Random, it’s an undervalued tool

There’s growing evidence experts are worse than random on any prediction, yet we still insist on listening to experts. Why?

Because we know very deeply the world is complex and constantly changing. We’re looking to have emotional relief from the burden of decision making, and we’re looking for some evidence that things will be ok.

It’s human. It’s understandable. It’s necessary. But is there some way we can fill those needs with less effort? And, as a bonus, take some power away from talking heads and get some of that power for ourselves?

Well, yes, and it’s pretty obvious. I started the article with it and you might have missed it… if experts are worse than random, then random is better than experts.

Let’s just go with random.

The world has survived with those yahoos (the worse option),  so it will be fine if we make random decisions in our lives, right?

Kinda yeah. I mean, most of us, if we do start trusting random, it’ll be something actually kind of minor, like starting a blog ( like this guy) or investing in ourselves, or just taking a road-trip.

There’s inherent risk mitigation in that. We pre-culled the truly dangerous and scary and the boring and not worth doing. It’s not truly random, but it’s definitely an emotional trick that alleviates us from the burden of doubt and fears and obsessive reading of random blogs for information to help us make good decisions.

Just do it, right? Go with random. The data works out. (5 out of 5 experts agree) You’ll get to where you want quicker with less effort. If you want to start business, instead of taking courses on how to start a business, just jot down a few things in your head that might be in that direction, and try it.

Wanna hedge your bets? Protect yourself from the downside? Drop off the highest stakes in your bet, like quitting your job. Then draw what’s left from a hat.

And bias for action. That’s the key.

Do. The. Thing.

For a period of time.

Maybe a week, or month. Take in the data, look at the results, decide on the things you want more of and a few that you want less of (vector thinking), then jot down how you might achieve those things, and randomly pick again.

This is a feedback loop. Feedback loops enable all of the biological life to exist and thrive. They even make manufacturing processes, and robots work. It's literally the scientific method. And they are exactly what makes self driving cars work.

Actually, when given a set of possible locations, they sometimes have to pick randomly between a few options, and take a leap of faith until the next loop, and see how bad their guess was. They then measure the results, estimate where they are given the new probabilities (bayesian thinking) and then try again.

And like those fancy cars, over time you’ll build more intuition due to having more results from action-resulted data, and you’ll need random less, or your random will take place in a better set of circumstances.

See, the power is more in taking an action and learning from the results. By choosing random, we're deprecating many of the things that stop us from taking action and are also making the journey more enjoyable. Knowing in advance what decision to take is so often a waste of effort because we know from data it's so often wrong. Focus instead on taking lots of actions in small loops, and learning from successes.

Go with Random! It’ll be more good than bad. It’ll work out your “have faith in yourself” muscles, and force you to be brave. Plus the cognitive and emotional load is so much lower than any other method.