Wednesday, April 06, 2005

The blink of an eye

Most people crossing streets and boulevards make it to the other side. Most of them look at oncoming traffic and make a judgment. Or somewhere in their nervous system, they are specifying, estimating, solving complex systems of equations, inverting matrices, extrapolating and deciding -- very quickly.

In Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, Malcolm Gladwell covers a lot of ground, evoking examples, episodes, studies and science that support the idea that our snap decisions tend to be pretty good. We often wisely decide (know?) that the marginal costs of extra serach are not worth it.

As we get wiser about actual decision making, we pose ever more challenges to conventional decision theory. We also get wiser about many related topics, as addressed in a terrific symposium on the "Distinction Between Information and Knowldege in Economics" in the current Econ Journal Watch.