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Decide and Conquer: The Ultimate Guide for Improving Your Decision Making, Second Edition by Stephen P. Robbins

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13. How Can You Be So Darn Sure About That? Coping with Overconfidence

It’s not what we don’t know that gives us trouble, it’s what we know that ain’t so.

—J. Billings

You can’t underestimate people’s confidence in their opinions. Even experts in their field often think they know more than they do. A few famous quotes illustrate just how off the mark even the “best and the brightest” can be:

“Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau.” (Irving Fisher, Yale University economist in 1929, just before the market crash and the Great Depression)

“No matter what happens, the U.S. Navy is not going to be caught napping.” (U.S. Secretary of the Navy, December 4, 1941, three days before the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor)

“We don’t ...

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