Can your habits and attitudes make you wealthy?

"You don't get rich by what you earn. You get rich by what you don't spend." (Henry Ford) Why are some people wealthier and better off than others? Given similar income levels, what predicts who will build greater wealth? Why are people of the same age and similar background factors so different in their wealth… Continue reading Can your habits and attitudes make you wealthy?

‘Model Land’ and its phantasies threaten us all.

As a mathematician and a psychologist from a network studying real-world decision-making under radical uncertainty, we work on the dangers of investing scientific models with phantastic (wished-for but unrealistic) power to resolve uncertainty and produce optimal solutions. In this short blog we discuss the dangers of forgetting that, in the context of uncertainty, successful anticipatory thinking is not about making good predictions, it is about agility when judging what information to gather to grasp an unfolding landscape, and constant curiosity about what might be left out. Algorithms - and humans masquerading as algorithms, or passing the buck to algorithms - are fragile decision-makers under many real-life conditions.

The need for constructive ambivalence during the Covid-19 pandemic.

"What we observe is not nature itself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning."Werner Heisenberg (1) Social facts reduce our experience of uncertainty “Adam's commission, the naming of things, if only in the imagination, brings them into existence, objects of thought; like God, breathes into them the power of the word."The naming of things,… Continue reading The need for constructive ambivalence during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Grappling with uncertainty, and the emotions it provokes

A chaotic lansape

The stories we tell ourselves about futures and the impact of our actions in them are important acts of imagination which enable us to act, despite uncertainty. However, they can also become over-comfortable refuges from the anxiety provoked by uncertainty and a route to disregarding important information and perspectives which challenge our certainties.

Different Minds: why we need human capabilities and machine intelligence*

“There have been great societies that did not use the wheel, but there have been no societies that did not tell stories.” —Ursula K. LeGuin To listen to some scholars of decision-making, it is a great wonder that humans have survived as long as they have. We are constantly prone to biases, rely on simplistic… Continue reading Different Minds: why we need human capabilities and machine intelligence*

Scams, Victims, and Scammers

Successful fraud requires both a set of skills and a willingness to deliberately target and deceive others. The most successful fraudsters have a capacity to look us in the eye, to engage our trust and then betray it without a qualm. This capacity is actually quite rare and often associated with personality disorder (or perhaps… Continue reading Scams, Victims, and Scammers

Money and relationships

"Money doesn't talk it swears" Bob Dylan Differences  in  attitudes to money  are a major cause of disagreements in relationships. Research  shows that financial disagreements are one of the more frequent and less easily resolved causes of relationship conflict. One study found that whilst people are often attracted to potential partners with different emotional reactions to spending, that… Continue reading Money and relationships

‘The heart has its reasons’: emotions and cognition in the world of finance

Let’s call him James, a trader in a City investment bank; young, smartly dressed, confident, and a little impatient. He sat across from me in the interview: “It’s really important to stay cool. For myself, I can say that I really don’t have much emotion while I trade”. Half an hour later, as he relaxed… Continue reading ‘The heart has its reasons’: emotions and cognition in the world of finance