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August 13, 2016


Raph Shirley

Here is a fascinating paper on the possibility of randomization in elections!



You didn't mention "The Dice Man" (1971 novel)!

An Alien Visitor

I have always thought we should get rid of job interviews and pick those that meet the criteria out of an hat.

derrida derider

Alien Visitor's employee selection method is reminiscent of the Napoleon's selection criterion for his generals ("yes, yes but is he lucky?").

Quite right too - society would be so much better if everyone was lucky, so we should provide rewards for it.


We often select staff based on how lucky they are. It produces good results.


Whenever I watch game shows where there's an element of multiple choice (e.g. Eggheads), it really frustrates me how frequently contestants are guilty of the substitution heuristic. When faced with a tricky question to which they don't know the answer, they seem to ask themselves "which of these options have I heard of?" rather than "which of these options is most likely to be correct?". Asking themselves the latter question would lead them to conclude that a purely random guess would probably be a better bet.

It also frustrates me when playing pub quizzes how often the situation arises where two people in the group have different answers to a question. It is normally the person who claims greater certainty who wins out(typically getting it wrong!). Perhaps in such circumstances where people are making educated guesses, it would be better to select randomly between the proposed options rather than go with the overconfident.

An Alien Visitor

The reason I think we should get rid of job interviews isn't to insert luck into the process but to factor out bias. In an interview you have the interviewee and the interviewer(s). If you are lucky the interviewer(s) may take a shine to you.

So in order to address the bias, which often is in favour of the extrovert, Middle class and against, for example, minorities it would be better to randomly pick those who meet the criteria from an hat.

This system wouldn't be anymore lucky than the current method of job interviews.

I have personal experience of where a really shy colleague, who was brilliant at the job, gave a shockingly bad interview because their personality was suited to interviews. Because we knew the person and knew how good they were they got the job but if we hadn't known that she would have been rejected.


Could this be a product of our secular age? In the Bible, they're always casting lots for this and that - who inherits, who goes to war and so on. Of course, back then the idea was that casting lots was a way of asking god, so they didn't have the narrative problem.

Personally, I choose at random now and then, but only when I really don't have the information to make a good decision.

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