In his latest presentation, N N Taleb discusses the link between misinformation and fooled by randomness. Here’s an excerpt from the presentation:
Taleb: I’m gonna talk about disinformation and the link to fooled by randomness. It’s the same mechanism that makes you the victim of… the illusion of knowledge you get in financial markets, or in economics, or for some classes of random variables, and this information whether it’s about Covid, or about the Russia war.
Basically ‘nitpicking’ is a method used by people… information in by moving you into the detail and making you think that the detail is representative of the whole.
So what’s the problem there?
Okay the problem is you take something called a ‘detail’, say an anecdote, single random event, and by emphasizing it, making you think that that detail represents the ensemble. It does not, and we are much more vulnerable to details, the salient details. Something psychologists like Danny Kahneman called the representativeness heuristic.
So we are going to be likely to be fooled by the details as Stalin said, “the death of a child is a tragedy, the death of a million is a statistic.” We’re much more fooled by the salient, what hits you emotionally, by images, by anecdotes, by information.
You can watch the full presentation here:
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