Conventional Wisdom, Part II

A relevant passage from Nassim Taleb’s The Black Swan:

Show two groups of people a blurry image of a fire hydrant, blurry enough for them not to recognize what it is.  For one group, increase the resolution slowly, in ten steps.  For the second, do it faster, in five steps.  Stop at a point where both groups have been presented an identical image and ask each of them to identify what they see.  The members of the group that saw fewer intermediate steps are likely to recognize the hydrant much faster.  Moral?  The more information you give someone, the more hypotheses they will formulate among the way, and the worse off they will be.  They see random noise and mistake it for information.

Absorbed in the hourly twists and turns on cable, pundits form conventional wisdom based on noise (in both senses of the word). The daily squabbling, however, has barely any significance over time


One Response to Conventional Wisdom, Part II

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