cover image Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment

Noise: A Flaw in Human Judgment

Daniel Kahneman, Olivier Sibony, and Cass R. Sunstein. Little, Brown Spark, $32 (464p) ISBN 978-0-316-45140-6

Psychology professor Kahneman (Thinking, Fast and Slow), business professor Sibony (You’re About to Make a Terrible Mistake!), and legal scholar Sunstein (Too Much Information) team up for this fascinating exploration of the bias and “noise” that cause errors in human judgment. Noise, they write, is “variability in judgments that should be identical” that, when combined with one’s own biases—conscious or not—can cause human error. The authors offer no shortage of noise-reduction strategies: “decision hygiene,” for example, involves sequencing information to cut back on the possibility of confirmation bias, a technique used in forensic science analyses, where examiners get “only the information they need when they need it.” The authors also suggest breaking down complex decisions into “multiple fact-based assessments”; avoiding group discussions, which increase noise, instead collecting individual opinions beforehand; and appointing a “decision observer” to identify bias. Though the writing can be jargon-heavy, readers will find plenty of insight and useful exercises. The result is dense and complex, but those who stay the course will be rewarded with an intricate examination of decision-making and sound judgment. Agent: Max Brockman, Brockman, Inc. (May)