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July 14, 2017

Comments

Luis Enrique

"The statistically literate mother who thought it was just the wind was right 99 times in 100, but her child was dead the 100th and became an evolutionary dead-end."

I don't think necessarily have this quite right. The statistically literature mother knows there is a 1/100 chance of tiger so expected outcome is 1/100*child's death, if the cost of running away is lower than that, it's perfectly rational to run away.

If there is a behavioural quirk here, might it be that we need what feels like an irrational fear to motivate us to do the rational thing - run from rustling leaves?

I always think it's a bit odd to expect reasonably simple bits of maths to every do full justice to the richness of human behaviour. Of course there's a huge gulf between modelled economic agents and real human beings. Point is, can we find any relatively simple modifications to the maths that brings model systematically closer to reality. And we can, which is great. e.g. http://pages.stern.nyu.edu/~xgabaix/papers/brdp.pdf

Matthew Moore

Read Darwinian Politics by Rubin.

Great risk seeking behaviour is rewarded in human males, because of the different biology (dying and being the lowest status male in the tribe being roughly similar outcomes in evolutionary fitness terms)

It's just not true that evolution always supports excessive risk aversion, especially not in males.

Mike Newman

Chris it would be interesting to read your views on risk extended to the sphere of government and corporations. What risks should we guard against? And what cost or what limit on behaviour are we prepared to accept? A man with a red flag walking in front of a car? Insulation versus safety? Limits on expensive drug/treatments? There is an endless list seat belts, crash helmets, smoking.

John Monz

Thanks, Chris. I am especially interested in the "discontinuity" argument, which is the idea that at some point a gain (or loss) becomes large enough to be "life-changing" and thus is viewed differently by the decision maker. Thirty years ago, in grad school, this made me question the conclusions drawn from some of the early experiments in risk preference, which always implicitly assumed continuity. Thanks for the links also!

Blissex

The important cognitive bias that our blogger I think has not listed here is that makes risks outside the control of a person look much bigger than those supposedly under their control. So persons take daily amazing risks driving cars, even drunkenly, but are terrified by the much smaller risks of flying in an aeroplane.

do-Women-want-risk-takers

«Great risk seeking behaviour is rewarded in human males, because of the different biology (dying and being the lowest status male in the tribe being roughly similar outcomes in evolutionary fitness terms)»

Now let's imagine that women have an inheritable instinct to spread their genes, and that sons are the fastest way they have to do so. Wouldn't they then have an instinct to want smooth player sons with a risk taking attitude and not much empathy to women? And would women's instinct then work on the "like father like son" principle and help them get turned on by smooth player men with a risk taking attitude and not much empathy to them?
:-)

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