[From The Black Swan , pgs. 159-160]
This section deals with common prediction errors; I found it very interesting.
1. Taleb uses life expectancy here: the older we get, the fewer days we have left. Makes sense, right? If we live past our predicted death date of 79 to age 90, we don’t get 50 more years tacked onto the odds-chart. We’ll get around 5; and if we live to 100, we’ll get 2.5, etc. This is easily understood.
2. But with outcomes dependent on human variables, we can have extreme fluctuations. If a person tells you a project will be done in 79 days and it isn’t done by day 90, it’s not likely to be finished on day 95. If it’s not completed on day 100, Taleb says it’ll have another 89 days to go. “The longer you wait, the longer you will be expected to wait.”
This is so true, and so simple, and yet it seems less of a “common sense” item than the first one. Why is that? Maybe because for most of us, or possibly it’s just me, we want to trust people when they tell us they’re going to do something, and when they’re late, we want to believe that they’re going to fix the problem and finish up as close to the originally promised date as they can.
Anyway, I’m still getting a lot out of this book, though I read it in small doses, sometimes putting it down for a week or more.