Uncertainty, Part II

Uncertainty dominates the world of wagering; in fact, without it, there would be none. It is vitally important that our approach to the game involve an acceptance of this uncertainty. Here are two more examples:

  • Too much study can be a negative behavior. It’s surprising — you would think the more the information, the better. But studies have shown that better decisions are made with less information, than more. Once a person has reached a critical amount of data (say 2-3 pieces, although this varies), they become overconfident that the additional data (which supports their position) makes their decision more and more certain. But this is not the case — the quality of the decision suffers from this overconfidence. The moral of the story? Settle on a few trusted sources that complement each other and, perhaps, one that has differing opinions. But stop there — additional information won’t add much to the certainty of the prediction, despite the confidence that it will.
  • Hope is a dangerous thing,” according to Red in the Shawshank Redemption. In the case of wagering, he’s right. It’s an emotion that can get you in trouble and blur your eyes to reality. Wagering is not a game for the optimist; it is a game for the realist. You need to have an accurate view of the data and interpret it correctly. Wanting something really bad to happen won’t change the underlying probabilities. As part of this, you need to be careful with your use of imagination. While it’s imperative to see different possibilities, you need to make sure that they are not overflowing with the distortion known as hope.

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