More Luck Than Sense

Jul 23 2013 @ 8:27am

Chris Dillow reviews the results of an experiment that suggests people confuse luck and skill:

Jordi Brandts and colleagues got a group of [fourth-year finance] students to predict a sequence of five coin tosses, and then selected the best and the worst predictor. They then asked other subjects to bet on whether the best and worst predictor could predict another five coin tosses. The subjects were told that they would bet on the worst predictor from the first round, unless they paid to switch to the best predictor.

82% of subjects paid to make the switch.

But of course, there is no such thing as an ability to predict the toss of a coin. Most subjects, then, saw skill where there was only luck. And, what’s more, they were willing to spend good money to back this daft opinion.