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There's a lot of really strong dynasty analysis out there, especially when compared to five or ten years ago. But most of it is so dang practical-- Player X is undervalued, Player Y's workload is troubling, the market at this position is irrational, and take this specific action to win your league. Dynasty, in Theory is meant as a corrective, offering insights and takeaways into the strategic and structural nature of the game that might not lead to an immediate benefit but which should help us become better players over time.
Biases and Fallacies and Delusions (Oh My!)
It seems like all anyone wants to tell you these days is how you can't trust your own mind. Your reasoning is too flawed and fails in predictable ways.
For instance, you're too unwilling to make trades because of loss aversion (and anyway, you overvalue players on your roster because of the endowment effect, especially if you invested major resources to acquire them and therefore are falling prey to the sunk cost fallacy). You're too slow to update your rankings because of the anchoring bias (and also, you're too fast to update because of recency bias).
Here's the thing-- all of this is true. Our reasoning really is prone to failing in predictable and replicable ways. These fallacies and biases are easy to demonstrate experimentally; they've been some of the most robust findings in the social sciences, easily surviving the replication crisis.
But sometimes, the rush to condemn all mental shortcuts goes a bit too far. Each of these shortcuts was developed because it was the best strategy for survival in a particular environment. In some cases, we're no longer in that environment, and therefore that shortcut is no longer useful; it trips us up and costs us value. But this is a problem with that specific mental shortcut, not the concept of shortcuts altogether.
The reason we developed those shortcuts in the first place is that when they are well-suited to our current environment, shortcuts are tremendously useful. Not just because they save us time and energy (although let's not totally discount the utility of saving time and energy here), but because they lead to better, more accurate, more useful decisions.
Simple Heuristics That Make You Smart
To begin with, these mental shortcuts are known as heuristics (or, more commonly, "rules of thumb"). And while most psychologists have spent the last fifty years studying all of the ways that heuristics fail, a few have devoted themselves instead to studying all of the ways that they succeed.
Here's an interview with Gerd Gigerenzer, one of the foremost proponents of "fast and frugal heuristics". And he finds the situations where simple heuristics outperform calculate models the most tend to be the situations with the highest levels of uncertainty.
Consider chess. If I am playing my opponent, there is plenty of uncertainty involved. Mathematician Claude Shannon once famously estimated that there are more possible variations in a game of chess than there are atoms in the known universe. But the limits of that uncertainty are well-known. My opponent might move her king's pawn to e4, or she might prefer to move her queen's pawn to d4 instead, but she isn't going to pass Go and collect $200, and she certainly isn't going to move her Dreadlothian Battlecruiser to the Harkfasher Nebula to task the Grand Wizard Council with making humanity forget the concept of monarchy entirely, overthrowing my king and granting her a first-turn victory. We have a very clear idea of what is possible in chess. This is known as "bounded uncertainty".
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