Nathanael Yellis By Nathanael Yellis • Last Updated May 18, 2021

Acton had a bunch of exercises where each of the class's study groups would present a decision to the whole class. We would vote on the winner and use their decision to guide the rest of that class session. Winning these votes usually gave you a better grade.

Some of the savvier of my classmates began to defer and allow other groups to go first. In a remarkably competitive bunch, this seemed odd to me. But then I realized: we always selected one of the final two groups as the winner, and almost always the final group.

I talked about this "go last to win" situation with one of my professors, and he remarked that almost all of our presentations were pretty sharp, so all things being equal he thought we picked the one we remembered best. The most recent one.

Setting often determines judgment calls. If you're unaware of the setting, you can set yourself up for perpetual losses. Eagerness to go first at Acton meant your study group would never win and would usually receive a worse grade.

My lesson from Blink is: be aware of how you exercise judgment and make sure you aren't inordinately influenced by factors not part of the actual decision.


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