What’s the point of data?
How can we utilize data appropriately to increase the probability that we actually get closer to what we want in life?
In this core principle article from The Guardian Academy (TGA) we will open some loops and shed some light on some of the potential pitfalls of data and how it is being used.
Quote Of The Day
If you think you can control your emotions, think that some people also believe that they can control their heartbeat or hair growth.Nassim Nicholas Taleb
We tend to believe that we have more control of our emotions than we do. We also tend to be impulsive and justify our actions with data so that it doesn’t seem like we are acting impulsively.
Data And “Data Driven” People
The more exposure to data often times the worse decisions end up being made.
This is because humans are impulsive and emotional.
The dangerous part is that they will utilize data to rationalize their decision making after the fact.
What Is The Purpose Of Data?
In order to truly understand this we need to go back to one of our core principles in TGA.
We only take asymmetric bets (to the upside).
- We aren’t going to bet $1 to win $1 (symmetric).
- We also aren’t going to bet $1 to win 0.50 cents (asymmetric to the downside).
- If we are going to take that bet it could be, bet $1 and win $1,000,000 (asymmetric to the upside).
All decisions we make are bets on some level, so we always want to make sure that we are only taking those bets where our asymmetry is to the upside.
This is what we’d refer to in TGA as “Engineering luck”.
We should be keeping the asymmetry to the upside just like everything else. This is a fundamental principle and it would not make any sense in doing things with perfect symmetry or asymmetry to the downside.
The Only Purpose Of Data Is To Inform Behavior
The question to answer is:
Is this going to change or modify my behavior?
If not, exposure only has downside. Here is an example to work through.
“I wonder how much I weigh?”
Does seeing my weight impact me heavily?
- If yes, I will need to be careful of this additional data and the emotional impact it will have on me.
- If I don’t like the number I see on the scale do I have the ability to modify my behavior?
- Do I have the time, resources, energy, and willingness to start exercising or eating differently. If NOT the only outcome possible from stepping on the scale is incurring an emotional LOSS.
Imagine you are in this investment: 15% return with 10% volatility per annum (From Nicholas Nassim Taleb).
Yearly: 93% of the time you’ll have a positive exposure.
Monthly: 67% probability of positive exposure.
Daily: 54% probability of positive exposure.
Minute: 50.17% chance of positive exposure.
If you are viewing on the minute time frame, half the time it’s up, half the time it’s down. The problem with this is that a loss hurts more than an equivalent gain feels good (a volatile break-even will incur an emotional loss).
Inappropriate frequency of exposure to winning strategies can cause us to incur an emotional loss and make bad decisions.
The purpose of data is to inform behavior, you need to understand your solvable problem, and have an appropriate frequency of exposure.
Data should be tracked as often and accurately as possible to develop a trend over time. Knowing that we cannot expose ourselves to it at inappropriate frequencies unless we are willing to modify our behavior.
Making emotional decisions based on an inappropriate frequency of exposure is not being data driven; it’s being impulsive and justifying it with data.
Appropriate Frequency Of Exposure
So what is the appropriate frequency of exposure? This depends on your Solvable Problem™, macro belief, and understanding of yourself.
Solvable Problem™– If you have a goal that you need to fund in 6 months you will have a different strategy, a different appropriate frequency of exposure compared to if you had a goal 15 years out.
Macro belief– What is your belief in? If you have a belief that real estate in Arizona is going to 10x over the next 10 years, it doesn’t make much sense to look at your real estate portfolio every day. This inappropriate frequency of exposure might cause you to abandon a strategy developed in a state of sobriety due to an emotional decision.
Understanding Yourself– Some people are inoculated to data, others are impulsive. Develop a strategy that fits your personality and your Solvable Problem™.
6WU- Wisdom Comes From Multiple Perspectives
Can you condense your thoughts into six words to summarize what you learned? Leave yours and read through others so that you can gain wisdom from multiple perspectives about the same concept.