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The Evolution of Overconfidence

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Technology Review asks, "What do the following high-profile disasters have in common: World War I, Vietnam, the war in Iraq, the collapse of the banking system, and underpreparedness for natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina?" The answer is that these disasters have each been blamed largely on overconfidence.

"But how can such a condition have evolved when overconfidence can lead to destruction of communities and catastrophic loss of life?" Dominic Johnson at the University of Edinburgh and his pal James Fowler at the University of California, San Diego have an answer. "By creating a mathematical model of the way overconfident individuals compete against ordinary individuals, they show that there is a clear advantage in overconfidence."