Life Is Poker, Not Chess

Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored

The Belt & Road Today

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A Fact

The Trump Administration has done the worst job in the world of managing the pandemic.

r/QuotesPorn - “Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.” —Aldous Huxley [1501x900] [OC]

Trump criticized his pandemic taskforce appointee Dr. Deborah Birx in a Monday tweet after she warned the pandemic is "extraordinarily widespread" in the US. Now it seems both sides of the partisan divide do not believe Dr. Birx anymore. Nancy Pelosi, who said on ABC's "This Week" that she did not have confidence in the task force coordinator because the President continues to spread disinformation.

"I think the President is spreading disinformation about the virus and she is his appointee, so I don't have confidence there, no," Pelosi said.

Birx then defended herself on Sunday.

"I have never been called pollyannish, or nonscientific, or non-data driven," Birx said. "And I will stake my 40-year career on those fundamental principles of utilizing data to really implement better programs to save more lives."

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A Musing

Life is Poker, not Chess. The decisions we make in our lives (business, saving and spending, health and lifestyle, relationships, parenting, etc) involve luck, uncertainty, risk, and occasional deception — prominent elements in poker.

Unlike poker, chess contains no hidden information and very little luck.

We get into trouble when we treat life decisions as if they were chess decisions instead of poker decisions.

This is how we believe we form abstract beliefs:

  1. We hear something.

  2. We think about it and vet it, and then determine whether it is true or false.

  3. We form the belief.

Unfortunately, this is how we actually form abstract beliefs:

  1. We hear something.

  2. We believe it to be true.

  3. Only sometimes, later, if we have the time or inclination, we think about it and vet it, determining whether it is, in fact, true or false.

Thus our default setting is to believe what we hear is true. In our current world situation, that is extremely dangerous. Given the current pandemic and the lack of leadership from the world’s largest (at least for now) economy, you don’t even have the luxury of trying to play chess. With the rules changing on a daily basis, and misinformation abounds, work on your poker game.

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A Book

Thinking in Bets by Annie Duke is a good book for understanding, identifying, and correcting biases in decision making. It also shows the reader how to separate the quality of a decision-making process (which you can control) from its outcomes (which you can not fully control).

Annie Duke, a former World Series of Poker champion turned business consultant, draws on examples from business, sports, politics, and (of course) poker to share tools anyone can use to embrace uncertainty and make better decisions. For most people, it's difficult to say "I'm not sure" in a world that values and, even, rewards the appearance of certainty. But professional poker players are comfortable with the fact that great decisions don't always lead to great outcomes and bad decisions don't always lead to bad outcomes. -

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