Annie Duke: How Uncertainty Leads to Stress and How We Can Cope – Crazy Wisdom

Key Takeaways

  • The role of randomness in life is really hard for us to accept, especially on the success side
    • It’s MUCH easier to accept randomness when things don’t go our way
  • The way we process the world is driven by our belief structure as opposed to our belief structure being formed by how we process the world
  • Learning is like a competition between the present and future versions of you
    • When we’re confronted with the possibility that we’re wrong, we do all sorts of cognitive gymnastics to try to hold on to our belief
      • But this is a problem – in order to grow as a person, (and become smarter/more knowledgeable), you’ll HAVE to eventually discover that there are things you’re not right about in the present moment
  • Humans view ideas that are different from their own as a threat
  • One of the downsides of technology is all the information we’re exposed to. At a certain point, it doesn’t really add value – it just adds confidence.
    • Because of this – The more strongly we hold a belief, the less we’ll be open to new information
  • If two people who are very well informed hold opposite and equally extreme views, the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle
  • Redefine what does/doesn’t cause you pain in terms of things that contradict your own beliefs

Books Mentioned

Intro

Annie’s Book – Thinking in Bets

  • The fundamental question the book explores – How can learn in a system where it’s not clear why something happens?
  • Stewart has been reading Creativity Inc. and Loonshots, both of which talk about how randomness exists, but because of its nature, it’s very difficult to work with
  • “Humans go through life with the idea that we have control over how things turn out. The idea that things are random is really hard for us to accept, especially on the success side.”
    • It’s MUCH easier to accept randomness when things don’t go our way
      • “Who wants to say, ‘I got into Harvard on sheer luck'”
    • “We have this illusion of control, that we’re masters of our own destinies, particularly when those destinies lead us to a good place”
  • Annie brings up a good point:
    • We as humans don’t really treat the information we hear from someone else that much different from information we see ourselves
      • Our default is just to believe what we hear, just like we believe what we see (Daniel Gilbert talks more about this in his book – Stumbling on Happiness)

Human Nature

  • Because of human language, the boundary of the knowledge that we can acquire is somewhat limitless
    • We can experience things beyond our own senses, get exposed to all manner of opinion, and gather all sorts of information
  • The human mind is biased towards tribalism (being cohesive/belonging to a tribe and believing what the tribe preaches)
  • The way we process the world is driven by our belief structure as opposed to our belief structure being formed by how we process the world
    • So when we get into groups – we’re not really exposed to a variety of opinions as you would think. We just put our opinions on steroids to help reinforce our own beliefs.

How Humans Respond to Opposing Ideas

  • Humans HATE the idea of knowledge floating around their head that they’re uncertain about
  • “In the moment when you’re confronted with the possibility that you’re wrong, it’s so painful that you do all sorts of cognitive gymnastics to try to hold on to your beliefs”
    • But this is a problem – in order to grow as a person, (and become smarter/more knowledgeable), you’ll have to eventually discover that there are things you’re not right about
    • For this reason – A lot of what happens with learning is like a competition between the present and future versions of you
  • Humans view ideas that are different from their own as a threat
    • This is the modern version of a lurking tiger in the bush, threatening to pounce
    • The very fabric of our identity is woven out of our beliefs, so when you pull at one of those threads our identity is threatened
    • “If you want to see how attacked people feel by ideas that are different than their own, just spend 2 seconds on Twitter”

Technology

  • With technology, you have access to the world’s experts in whatever subject you’re exploring with just a few clicks
    • This is clearly a HUGE positive
    • In the past, before the internet, it was very hard to confirm/deny the opinions experts – by default, we had to believe what we were told
      • With the internet, this is no longer the case
  • But the downsides…
    • More information, at a certain point, doesn’t really add value – it just adds confidence
      • Once you’re overconfident in your beliefs, the way you process new information is far more distorted than if you were holding that belief much more loosely
        • “The more strongly we hold a belief, the less we’ll be open to new information”
        • Because of this-  “If two people who are very well informed hold opposite and equally extreme views, the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle”
    • It’s easier than ever to only search out information and talk to people who agree with you
      • Thus, people tend to stay in their bubbles
    • It’s harder than ever to discern who’s an expert as well as what’s opinion/what’s fact

The 3 Categories of What We Don’t Know

  • Things we think we know that aren’t quite correct
    • Like the previously held belief that the sun revolves around the Earth
    • Or the belief that eating low-fat >avoiding sugar
  • Things we don’t know and we’re aware of it
  • Things we don’t know we don’t know

Resources to Aid Your Thinking

Wrapping Up

  • Redefine what causes you pain and what doesn’t in terms of things that contradict your own beliefs
  • Let people know that if they think you say something factually incorrect, NOT telling you is the thing that does you harm 
    • Create a culture like this with your friends/people you work with
  • “Why are we teaching kids the quadratic equation before we’re teaching them how to make a decision?”

These notes were edited by RoRoPa Editing Services

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