Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment

Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment

Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment

Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment


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From the Nobel Prize-winning author of Thinking, Fast and Slow and the coauthor of Nudge, a revolutionary exploration of why people make bad judgments and how to make better ones—"a tour de force” (New York Times). 

Imagine that two doctors in the same city give different diagnoses to identical patients—or that two judges in the same courthouse give markedly different sentences to people who have committed the same crime. Suppose that different interviewers at the same firm make different decisions about indistinguishable job applicants—or that when a company is handling customer complaints, the resolution depends on who happens to answer the phone. Now imagine that the same doctor, the same judge, the same interviewer, or the same customer service agent makes different decisions depending on whether it is morning or afternoon, or Monday rather than Wednesday. These are examples of noise: variability in judgments that should be identical.
In Noise, Daniel Kahneman, Olivier Sibony, and Cass R. Sunstein show the detrimental effects of noise in many fields, including medicine, law, economic forecasting, forensic science, bail, child protection, strategy, performance reviews, and personnel selection. Wherever there is judgment, there is noise. Yet, most of the time, individuals and organizations alike are unaware of it. They neglect noise. With a few simple remedies, people can reduce both noise and bias, and so make far better decisions.
Packed with original ideas, and offering the same kinds of research-based insights that made Thinking, Fast and Slow and Nudge groundbreaking New York Times bestsellers, Noise explains how and why humans are so susceptible to noise in judgment—and what we can do about it.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780316451390
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication date: 05/31/2022
Pages: 464
Sales rank: 39,170
Product dimensions: 5.60(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

Daniel Kahneman is the Eugene Higgins Professor of Psychology, Princeton University, Professor of Public Affairs, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, and the winner of the 2002 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences. Kahneman is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences. He is a fellow of the American Psychological Association, the American Psychological Society, the Society of Experimental Psychologists, and the Econometric Society.

​He has been the recipient of numerous awards, among them the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award of the American Psychological Association, the Warren Medal of the Society of Experimental Psychologists, and Hilgard Award for Career Contributions to General Psychology, and the Award for Lifetime Contributions to Psychology from the American Psychological Association. He lives in New York City. He is the author of New York Times bestseller Thinking, Fast and Slow.

Olivier Sibony is a professor, writer and advisor specializing in the quality of strategic thinking and the design of decision processes. Sibony teaches Strategy, Decision Making and Problem Solving at HEC Paris. He is also an Associate Fellow of Saïd Business School in Oxford University. Sibony's research centers on improving the quality of decision making by reducing the impact of behavioral biases. He is the author of numerous articles in academic and popular publications, including Before You Make That Big Decision, co-authored with Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman.

Cass R. Sunstein is currently the Robert Walmsley University Professor at Harvard. From 2009 to 2012, he was Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. From 2013 to 2014, he served on President Obama's Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies. From 2016 to 2017, he served on the Defense Innovation Board of the US Department of Defense. Sunstein is author of many articles and books, including two New York Times bestsellers: The World According to Star Wars and Nudge (with Richard H. Thaler). His other books include, Risk and Reason, Why Societies Need Dissent, The Second Bill of Rights, Conspiracy Theories and Other Dangerous Ideas, The Ethics of Influence, and Can It Happen Here? Authoritarianism in America. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.


Table of Contents

Introduction: Two Kinds of Error 3

Part I Finding Noise 11

1 Crime and Noisy Punishment 13

2 A Noisy System 23

3 Singular Decisions 34

Part II Your Mind Is a Measuring Instrument 39

4 Matters of Judgment 43

5 Measuring Error 55

6 The Analysis of Noise 69

7 Occasion Noise 79

8 How Groups Amplify Noise 94

Part III Noise in Predictive Judgments 107

9 Judgments and Models 111

10 Noiseless Rules 123

11 Objective Ignorance 137

12 The Valley of the Normal 148

Part IV How Noise Happens 159

13 Heuristics, Biases, and Noise 161

14 The Matching Operation 176

15 Scales 187

16 Patterns 200

17 The Sources of Noise 210

Part V Improving Judgments 221

18 Better Judges for Better Judgments 225

19 Debiasing and Decision Hygiene 236

20 Sequencing Information in Forensic Science 245

21 Selection and Aggregation in Forecasting 259

22 Guidelines in Medicine 273

23 Denning the Scale in Performance Ratings 287

24 Structure in Hiring 300

25 The Mediating Assessments Protocol 312

Part VI Optimal Noise 325

26 The Costs of Noise Reduction 329

27 Dignity 339

28 Rules or Standards? 350

Review and Conclusion: Taking Noise Seriously 361

Epilogue: A Less Noisy World 377

Appendix A How to Conduct a Noise Audit 379

Appendix B A Checklist for a Decision Observer 386

Appendix C Correcting Predictions 389

Acknowledgments 395

Notes 397

Index 437

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