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Data from the future in the presidential race

Looking back on the presidential election of 2012, one view of the Obama win is to attribute it to his team’s understanding of a phase shift in electoral dynamics: Democrats looked at historical turnout numbers and perceived a systemic change; in contrast many believed that Republican certainty in a Romney win was based on a reasonably expected regression to the mean.  This is the essential idea behind “data from the future“.   We ignore these principles in this system, as in many others, at our peril.

In light of this history, it’s worth asking if the fundamental dynamics of how elections are won is shifting this year again. Continue reading

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Towards two-marshmallow government

There’s a well-known psychological experiment, where children are offered a marshmallow, and told that if they could wait a few minutes before eating it, they’d get two. The kids who could handle the delayed gratification were more successful in later life.

I visited a city on the east coast of the US recently, and was surprised to see deteriorated infrastructure—cracking sidewalks and broken walls—right next to brand-new construction. On the plane back, my seatmate—a long-term resident—expressed her frustration with city planners. “They seem to have a bit of tunnel vision,” she explained, going on to say that the lack of a light rail and a downtown sports center were also symptoms of short-term thinking. Fearful of the construction impact, local residents voted these initiatives down.

Like the one-marshmallow kids, these residents weren’t able to envision a future in which a short-term cost led to a much greater long-term benefit. Continue reading

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Guest Post: What is Decision Intelligence (DI), anyway?

Decision Intelligence: An easy and pedagogical way to make Informed Decisions using collective intelligence

Have you sometimes had the feeling that you missed important aspects in your decision making which make you feel somewhat uneasy?

Did you perhaps forget to take certain facts into consideration or did you misjudge the relative importance of an influencing factor? Did you realize the unintended consequences of the decision taken?

You know there is a tacit cause-and-effect mechanism under the surface, but maybe you did not capture it, or even not understood it.

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