Watching the interview between Professor Goodman and behavioural economist Professor David Laibson was a really fascinating introduction to behavioural economics for me! I have heard of behavioural economics before, but never understood it as a reaction to previous shortcomings in the field, and in relation to improving social wellbeing in relationship to improving the accuracy of our predictive systems. It’s especially interesting to understand this work as part of the broader path we’re exploring in class, as humanity endeavours to consistently improve our predictive frameworks and achieve greater accuracy in our predictions. As someone who can sometimes get caught up in political nihilism, it actually brings me a lot of hope to see that there are ways we continue to transform our core understanding of the social sciences.
I had never heard of ‘present bias’ before and it makes me think of an assignment we did for this class, where I tried to predict how long it would take to do my readings for class every day; my behavioural patterns totally fell into the trap of present bias that Prof. Laibson brings up about our sometimes dysfunctional psychological approaches towards future time.
Finally, I loved this phrase that Professor Goodman used too (around 9 minutes in): “The future of humanity is the sum total of our individual predictions”. I think this sentence really captures the scale and influence of predictive methods, but also how individual choices and behaviours play a crucial role within that larger framework.