MEME: The Concorde Fallacy

What Target Did Right in Canada
By Jim BlasingameGrowing Your BusinessPublished January 23, 2015FOXBusiness

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This story isn’t to call attention to the many things Target did wrong, but rather to highlight the one thing they did right: They did not become victims of the Concorde Fallacy.

In 1956, the British and French governments, along with aircraft and engine manufacturers, began the process of building a supersonic airliner. From the start the Concorde was plagued by prohibitive budget overruns. In fact, long before the wheels came up on the first commercial flight in 1976, the partnership knew the venture would never sustain itself financially. And yet they couldn’t bring themselves to shut it down.

By the last Concorde flight in 2003, the Anglo/French misadventure had become so legendary that evolutionary biologists coined the term, “Concorde Fallacy,” as a metaphor for when sticking with a troubled project costs more than starting over with a new alternative.

Ego and sovereign pride by the Concorde partnership caused the willing suspension of economic reason. Plus they failed to apply the lesson of sunk costs, which is that, “Any decision to continue a financially unviable project shouldn’t be based on what has already been spent.” In a small business, it might sound like this, “We’ve got too much invested to stop,” or “We just need to work harder.”

Pride can be productive or it can be a problem. Consider this handy admonition a mentor once gave me that I have named the Concorde Question: “Do you have a fighting chance or just a chance to fight?”

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This is the best formulation of the problem of “sunken costs”.

Unfortunately, everyone, EVERYONE, thinks about the sunken cost, the lost opportunity, and looking bad.


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MEME: Confirmation Bias

A Simple Strategy for Shaking Confirmation Bias
[TIP ‘o’ the HAT to: The Big Picture by Barry Ritholtz 

A Simple Strategy for Shaking Confirmation Bias
Brett N. Steenbarger, Ph.D.

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One of the most insidious cognitive biases affecting investors and traders is confirmation bias. Once we hold a particular view, we tend to prefer processing information that fits with that view. What’s worse is that, because of our bias blind spots, we commonly recognize biased thinking in others, but not in ourselves. We know from research in psychology that fresh inputs and mental flexibility are essential to creativity of thought. When we become locked in confirmation bias, we cease to innovate.

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We are properly discerning about the food we put into our mouths, but not so much with the information we choose to process.  Fresh inputs, chosen for their quality, provide a healthy intellectual diet and catalyze creative thinking.  If we’re not regularly surprised by what we read and discuss, the odds are good that our brain’s diet has turned stale.  And that’s a danger zone for confirmation bias.

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Brett N. Steenbarger, Ph.D. is Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, NY and works as a performance coach for hedge funds, proprietary trading firms, and investment banks.  He is the author of the TraderFeed blog and several books on trading psychology.

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This is one of my (many) concerns.

I try and avoid it (and many other biases) by confirming external evidence.

Probably would be a good exercise t itemize all the biases. Mind map anyone?

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MEME: Raskin’s Design Principle: “Computers should never lose work or waste time.”

Don’t harm a human

During reading Jef Raskins “Humane Interface” for the first time I came across him quoting Isaac Asimov’s famous first rule for robots: “A robot shall not harm a human, or, through inaction, allow a human to come to harm.” He rightly pointed to the deep meaning this quote should have to every interface designer and it got me thinking about how right he actually is.

Raskin exchanges “robot” for “computer” and “harm a human” with “lose work” or “waste time”. But I actually would prefer to leave the “harm a human” as is, because it encapsulates both lost work and wasting time, as well as other disastrous events that can occur while using a computer / applications / websites.

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Raskin’s Design Principle: “Computers should never lose work or waste time.”

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MEME: slow and laborious; destroy thoughtlessly

“To build may have to be the slow and laborious task of years. To destroy can be the thoughtless act of a single day.”- Winston Churchill

I read this and thought of the bozo who tumbled that pile of rocks. 

Maybe I’m just a fat old white guy injineer and, while I don’t see the significance of that particular pile of rocks that got everyone upset, I do think one should think carefully about what one destroys.

Reminds me of “Reinke’s Rule of Negative Progress”!

(Namely you can screw up enough in one day that it can take weeks to fix. Keep backups and change control.)

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MEME: Good riddance to home plate collisions

Sports: Three cheers for the likely end to home plate collisions
Published by: Dan Calabrese on Saturday October 26th, 2013 

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I really don’t think anyone will miss the collisions – certainly not the catchers, who get banged up enough taking foul tips to the mask and the chest for nine innings. And as for the runners who get thrown out at the plate, and the third base coaches who decide to take a risk and send them, I guess their approach will need to be adjusted to reflect the fact that plays at the plate will now work like the rest of the game of baseball. And if it really bothers them that much, they can always try out for the NFL.

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Baseball isn’t football.

Football isn’t hockey.

Hockey is just a fight on ice.

Our society is sick with violence and, in sports, we need to change our thinking.

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