Rock Breaks Scissors
A Practical Guide to Outguessing and Outwitting Almost EverybodyBook - 2014 | First edition.
People are predictable even when they try not to be. William Poundstone demonstrates how to turn this fact to personal advantage in scores of everyday situations, from playing the lottery to buying a home. ROCK BREAKS SCISSORS is mind-reading for real life.
Will the next tennis serve go right or left? Will the market go up or down? Most people are poor at that kind of predicting. We are hard-wired to make bum bets on "trends" and "winning streaks" that are illusions. Yet ultimately we're all in the business of anticipating the actions of others. Poundstone reveals how to overcome the errors and improve the accuracy of your own outguessing. ROCK BREAKS SCISSORS is a hands-on guide to turning life's odds in your favor.
From the critics
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Fran Lebowitz had the right idea: “I figure you have the same chance of winning the lottery whether you play or not.”
‘You can’t prove a negative,’ pandemonium broke loose.
In December 1999 the market achieved its highest-ever ten-year PE, 44.20 ... Less than three years later, the S&P 500 had shed almost half its value.
A well-informed (and disciplined) investor can make adjustments for interest rates and other factors that we haven’t considered. In recent years interest rates on fixed-income investments have been extraordinarily low by historic standards. That makes bonds less attractive as an alternative and presumably makes higher PE valuations less risky. You might therefore move the 15 and 24 thresholds up a bit. But for those who don’t trust their instincts, the 15 and 24 limits would have worked well in recent decades without any adjustments.
The tail-wagging study I mentioned reported that mammals tend to move their bodies to the right when they see something they want. A friendly dog will tilt its head to the right. Humans put their head to the right when hugging and look to the right first when entering an unfamiliar room. This fact influences the design of store displays and the layout of supermarkets.
In 2009 a hacker learned the Twitter password in a dictionary attack and posted it on the Digital Gangster site, leading to hijackings of the Twitter feeds of Barack Obama, Britney Spears, Facebook, and Fox News.
One of the more suspicious things about Madoff was how transparent he was. He claimed to use a split-strike conversion strategy.
The gambler’s fallacy is the belief that chance outcomes that haven’t occurred in the recent past are more likely to occur in the near future. It’s called a fallacy for a reason. (“I’m overdue for a win!” thinks every loser.)
He is a hero to the skeptic movement, almost on a par with Harry Houdini or James Randi. But Goodfellow did more than debunk. In demonstrating that the radio show’s mindreading was fake, he discovered an authentic form of mind reading...
For instance, when the choices were heads and tails, most people chose heads as their first guess. This was not a trivial effect. Nearly four-fifths picked heads.
The March 30, 2005, Powerball drawing had 110 second-prize winners. It turned out that they had all played numbers on a widely distributed fortune cookie fortune. In case you haven’t noticed, there are six “lucky numbers” on many of those fortunes. The much-duplicated fortune read “All the preparation you’ve done will finally be paying off” and had the numbers 22, 28, 32, 33, 39, 40. Only the last number was wrong. Had it been the winning 42, those bettors would all have been tied for first place.
Quoted wise thoughts:
It is clear that one thing which human beings find it almost impossible to do is to behave unpredictably in the simple matters of life. —J.J. Coupling [The] power of accurate observation… is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it. —George Bernard Shaw A good magician never reveals what he does for a living. —Dan Guterman
Inside, the building [MIT Museum] is a curiosity cabinet of inexplicable inventions and relics of collegiate practical jokes. An outsize can of Jolt Cola hangs from the ceiling beams, like a stuffed crocodile in the wunderkammers of old.
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