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Another Call to End Aid to Africa

It seems to me that there is an implicit assumption in much of this that "charity" = "giving people money without teaching them to fish". But aid can exist in many forums including helping those who receive it to become more self-sufficient. I also find the original post humorous. "Dambisa Moyo, an African economist, has joined her voice to the other African economists..." I think that's some subtle editorializing with the hope of biasing us. Perhaps it should have read, Dambisa Moyo, an African economist, has joined her voice to the other African economists who live in fancy flats in London...:-)

Posting now enabled on Less Wrong

Ah, thank you, I did not see it. I missed it because it is not called "RSS", which is what I search for on a page if the visible link does not jump out at me. May I therefore suggest that in addition to making it more prominent (it really should be at the top of the page) your designer also add the name RSS to it instead of only "subscribe to this page"? Perhaps "subscribe to this RSS feed"?

Posting now enabled on Less Wrong

Why is there no RSS feed on Less Wrong? I do all of my important reading through RSS as I suspect many do.

Planning Fallacy

What a wonderful blog, I just discovered it. This is an old post so I am not sure if anyone is still following it. While I think the article raises some excellent points, I think it may be missing the forest for the trees. Perhaps due to bias :-).

For instance, the article states:

  • 13% of subjects finished their project by the time they had assigned a 50% probability level;
  • 19% finished by the time assigned a 75% probability level;
  • and only 45% (less than half!) finished by the time of their 99% probability level.

The conclusion then seems to be that everyone did a poor job of estimating. Maybe, maybe not. Why not instead question if their were other cognitive/behavioral factors at play? For example:

  1. Procrastinating until the last moment to actually do the work (you have never heard of students doing that, have you?) :-). This is a common reason that no matter how long people are given to complete a task, they do not complete it on time, or do so at the last minute.
  2. Parkinson's law (work expands to fill the time available). The more time the students have, the more they will change the scope of work to make it impressive (it will turn into a longer paper, or they will obsess more over details).

These are just a few thoughts. I submit the opposite of the articles conclusion (without invalidating it). Most projects take longer than they have to because of cognitive/behavior issues. And here I will quote the blog mission statement: "If we know the common patterns of error or self-deception, maybe we can work around them ourselves, or build social structures for smarter groups."

And that is also the key to achieving faster and on/time projects, not just accepting that our planning is faulty and looking at past projects - many of those past projects likely took longer than they needed to because of cognitive bias.