More Information Leads to Worse Decisions

The illusion of knowledge

This was the case with the EF, the weather information from Applied Weather Technology’s BVS redundant packaged in more convenient form.

From the linked article:

One is that it encourages overconfidence, thereby emboldening people to do things they wouldn’t otherwise do, or to place bigger bets than they otherwise would. They fail to see that even good knowledge still leaves a lot of unavoidable uncertainty about the future.

A second is that information distracts people from using simple but effective rules of thumb of the sortdescribed (pdf) by Gerd Gigerenzer (pdf).

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Interesting post, but he doesn’t differentiate between >tactical< decision making (the kind mariners often have to make: how do we avoid the hurricane, how do we prevent a collision, etc) and >strategic< decision making (things like should we go to war over this, or what kind/size of ship to order next).
In tactical decision making, time is often of the essence and the information is often limited, making “rule of thumb” decisions often more appropriate than trying to over-analyze the limited info - and not reacting quickly enough to new information. (which is what the Gerd Gigerenzer articles seem to be saying - I’m not sure because the level those articles are written at makes them a bit Greek to me :slight_smile:

Yes, it’s not that easy reading, I don’t understand it all.

I don’t think the tactical/strategic distinction matters. Simple rules of thumb are hard to beat in either case.

For sure it works in tactical decision making (at least in reality-oriented situations) - but when things like politics are involved, the “rule of thumb” approach can have hazards - or require “rules of thumb” that are so offensive to logical thinking they are hard to apply :slight_smile:

Kennebec_Captain, eh? Here’s a shot for you :smile:

The Pottery Barn rule, wrt Iraq.

Bounded rationality applies regardless if you’re in the wheelhouse at night approaching a TC or planning an invasion.

Not to say rules of thumb can’t be wrong or don’t apply. This is same argument I was making in the thread Why the gcaptain forum sometimes gets it wrong.

The rule of thumb being that the cause of a serious incident involving a big tanker is going to be an unforeseen chain of events that will only resolve with an investigation. The additional information about the old steamship route shouldn’t have been enough to abandon the rule.

It is too troublesome & boring to read all of Clausewitz’s classic, “On War” but it’s worth reading the cliff notes, Wikipedia summary, etc. It’s nearly 200 years old but he hit the nail on the head concerning decision making. Many people who study decision making have concluded “intelligent intuition” is maybe the best form of intelligence & decision making when unknown variables are involved. I have ran across a lot of amazing captains & engineers guessers over the years & all of them have chalked their success up to experience & luck.