Welcome to the home of Noah Brier. I'm the co-founder of Variance and general internet tinkerer. Most of my writing these days is happening over at Why is this interesting?, a daily email full of interesting stuff. This site has been around since 2004. Feel free to get in touch. Good places to get started are my Framework of the Day posts or my favorite books and podcasts. Get in touch.

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A few times over the last few months I have talked about overconfidence and wondered how so many people could think they’re above average. Well, it turns out (or at least some scientists are arguing) it’s a good evolutionary strategy:

In fact, if the potential reward is at least twice as great as the cost of competing, then overconfidence is the best strategy. In fact, overconfidence is actually advantageous on average, because it boosts ambition, resolve, morale, and persistence. In other words, overconfidence is the best way to maximize benefits over costs when risks are uncertain.

So by being overconfident you can sometimes beat the odds and actually achieve that which you otherwise probably shouldn’t (at least that’s how I understand it). Seems simple enough, I guess.

September 25, 2009