10 reasons why the combined intelligence of 7 billion people = global stupidity

[Memorize these and you'll never have to accidentally implode the world economy.]

  1. Availability bias, which causes us to base decisions on information that is more readily available in our memories, rather than the data we really need;
  2. Hindsight bias, which causes us to attach higher probabilities to events after they have happened (ex post) than we did before they happened (ex ante);
  3. The problem of induction, which leads us to formulate general rules on the basis of insufficient information;
  4. The fallacy of conjunction (or disjunction), which means we tend to overestimate the probability that seven events of 90% probability will all occur, while underestimating the probability that at least one of seven events of 10% probability will occur;
  5. Confirmation bias, which inclines us to look for confirming evidence of an initial hypothesis, rather than falsifying evidence that would disprove it;
  6. Contamination effects, whereby we allow irrelevant but proximate information to influence a decision;
  7. The affect heuristic, whereby preconceived value-judgments interfere with our assessments of costs and benefits;
  8. Scope neglect, which prevents us from proportionately adjusting what we should be willing to sacrifice to avoid harms of different orders of magnitude;
  9. Overconfidence in calibration, which leads us to underestimate the confidence intervals within which our estimates will be robust (e.g. to conflate the 'best case' scenario with the 'most probable'); and
  10. Bystander apathy, which inclines us to abdicate individual responsibility when in a crowd.
-Niall Ferguson, The Ascent of Money [based on Eliezer Yudkowsky, 'Cognitive Biases Potentially Affecting Judgment of Global Risks', in Nick Bostrom and Milan Cirkovic (eds), Global Catastrophic Risks (Oxford University Press, 2008)]

See also, Tower of Babel, problems during construction of