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Home » Gerd Gigerenzer: How Do Smart People Make Smart Decisions? at TEDxNorrköping (Transcript)

Gerd Gigerenzer: How Do Smart People Make Smart Decisions? at TEDxNorrköping (Transcript)

Gerd Gigerenzer

Here is the full transcript of German psychologist Gerd Gigerenzer’s TEDx Talk: How Do Smart People Make Smart Decisions? at TEDxNorrköping conference. This event occurred on June 13, 2012. 

TRANSCRIPT: 

Gerd Gigerenzer – German psychologist

How to make good decisions? If you open a book on rational choice, you will likely read the following message: look before you leap, analyze before you act. List all alternatives, all the consequences, and estimate the utilities and do the calculation.

This is a beautiful mathematical scheme, but it doesn’t describe how most people actually make decisions. And not even how those who write these books make decisions, as the following story illustrates.

A professor from Columbia University had an offer from a rival university, and he could not make up his mind whether to accept, reject, go or stay. A colleague took him aside and said, “What’s the problem? Just maximize your expected utility! You always write about doing this!”

Exasperated, the professor responded, “Come on, this is serious.”

The method of listing pros and cons and doing the calculation is an old one. Benjamin Franklin once in a letter to his nephew recommended exactly that. Listing all pros and cons, and then weighting and adding. And at the end of his letter, he wrote the following: “If you do not learn it, I apprehend you will never get married.”

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