Well-Calibrated Claims About Difficult Questions
Baruch Fischhoff Carnegie-Mellon University
When I went back to school to get a PhD., I had the extraordinary good fortune to stumble into Amos Tversky and Danny Kahneman's research group, at the time that they were creating their "heuristics and biases" approach to judgment under uncertainty. It was an exciting time, seeing important science created before your very eyes, with a remarkable cast of fellow students, some of whom will be known well to readers of this volume: Maya Bar Hillel, Ruth Beyth-Marom, Zur Shapira, Ruma Falk, Gershon Ben-Shakhar, and David Navon, among others.
As we struggled to master what was already "out there" in the field of decision making, it quickly became clear that the action was disproportionately in a few academic centers. Most were in likely places--namely, major American research universities, with the intellectual resources needed to feed an emerging interdisciplinary field. The University of Michigan was one, the University of Colorado another, the Oregon Research Institute a third (which made more sense once we realized that this anomalous organization was mostly ex-Michiganders, a long stone's throw from the University of Oregon).
Then there were the Swedes. They had exotic names, like Mats Björkman (how did you pronounce it?) and Ola Svenson (man or woman?) and Henry Montgomery (exotic in the Swedish context, at least). More important for us students, they were doing significant work (defined, in part, by our advisors' insistence that we read it) in a small country, remote from the American centers of power. We didn't know exactly how they did it,