It's a Noisy World Out There

Linda Rising | GOTO Chicago 2023

Transcript

Most of us know how cognitive biases affect our decision making, thanks to the work of Daniel Kahneman and his important book Thinking Fast and Slow. Fewer of us know how noise affects our thinking. Noise here means the variability in inputs and cognitive processing we contend with when making individual and collective judgments. Noise comes from a variety of sources. We are affected by the time of day, the weather, if our favorite sports team just won or lost.

One study found that judges in Louisiana gave harsher sentences to kids, especially black kids, in the week after the LSU college football team lost a game. Everyone is now focused on reducing bias, but in many cases, noise is a greater source of error than bias. Linda will introduce you to some surprising research about noise and decision making and offer suggestions for reducing noise.
Note: if you reduce noise, you will also reduce bias. As Kahneman has said, "Wherever there is judgment, there is noise and more of it than you think."

About the speakers

Linda Rising
Linda Rising

Queen of patterns; author of numerous books