Why You Fall For Dumb Things

The New York Times has an interesting series of tests and explanations that show why and how the human brain makes errors in estimating probability—and consequently, why we get suckered even if we think we’re overall pretty smart. To start things off, play the Times’ online version of the “Let’s Make a Deal” game, where you pick one of three doors, then you can read up on how it works. The game brought in a bunch of reader responses (and arguments), so the author, John Tierney, offered a few more thought experiments you can try if you need something to keep you distracted from your job. In today’s column, Tierney talks about why so many people naturally make errors with probability and gets a plain-English explanation from a couple of marketing and psychology experts.

I’m proud to say I instinctively reasoned the Monty Hall game correctly, which is a surprise since I have a naturally ability to screw up pretty much any probability question thrown my way.

Part I: “The Monty Hall Problem” [New York Times]
“Interactive Monty Hall Game” [New York Times]
Part II: “Monty Hall’s Other Problems” [New York Times]
Part III: “The Psychology of Getting Suckered” [New York Times]
(Image: New York Times)