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The Balls Take It

By Dian Vujovich

If you remember Flip Wilson, you’ll probably remember his character Geraldine and her famous line, “The devil made me do it.” It was Geraldine’s excuse for everything. And the line spread across America repeated by almost everyone who watched his 1970s TV program.

Who knows, using that great excuse could be behind one of the reasons few today ever admit to having a hand in doing anything wrong. “It’s not my fault,” seems to be man’s first reaction to most anything when questioned about almost anything. Blaming others, I’ve heard, is like an instinctual response.

Dial ahead thirty years and today, when it comes to our behavior, we can add an attitude of overconfidence into the fold of reasons behind why we behave the way we do. New research shows that apparently our human hubris is behind everything from how we mere mortals moved out of caves and into the world, then on to distance lands and even played a part in our recent catastrophes on Wall Street.

According to a CNNMoney.com story titled “A crisis of overconfidence” by David Ewing Duncan, ” The same audacity that made us effective predators also may have driven the relentless advance of Homo sapiens from caves to condos and from primitive haggling to hedge funds…”

Duncan’s piece looks at the paper “The Evolution of Overconfidence” written by two scientists, Dominic Johnson, an evolutionary biologist from the University of Edinburgh and James Fowler, a political scientist from the University of California, San Diego.

Boil their work down and my grittiest way of explaining it is that their research basically shows that those with the biggest balls reap the greatest rewards. (For sure, authors of the study didn’t use the words ” biggest balls” but people do and I’m betting anyone reading this can pretty quickly think of at least three people they know whose actions show that they have them. That includes lads and lassies. Hope no one is offended.)

That’s because those with an abundance of confidence seem to forge ahead when facing challenges they think they can win. Whereas the less confident will “shy away from many conflicts they would win.”

Using a mathematical model to make their point, apparently it’s not rational and balanced thinking that drives folks like say Wall Street traders, or bankers, or real estate flippers, etc.etc, to make decisions but overconfidence.

Unsettling as that research may be to some, particularly those who think their financial advisors make investing decisions based upon a combination of research and what’s best for their clients, it’s also very telling. And probably oh-so true in many instances for how else could our country, and Wall Street, have gotten into the financial mess it’s currently in without a little prodding from a ballsy devil.

Read the full story at: http://tinyurl.com/y8u74lr .

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