I just started reading Nate Silver’s The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail But Some Don’t. The first few chapters are fascinating, discussing everything from the housing bubble to electoral behavior to weather patterns.
I particularly loved this thought on humanity’s avoidance of mystery and uncertainty:
The most calamitous failures of prediction usually have a lot in common. We focus on those signals that tell a story about the world as we would like it to be, not how it really is. We ignore the risks that are hardest to measure, even when they pose the greatest threats to our well-being. We make approximations and assumptions about the world that are much cruder than we realize. We abhor uncertainty, even when it is an irreducible part of the problem we are trying to solve.
Why are we so fearful of the unknown?
What is it about mystery that captures our imagination in certain venues and mediums (haunted houses, movies, fiction) but causes us to flee and avoid when it matters most?