.
  • Remembering the future is the best way to plan for it. From the vantage point of the present, it’s hard to see beyond the next step. We end up over planning for addressing problems we have right now. When we work backward from the goal, we plan the decision tree in greater depth.

Overall, Thinking in Bets provides useful reference material for “thinking in bets.” Which is the title of the book. Which you don’t really understand the meaning of unless you’re a poker player or read the book.

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