January 08, 2011

Although overconfidence may often continue to help us just as evolution intended--in relevant contexts and settings--it has a powerful and pervasive evolutionary legacy that continues to dominate our judgment and decision-making, even in complex political, social, or technological settings when such overconfidence is far less likely or able to bring any advantages and simply increases the chance of disaster. […]

But overconfidence is an increasingly dangerous strategy today. The modern world is very different from the one in which we evolved, and to which our decision making and behaviors adapted via natural selection. The big decisions of today are dependent on multiple and complex interacting bureaucracies and stakeholders, in which accurate assessments and painstaking planning may be boring but are critical to success--an evolutionary novelty we are not "designed" for.

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