Friday, September 2, 2011

The Role of Lotteries in Decision Making

Why was divination so popular, when their results were essentially random or pseudorandom?

We tend to think of divination methods as inferior ways of making decisions to methods based on reasons.  Despite this, we use randomness to decide many important things in society: who gets into a drug trial, for instance, or who is drafted into the army. Sometimes, the precise quality we are looking for in a decision is the lack of a reason, because reasons introduce bias, and argument, and blame into the process.

A book on this topic is The Luck of the Draw: The Role of Lotteries in Decision Making, by Peter Stone.

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