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OPINION14 November 2017

Knowing a little

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Behavioural economics Impact Opinion UK

Most decisions we make involve educated guesswork and social cognition – we do the best we can, given our constraints writes Rory Sutherland.

A few weeks ago, a good friend of mine was asked to write the questions for his golf club quiz. After hours of tortuous work, he submitted a list of proposed questions to the organiser.

‘Which singer-songwriter hit Justin Bieber in the mouth with a sand wedge?’ The organiser looked down page after page of questions like this. “These are far too difficult. We’ll have whole rounds where no-one scores anything.”

My friend tried again, this time with easier questions. “Too easy, ” he was told. “We need to challenge people a bit more than this.”

He tried a compromise. He went back to the difficult questions and he sprinkled them with little clues. For instance, he now wrote ‘Which ginger-haired singer-songwriter hit Justin Bieber in the mouth with a sand wedge?’

Now, even if you hadn’t heard of the Ed Sheeran incident, you had a chance. The event went very well.

The following week I was watching University Challenge ...