Thursday 1 October 2020

The illusion of confidence - test your own overconfidence bias!

As humans, we are prone to unconsious bias, which can severely affect the way we work with knowledge. Follow the link in this post to see how biased YOU are!

Image from book review
"Thinking fast and slow"

Cognitive biases can seriously affect the way we work with knowledge. I have described three of them in this blog - 
The last two combine in a very powerful way. People who don't know very much can seriously overestimate their confidence in what they do know (this is known as the Dunning Kruger effect - incompetence shields our self-knowledge of incompetence). They then give their opinions very confidently, despite those opinions being based on very little knowledge. And because they speak confidently, others believe them. 

Result, disaster, especially in Knowledge Management terms. The greater the level of overconfidence, the greater the cost of the mistakes that follow.

Many of us think "I am not biased - I am completely confident that I am not overconfident, nor do I overestimate my knowledge or memory".  But you are wrong to say this. All humans are flawed. 

If you don't believe me - take this free test!

The test requires you to estimate ranges for ten numbers (the height of this, the age of that etc), and to put the ranges so that you are 90% confident the real answer lies within the range.

If you are not biased, then 9 out of 10 of the answers will lie within the ranges you gave. Any fewer than 9 out of 10 suggests an overconfidence bias.

I scored 5 out of 10. I am overconfident. I am a flawed human! How did you do?

The lesson is, just because someone gives you a confident answer, does not mean it is right. All people are overconfident, and overconfidence combined with an illusion of knowledge can result in big and expensive mistakes.

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