Thursday, March 10, 2011

Fallacies and Probabilities

Human beings are poor decision makers. They are very bad at calculating probabilities in their heads. Reason for this? They are usually persuaded by emotions and beliefs and expectations. For example, e-mail phishing scams.

Now anyone using higher logic would never fall for this. Yet it exists and rip off countless people every day. A million dollar Nigerian E-mail scam ring was just busted in So Cal recently. When I was a financial advisor, people would walk into my bank with an e-mail they printed, asking us if this was legitimate. If they e-mailed this person, they would win some lottery or get cash for nothing. We always told them it was a scam. Yet a high percentage of people would leave and give them their bank information, social security information, and send them a wire of money anyway. Why? Because it's not about how probable it was, it's about how much they wanted to believe it was true. So people fall for this all the time. It's human to want to believe something so easy, that would benefit so much. Vegas makes all of its profits on this human belief.

I was recently apartment hunting and got plenty of e-mails about great and cheap places, all I had to do was send them my personal information to get a credit report. It was an obvious scam, I knew this. Yet some irrational part of me still want to send them my info anyway, because I wanted to believe it so badly. My higher logic kicked in but still...I understand that need.

In fitness, people are also always looking for some magic cure, bullet, work out, DVD, diet, etc. Spending billions of dollars. Why? They want to believe it. People always ask me for one way, one diet, one exercise, a magic number of calories, one activity, that will get them into superior shape. Why? They want to believe it. People will use this to their advantage of course to market and sell their wares.

Be an outlier. Think outside of this box. All the proven ways have always taken work, effort, and time.
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