Joys and Sorrows of Making Decisions

With all the data available, it might seem that the decision-making process is quite easy, almost enjoyable. But the ability to make the right decisions is not entirely based on reading the numbers. Contra intuitively, we, the proud creators of data analysis software, want to give a shout-out for all the people who take some time for tuning their instincts.

Terry Pratchett said that “The truth may be out there, but the lies are inside your head.” and more often than not, we are waiting for the truth with our own set of biases. Even from the right data it is easy to reach false conclusions, when the conclusion is desired. One of most common cognitive biases is confirmation bias, when we find a way (usually unconsciously) how to bend the data to better suit our needs and wants. We all tend to validate our preconceptions, overestimate some information above others (availability heuristic), jump the bandwagon and feel  overprotective over our previously made decisions (choice-supportive bias). We would like to think that we can eliminate these fallacies by building the right tool, with clearly stated information that is visualised in context. And hopefully, we can. But big part of the work is still in hands of the person making the decision.

So why not leave the decision making only to numbers? Surely they can’t be biased. But they also miss something very important, the feeling in our guts. Only humans can take risks and calculated risks are risks nevertheless. We have that bit that takes things from good enough to extraordinary. We would like to praise all the experts taking risks and making the last step in decision making process. They deserve it. And if we can make it easier for them, our mission is complete.

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