So I recently read: Same as Ever

There was always an ongoing joke when I was growing up that if the weather forecast says it would rain, it definitely won’t rain. If they say, the day will be sunny, high chance that it will rain cats and dogs. Fortunately, the accuracy of weather prediction has come a long way and it is indeed really accurate nowadays. But forecasting remains a funny topic.

I spent the majority of the last 3 years working in forecasting for retailers. The algorithms take historical sales and inventory data and after applying a bunch of data science models, generate forecasts for the next few seasons. When it comes to retail, it is generally safe to assume that for mature market societies, patterns generally repeat seasonally. Thus, the forecasts more or less are pretty accurate. Of course, when drastic events happen, all forecasts go haywire but even those are nowadays taken into account and predictability takes into account such shocks and comes up with good predictions.

You cannot apply forecasting easily to many other things like Share Market, although people try their best to do so. Gambling and Betting on Sports play on human emotions and greed more than luck and forecasting abilities, I think. Another field that deals with prophecy is Astrology. It is beyond me that horoscopes are given such a big place in newspapers and people take pride in being from such and such zodiac signs. I can go on and on about this but let me not digress.

I recently read Morgan Housel’s ‘Same as Ever’. He surely is one of the most known writers nowadays who knows how to drive a point using stories. His earlier book The Psychology of Money was also a best seller and is often quoted. He explains, in this book, that no matter how much we can predict and play with numbers and emotions, some things never change and that is Human Behavior. Time and again, people do the same things, make the same mistakes, learn from the same mistakes, and the cycle goes on. Societies or individuals go through cycles of ups and downs and initially, we forget what we did then but later we realize. It tells that the world remains unpredictable and human attempts to tame it remain the same. Mediums might change but the primal urge to react to things hasn’t evolved much since our ancestors also reacted and adapted to changes in the same way.

It might sound pessimistic but rather the book strengthens the belief that if we have got into trouble, it is also the human ingenuity that can pave the way forward. I felt that it encourages us to experiment and use previous knowledge to come up with new solutions because even if nature cannot be predicted, people’s behavior remains the same.

As I mentioned earlier, I have been following Housel’s blog for some time and all his writings and storytelling are highly enjoyable. Like ‘Psychology of Money’, I recommend ‘Same as Ever’ as a compelling book about the psychology of people.

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