By Duncan J. Watts
Why is the Mona Lisa the main well-known portray on the planet? Why did fb prevail while different social networking websites failed? Did the surge in Iraq quite bring about much less violence? How a lot can CEO’s impression the functionality in their businesses? And does better pay incentivize humans to paintings hard?
If you think that the solutions to those questions are an issue of good judgment, re-evaluate. As sociologist and community technological know-how pioneer Duncan Watts explains during this provocative publication, the reasons that we supply for the results that we discover in life—explanation that appear seen after we recognize the answer—are much less invaluable than they seem.
Drawing at the most recent clinical examine, in addition to a wealth of old and modern examples, Watts indicates how good judgment reasoning and heritage conspire to deceive us into believing that we comprehend extra concerning the global of human habit than we do; and in flip, why makes an attempt to foretell, deal with, or manage social and fiscal platforms so usually pass awry.
It turns out seen, for instance, that individuals reply to incentives; but coverage makers and bosses alike often fail to count on how humans will reply to the incentives they bring. Social developments usually appear to have been pushed by way of yes influential humans; but dealers were not able to spot those “influencers” prematurely. And even supposing winning items or businesses consistently look looking back to have succeeded due to their designated characteristics, predicting the features of the following hit product or scorching corporation is notoriously tricky even for skilled professionals.
Only by means of knowing how and whilst logic fails, Watts argues, will we increase how we plan for the long run, in addition to comprehend the present—an argument that has very important implications in politics, company, and advertising and marketing, in addition to in technological know-how and way of life.
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Extra info for Everything Is Obvious: How Common Sense Fails Us
The basic problem here is that whenever people get together in groups— whether at social events, workplaces, volunteer organizations, markets, political par ties, or even as entire societies— they interact with one an other, sharing information, spreading rumors, passing along recommendations, comparing themselves to their friends, re warding and punishing each other’s behaviors, learning from the experience of others, and generally influencing one an other’s perspectives about what is good and bad, cheap and expensive, right and wrong.
Regardless of what I end up choosing— the money, the ice cream, the walk followed by the ice cream, or some other alternative— I am always doing what is “best” for me, given the preferences I have at the time I make the decision. W hat is so appealing about this way of thinking is its im plication that all human behavior can be understood in terms of individuals’ attempts to satisfy their preferences. I watch TV shows because I enjoy the experience enough to devote the time to them rather than doing something else.
Once you understand the incentives that real estate agents face, in other words, their true preferences, and hence their actions, become instantly clear. Likewise, it might at first surprise you to learn that par ents at an Israeli day school, when fined for picking up their children late, actually arrived late more often than they did 36 I E V E R Y T H I N G IS O B V I O U S before any fine was imposed. But once you understand that the fine assuaged the pangs of guilt they were feeling at in conveniencing the school staff— essentially, they felt they were paying for the right to be late— it makes perfect sense.