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Why do CEOs who excel at golf get paid more, despite poorer stock market performance?
To see how easily the mind jumps to the wrong conclusions, try virtually taking part in a little experiment...
...imagine that you are presented with information about two groups of people about which you know nothing. Let's call them the Azaleans and the Begonians.
For each group you are given a list of positive and negative behaviours. A good one might be: an Azalean was seen helping an old lady across the road. A bad one might be: a Begonian urinated in the street.
So, you read this list of good and bad behaviours about the Azaleans and Begonians and afterwards you make some judgements about them. How often do they perform good and bad behaviours and what are they?
What you notice is that it's the Begonians that seem dodgy. They are the ones more often to be found shoving burgers into mailboxes and ringing doorbells and running away. The Azaleans, in contrast, are a sounder bunch; certainly not blameless, but overall better people.
While you're happy with the judgement, you're in for a shock. What's revealed to you afterwards is that actually the ratio of good to bad behaviours listed for both the Azaleans and Begonians was exactly the same. For the Azaleans 18 positive behaviours were listed along with 8 negative. For the Begonians it was 9 positive and 4 negative.
In reality you just had less information about the Begonians. What happened was that you built up an illusory connection between more frequent bad behaviours and the Begonians; they weren't more frequent, however, they just seemed that way.
When the experiment is over you find out that most other people had done exactly the same thing, concluding that the Begonians were worse people than the Azaleans.
We live in a world of increasing pressure and uncertainty, driven in large part by digital technology infrastructures. These marvelous infrastructures bring us unprecedented connectivity and opportunities to better ourselves.
There's a "second brain" in your stomach, and it influences mood, what you eat, all kinds of disease, and decision-making. And you thought it was all in your head.