Monday, April 20, 2015

Ellsberg Paradox

This came across my path last week, I had never heard of it and did a little research.

Basically, this paradox says that people are more likely to take part in a risk if they know the odds than if they don't know the odds. Here's an example: If I say, "Buy a lottery ticket, the odds of winning are two million to one," I am more likely to sell that ticket than if I were to say, "Buy this lottery ticket, but I don't know the odds of you winning." Realistically I could have a waaaaay better chance of winning with the second ticket, but just because of the fear of not knowing I am more likely to go with the first ticket.

We like to know, we hate not knowing (I've written about that before). But I had never thought about the fact we are willing to go out on a limb that we will most likely lose just because we know we might lose rather than not know what our chances are. We would rather take an extremely slim chance over an unknown chance (even though the unknown chance could be infinitely better).

I wonder if this is what holds us back from growing in Christ. If I knew telling people about Jesus would bring a 1 in 100 return rate, I'd know my odds so I'd tell people about Jesus. However, not knowing how many people will like what I say it's safer to just tell no one. If I knew how Jesus would use my faith I'd step out even if it was hard and took forever to come true, but since I don't know it's safer to not step out.

Is not knowing our chances really that much worse...?


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