Availability bias

Here’s a common workflow for one of my blog posts:

  1. Be curious about something (e.g. what does the global macro environment mean for bitcoin)

  2. Read a bunch of stuff

  3. Encounter an interesting, new-to-me concept that might help explain what I’m curious about (e.g. this simple explanation that “there's a big supply of savings floating out there, but there's nowhere near the demand for investment. And that lack of investment is bad news for economic growth.”)

  4. Write a post tying those topics together

Smashing together two concepts to see what comes out makes for good posts. They make you think. But they’re not always right. So you have to do a fifth step:

  1. Research all the other concepts that might be relevant in explaining the thing your curious about

This step is important because otherwise your posts, overall, will suffer from availability bias—the “human tendency to think that examples of things that come readily to mind are more representative than is actually the case.” The new idea will seem more explanatory simply because it’s new and occupying fresh space in your brain.

Availability bias is especially insidious if you get a lot of information from twitter or chat groups. Topics du jour seem more important and more true than they actually are. There are few thrills more enjoyable than “aha!” moments, but I’ve found it helpful to check my availability bias when I feel the onset of an “aha!”