You can go far with blunt instruments

Satyajit Rout
2 min readJan 31, 2023

We tend to think absolutely, in all-or-nothing terms.

But thinking in probabilities moves us from the embarrassment of not knowing the right answer to preparing for a range of futures. A more accurate estimation of the future happens when we improve the quality and quantity of what we know.

Photo by Naser Tamimi on Unsplash

This is important because we know so little and if what we know is mistaken but we don’t realize it, then we really don’t have a clue about our ignorance. It’s worse than not knowing.

So, first, we must repair the cracks in the ‘what we already know’ pile. Next, we must increase the size of the pile. How do we do that?

By making bets about the future. By estimating the likelihood of something happening in the future and then checking our guess against reality. Estimating is nothing but building a target and taking aim.

✔A good way to start is to use common terms to express likelihood.

Words like rarely, usually, unlikely, maybe are imprecise. In that sense, they are blunt instruments. But they are still sharper than always and never, yes and no, all and nothing. Which is what we otherwise default to — absolute terms.

A blunt instrument is better than nothing. Even if you have only them, you have more than what most do.

💡Probabilistic thinking announces your uncertainty and gets people to correct you if they think you’re off the mark. That is what improves the quality of your decisions.

--

--

Satyajit Rout

I write about decision-making, mental models, and better thinking and things in between