Noise Daniel Kahneman Quotes

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To understand error in judgment, we must understand both bias and noise.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise)
wherever there is judgment, there is noise—and more of it than you think.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise)
There is at least one source of occasion noise that we have all noticed: mood.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise)
In a negotiation situation, for instance, good mood helps. People in a good mood are more cooperative and elicit reciprocation. They tend to end up with better results than do unhappy negotiators.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment)
Bias and noise—systematic deviation and random scatter—are different components of error.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise)
Causally, noise is nowhere; statistically, it is everywhere.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise)
Life is often more complex than the stories we like to tell about it.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment)
Most organizations prefer consensus and harmony over dissent and conflict. The procedures in place often seem expressly designed to minimize the frequency of exposure to actual disagreements and, when such disagreements happen, to explain them away.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment)
Judgment is not a synonym for thinking, and making accurate judgments is not a synonym for having good judgment.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise)
When Vul and Pashler let three weeks pass before asking their subjects the same question again, the benefit rose to one-third the value of a second opinion.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment)
On the other hand, a good mood makes us more likely to accept our first impressions as true without challenging them.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment)
Judgment can therefore be described as measurement in which the instrument is a human mind.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise)
In terms of noise, psychiatry is an extreme case.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise)
Noise is mostly a by-product of our uniqueness, of our “judgment personality.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment)
When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do?”)
Daniel Kahneman (Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment)
people who make judgments behave as if a true value exists, regardless of whether it does.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment)
it is hard to agree with reality if you cannot agree with yourself.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment)
When physicians are under time pressure, they are apparently more inclined to choose a quick-fix solution, despite its serious downsides.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise)
Scientists in diverse disciplines were quick to adopt the least squares method. Over two centuries later, it remains the standard way to evaluate errors wherever achieving accuracy is the goal.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise)
Averaging two guesses by the same person does not improve judgments as much as does seeking out an independent second opinion. As Vul and Pashler put it, “You can gain about 1/10th as much from asking yourself the same question twice as you can from getting a second opinion from someone else.” This is not a large improvement. But you can make the effect much larger by waiting to make a second guess.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment)
Words that you have seen before become easier to see again—you can identify them better than other words when they are shown very briefly or masked by noise, and you will be quicker (by a few hundredths of a second) to read them than to read other words. In short, you experience greater cognitive ease in perceiving a word you have seen earlier, and it is this sense of ease that gives you the impression of familiarity.
Daniel Kahneman (Thinking, Fast and Slow)
There is good reason to believe that general intelligence is likely to be associated with better judgment. Intelligence is correlated with good performance in virtually all domains. All other things being equal, it is associated not only with higher academic achievement but also with higher job performance.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment)
chance variation in a small number of early movers” can have major effects in tipping large populations
Daniel Kahneman (Noise)
ideas about politics and economics are a lot like movie stars. If people think that other people like them, such ideas can go far.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise)
simple mechanical rules were generally superior to human judgment.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise)
For embezzlement actions that were similar to one another, one man was sentenced to 117 days in prison, while another was sentenced to 20 years.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment)
Variability in judgments is also expected and welcome in a competitive situation in which the best judgments will be rewarded.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment)
The same is true when multiple teams of researchers attack a scientific problem, such as the development of a vaccine: we very much want them to look at it from different angles.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment)
But our focus is on judgments in which variability is undesirable. System noise is a problem of systems, which are organizations, not markets.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment)
Wherever there is judgment, there is noise—and more of it than we think.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment)
A matter of judgment is one with some uncertainty about the answer and where we allow for the possibility that reasonable and competent people might disagree.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment)
So far in this chapter, we have focused on predictive judgment tasks, and most of the judgments we will discuss are of that type.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment)
Sentencing a felon is not a prediction. It is an evaluative judgment that seeks to match the sentence to the severity of the crime.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment)
The reliance on flawed explanations is perhaps inevitable, if the alternative is to give up on understanding our world.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment)
Level noise is variability in the average level of judgments by different judges. Pattern noise is variability in judges’ responses to particular cases.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment)
A study of nearly seven hundred thousand primary care visits, for instance, showed that physicians are significantly more likely to prescribe opioids at the end of a long day.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment)
Other studies showed that, toward the end of the day, physicians are more likely to prescribe antibiotics and less likely to prescribe flu shots.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment)
Bad weather is associated with improved memory; judicial sentences tend to be more severe when it is hot outside; and stock market performance is affected by sunshine.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment)
How large is occasion noise relative to total system noise?
Daniel Kahneman (Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment)
It is very likely that intrinsic variability in the functioning of the brain also affects the quality of our judgments in ways that we cannot possibly hope to control.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment)
How Groups Amplify Noise
Daniel Kahneman (Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment)
From the perspective of noise reduction, a singular decision is a recurrent decision that happens only once.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise)
System noise, that is, unwanted variability in judgments that should ideally be identical, can create rampant injustice, high economic costs, and errors of many kinds.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise)
In areas that involve vague criteria and complex judgments, intrarater reliability, as it is called, can be poor.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise)
In short, doctors are significantly more likely to order cancer screenings early in the morning than late in the afternoon.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise)
It follows that patients with appointment times later in the day were less likely to receive guideline-recommended cancer screening.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise)
the strong conclusion that simple mechanical rules were generally superior to human judgment
Daniel Kahneman (Noise)
Meehl discovered that clinicians and other professionals are distressingly weak in what they often see as their unique strength: the ability to integrate information.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise)
You may believe that you are subtler, more insightful, and more nuanced than the linear caricature of your thinking. But in fact, you are mostly noisier.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise)
System noise is inconsistency, and inconsistency damages the credibility of the system.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise)
Judgments are both less noisy and less biased when those who make them are well trained, are more intelligent, and have the right cognitive style.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise)
Another illustration of the role of fatigue among clinicians is the lower rate of appropriate handwashing during the end of hospital shifts. (Handwashing turns out to be noisy, too.)
Daniel Kahneman (Noise)
People believe they capture complexity and add subtlety when they make judgments. But the complexity and the subtlety are mostly wasted—usually they do not add to the accuracy of simple models.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise)
And here, the effects are not those you might imagine. Being in a good mood is a mixed blessing, and bad moods have a silver lining. The costs and benefits of different moods are situation-specific.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment)
Two men, neither of whom had a criminal record, were convicted for cashing counterfeit checks in the amounts of $58.40 and $35.20, respectively. The first man was sentenced to fifteen years, the second to 30 days.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment)
Some judgments are biased; they are systematically off target. Other judgments are noisy, as people who are expected to agree end up at very different points around the target. Many organizations, unfortunately, are afflicted by both bias and noise.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise)
Every large branch of the company has several qualified underwriters. When a quote is requested, anyone who happens to be available may be assigned to prepare it. In effect, the particular underwriter who will determine a quote is selected by a lottery.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment)
Level noise is when judges show different levels of severity. Pattern noise is when they disagree with one another on which defendants deserve more severe or more lenient treatment. And part of pattern noise is occasion noise—when judges disagree with themselves.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment)
We have defined noise as undesirable variability in judgments of the same problem. Since singular problems are never exactly repeated, this definition does not apply to them. After all, history is only run once. You will never be able to compare Obama’s decision to send
Daniel Kahneman (Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment)
Speaking of Singular Decisions “The way you approach this unusual opportunity exposes you to noise.” “Remember: a singular decision is a recurrent decision that is made only once.” “The personal experiences that made you who you are are not truly relevant to this decision.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise)
You may have noticed that the decomposition of system noise into level noise and pattern noise follows the same logic as the error equation in the previous chapter, which decomposed error into bias and noise. This time, the equation can be written as follows: System Noise2 = Level Noise2 + Pattern Noise2
Daniel Kahneman (Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment)
For the insurance company, the illusion of agreement was shattered only by the noise audit. How had the leaders of the company remained unaware of their noise problem? There are several possible answers here, but one that seems to play a large role in many settings is simply the discomfort of disagreement.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment)
Uri Simonsohn showed that college admissions officers pay more attention to the academic attributes of candidates on cloudier days and are more sensitive to nonacademic attributes on sunnier days. The title of the article in which he reported these findings is memorable enough: “Clouds Make Nerds Look Good.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment)
Groups can go in all sorts of directions, depending in part on factors that should be irrelevant. Who speaks first, who speaks last, who speaks with confidence, who is wearing black, who is seated next to whom, who smiles or frowns or gestures at the right moment—all these factors, and many more, affect outcomes.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment)
Inducing good moods makes people more receptive to bullshit and more gullible in general; they are less apt to detect deception or identify misleading information. Conversely, eyewitnesses who are exposed to misleading information are better able to disregard it—and to avoid false testimony—when they are in a bad mood.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment)
Similarly, fingerprint examiners and physicians sometimes disagree with themselves, but they do so less often than they disagree with others. In every case we reviewed in which the share of occasion noise in total system noise could be measured, occasion noise was a smaller contributor than were differences among individuals.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment)
Matters of judgment differ from matters of opinion or taste, in which unresolved differences are entirely acceptable. The insurance executives who were shocked by the result of the noise audit would have no problem if claims adjusters were sharply divided over the relative merits of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, or of salmon and tuna.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment)
As we noted in chapter 12, our normal way of thinking is causal. We naturally attend to the particular, following and creating causally coherent stories about individual cases, in which failures are often attributed to errors, and errors to biases. The ease with which bad judgments can be explained leaves no space for noise in our accounts of errors.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise)
From the perspective of noise reduction, a singular decision is a recurrent decision that happens only once. Whether you make a decision only once or a hundred times, your goal should be to make it in a way that reduces both bias and noise. And practices that reduce error should be just as effective in your one-of-a-kind decisions as in your repeated ones.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment)
predictive judgments that provide input—for instance, how a candidate will perform in her first year, how the stock market will respond to a given strategic move, or how quickly the epidemic will spread if left unchecked. But the final decisions entail trade-offs between the pros and cons of various options, and these trade-offs are resolved by evaluative judgments.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise)
If an event that was assigned a probability of 90% fails to happen, the judgment of probability was not necessarily a bad one. After all, outcomes that are just 10% likely to happen end up happening 10% of the time. The Gambardi exercise is an example of a nonverifiable predictive judgment, for two separate reasons: Gambardi is fictitious and the answer is probabilistic.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment)
group polarization. The basic idea is that when people speak with one another, they often end up at a more extreme point in line with their original inclinations. If, for example, most people in a seven-person group tend to think that opening a new office in Paris would be a pretty good idea, the group is likely to conclude, after discussion, that opening that office would be a terrific idea.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise)
As you can guess, this is a test of the readers’ vulnerability to stereotypes: do people rate the essay more favorably when it is attributed to a middle-aged man than they do when they believe that a young woman wrote it? They do, of course. But importantly, the difference is larger in the good-mood condition. People who are in a good mood are more likely to let their biases affect their thinking.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment)
The truth is, as Jacoby and many followers have shown, that the name David Stenbill will look familiar when you see it because you will see it more clearly. Words that you have seen before become easier to see again—you can identify them better than other words when they are shown very briefly or masked by noise, and you will be quicker (by a few hundredths of a second) to read them than to read other words. In
Daniel Kahneman (Thinking, Fast and Slow)
However, when the subjects were placed in a positive mood—induced by watching a five-minute video segment—they became three times more likely to say that they would push the man off the bridge. Whether we regard “Thou shalt not kill” as an absolute principle or are willing to kill one stranger to save five should reflect our deepest values. Yet our choice seems to depend on what video clip we have just watched.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment)
The essential feature of this internal signal is that the sense of coherence is part of the experience of judgment. It is not contingent on a real outcome. As a result, the internal signal is just as available for nonverifiable judgments as it is for real, verifiable ones. This explains why making a judgment about a fictitious character like Gambardi feels very much the same as does making a judgment about the real world.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment)
As noted, for instance, the chance that an asylum applicant will be admitted in the United States drops by 19% if the hearing follows two successful ones by the same judge. This variability is certainly troubling. But it pales in comparison with the variability between judges: in one Miami courthouse, Jaya Ramji-Nogales and her co-authors found that one judge would grant asylum to 88% of applicants and another to only 5%.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment)
It might seem odd to emphasize this point, since we noted in the previous chapter that aggregating the judgments of multiple individuals reduces noise. But because of group dynamics, groups can add noise, too. There are “wise crowds,” whose mean judgment is close to the correct answer, but there are also crowds that follow tyrants, that fuel market bubbles, that believe in magic, or that are under the sway of a shared illusion.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment)
An adjuster is assigned to the claim—just as the underwriter was assigned, because she happens to be available. The adjuster gathers the facts of the case and provides an estimate of its ultimate cost to the company. The same adjuster then takes charge of negotiating with the claimant’s representative to ensure that the claimant receives the benefits promised in the policy while also protecting the company from making excessive payments.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment)
When we asked 828 CEOs and senior executives from a variety of industries how much variation they expected to find in similar expert judgments, 10% was also the median answer and the most frequent one (the second most popular was 15%). A 10% difference would mean, for instance, that one of the two underwriters set a premium of $9,500 while the other quoted $10,500. Not a negligible difference, but one that an organization can be expected to tolerate.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment)
But noisy systems do not make multiple judgments of the same case. They make noisy judgments of different cases. If one insurance policy is overpriced and another is underpriced, pricing may on average look right, but the insurance company has made two costly errors. If two felons who both should be sentenced to five years in prison receive sentences of three years and seven years, justice has not, on average, been done. In noisy systems, errors do not cancel out. They add up.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment)
Speaking of Occasion Noise “Judgment is like a free throw: however hard we try to repeat it precisely, it is never exactly identical.” “Your judgment depends on what mood you are in, what cases you have just discussed, and even what the weather is. You are not the same person at all times.” “Although you may not be the same person you were last week, you are less different from the ‘you’ of last week than you are from someone else today. Occasion noise is not the largest source of system noise.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment)
This request required the subjects to think actively of information they had not considered the first time. The instructions to participants read as follows: First, assume that your first estimate is off the mark. Second, think about a few reasons why that could be. Which assumptions and considerations could have been wrong? Third, what do these new considerations imply? Was the first estimate rather too high or too low? Fourth, based on this new perspective, make a second, alternative estimate.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment)
We have contrasted two ways of evaluating a judgment: by comparing it to an outcome and by assessing the quality of the process that led to it. Note that when the judgment is verifiable, the two ways of evaluating it may reach different conclusions in a single case. A skilled and careful forecaster using the best possible tools and techniques will often miss the correct number in making a quarterly inflation forecast. Meanwhile, in a single quarter, a dart-throwing chimpanzee will sometimes be right.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment)
A study of thousands of juvenile court decisions found that when the local football team loses a game on the weekend, the judges make harsher decisions on the Monday (and, to a lesser extent, for the rest of the week). Black defendants disproportionately bear the brunt of that increased harshness. A different study looked at 1.5 million judicial decisions over three decades and similarly found that judges are more severe on days that follow a loss by the local city’s football team than they are on days that follow a win.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment)
Our noise audit found much greater differences. By our measure, the median difference in underwriting was 55%, about five times as large as was expected by most people, including the company’s executives. This result means, for instance, that when one underwriter sets a premium at $9,500, the other does not set it at $10,500—but instead quotes $16,700. For claims adjusters, the median ratio was 43%. We stress that these results are medians: in half the pairs of cases, the difference between the two judgments was even larger.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment)
Many professional judgments are nonverifiable. Barring egregious errors, underwriters will never know, for instance, whether a particular policy was overpriced or underpriced. Other forecasts may be nonverifiable because they are conditional. “If we go to war, we will be crushed” is an important prediction, but it is likely to remain untested (we hope). Or forecasts may be too long term for the professionals who make them to be brought to account—like, for instance, an estimate of mean temperatures by the end of the twenty-first century.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment)
They asked forty-two experienced investors in the firm to estimate the fair value of a stock (the price at which the investors would be indifferent to buying or selling). The investors based their analysis on a one-page description of the business; the data included simplified profit and loss, balance sheet, and cash flow statements for the past three years and projections for the next two. Median noise, measured in the same way as in the insurance company, was 41%. Such large differences among investors in the same firm, using the same valuation methods, cannot be good news.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment)
The experience of familiarity has a simple but powerful quality of ‘pastness’ that seems to indicate that it is a direct reflection of prior experience.” This quality of pastness is an illusion. The truth is, as Jacoby and many followers have shown, that the name David Stenbill will look familiar when you see it because you will see it more clearly. Words that you have seen before become easier to see again—you can identify them better than other words when they are shown very briefly or masked by noise, and you will be quicker (by a few hundredths of a second) to read them than to read other words.
Daniel Kahneman (Thinking, Fast and Slow)
Focusing on the process of judgment, rather than its outcome, makes it possible to evaluate the quality of judgments that are not verifiable, such as judgments about fictitious problems or long-term forecasts. We may not be able to compare them to a known outcome, but we can still tell whether they have been made incorrectly. And when we turn to the question of improving judgments rather than just evaluating them, we will focus on process, too. All the procedures we recommend in this book to reduce bias and noise aim to adopt the judgment process that would minimize error over an ensemble of similar cases.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment)
The exact value of the quote has significant consequences for the company. A high premium is advantageous if the quote is accepted, but such a premium risks losing the business to a competitor. A low premium is more likely to be accepted, but it is less advantageous to the company. For any risk, there is a Goldilocks price that is just right—neither too high nor too low—and there is a good chance that the average judgment of a large group of professionals is not too far from this Goldilocks number. Prices that are higher or lower than this number are costly—this is how the variability of noisy judgments hurts the bottom line.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment)
Herzog and Hertwig then averaged the two estimates thus produced. Their technique, which they named dialectical bootstrapping, produced larger improvements in accuracy than did a simple request for a second estimate immediately following the first. Because the participants forced themselves to consider the question in a new light, they sampled another, more different version of themselves—two “members” of the “crowd within” who were further apart. As a result, their average produced a more accurate estimate of the truth. The gain in accuracy with two immediately consecutive “dialectical” estimates was about half the value of a second opinion.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment)
Most of us, most of the time, live with the unquestioned belief that the world looks as it does because that’s the way it is. There is one small step from this belief to another: “Other people view the world much the way I do.” These beliefs, which have been called naive realism, are essential to the sense of a reality we share with other people. We rarely question these beliefs. We hold a single interpretation of the world around us at any one time, and we normally invest little effort in generating plausible alternatives to it. One interpretation is enough, and we experience it as true. We do not go through life imagining alternative ways of seeing what we see.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment)
They were testing for a particular driver of noise: social influence. The key finding was that group rankings were wildly disparate: across different groups, there was a great deal of noise. In one group, “Best Mistakes” could be a spectacular success, while “I Am Error” could flop. In another group, “I Am Error” could do exceedingly well, and “Best Mistakes” could be a disaster. If a song benefited from early popularity, it could do really well. If it did not get that benefit, the outcome could be very different. To be sure, the very worst songs (as established by the control group) never ended up at the very top, and the very best songs never ended up at the very bottom.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment)
after a streak, or a series of decisions that go in the same direction, they are more likely to decide in the opposite direction than would be strictly justified. As a result, errors (and unfairness) are inevitable. Asylum judges in the United States, for instance, are 19% less likely to grant asylum to an applicant when the previous two cases were approved. A person might be approved for a loan if the previous two applications were denied, but the same person might have been rejected if the previous two applications had been granted. This behavior reflects a cognitive bias known as the gambler’s fallacy: we tend to underestimate the likelihood that streaks will occur by chance.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment)
The early estimate matters because it sets an implicit goal for the adjuster in future negotiations with the claimant. The insurance company is also legally obligated to reserve the predicted cost of each claim (i.e., to have enough cash to be able to pay it). Here again, there is a Goldilocks value from the perspective of the company. A settlement is not guaranteed, as there is an attorney for the claimant on the other side, who may choose to go to court if the offer is miserly. On the other hand, an overly generous reserve may allow the adjuster too much latitude to agree to frivolous demands. The adjuster’s judgment is consequential for the company—and even more consequential for the claimant.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment)
A large literature going back several decades has documented noise in professional judgment. Because we were aware of this literature, the results of the insurance company’s noise audit did not surprise us. What did surprise us, however, was the reaction of the executives to whom we reported our findings: no one at the company had expected anything like the amount of noise we had observed. No one questioned the validity of the audit, and no one claimed that the observed amount of noise was acceptable. Yet the problem of noise—and its large cost—seemed like a new one for the organization. Noise was like a leak in the basement. It was tolerated not because it was thought acceptable but because it had remained unnoticed.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment)
If a weather forecaster said today’s high temperature would be seventy degrees Fahrenheit and it is sixty-five degrees, the forecaster made an error of plus five degrees. Evidently, this approach does not work for nonverifiable judgments like the Gambardi problem, which have no true outcome. How, then, are we to decide what constitutes good judgment? The answer is that there is a second way to evaluate judgments. This approach applies both to verifiable and nonverifiable ones. It consists in evaluating the process of judgment. When we speak of good or bad judgments, we may be speaking either about the output (e.g., the number you produced in the Gambardi case) or about the process—what you did to arrive at that number.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment)
To experience how noise and bias contribute to error, we invite you to play a game that will take you less than one minute. If you have a smartphone with a stopwatch, it probably has a lap function, which enables you to measure consecutive time intervals without stopping the stopwatch or even looking at the display. Your goal is to produce five consecutive laps of exactly ten seconds without looking at the phone. You may want to observe a ten-second interval a few times before you begin. Go. Now look at the lap durations recorded on your phone. (The phone itself was not free from noise, but there was very little of it.) You will see that the laps are not all exactly ten seconds and that they vary over a substantial range. You tried to reproduce the same timing exactly, but you were unable to do so. The variability you could not control is an instance of noise.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment)
Fifty judges from various districts were asked to set sentences for defendants in hypothetical cases summarized in identical pre-sentence reports. The basic finding was that “absence of consensus was the norm” and that the variations across punishments were “astounding.” A heroin dealer could be incarcerated for one to ten years, depending on the judge. Punishments for a bank robber ranged from five to eighteen years in prison. The study found that in an extortion case, sentences varied from a whopping twenty years imprisonment and a $65,000 fine to a mere three years imprisonment and no fine. Most startling of all, in sixteen of twenty cases, there was no unanimity on whether any incarceration was appropriate. This study was followed by a series of others, all of which found similarly shocking levels of noise. In 1977, for example, William Austin and Thomas Williams conducted a survey of forty-seven judges, asking them to respond to the same five cases, each involving low-level offenses. All the descriptions of the cases included summaries of the information used by judges in actual sentencing, such as the charge, the testimony, the previous criminal record (if any), social background, and evidence relating to character. The key finding was “substantial disparity.” In a case involving burglary, for example, the recommended sentences ranged from five years in prison to a mere thirty days (alongside a fine of $100). In a case involving possession of marijuana, some judges recommended prison terms; others recommended probation.
Daniel Kahneman (Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment)