Friday, April 14, 2006

Programmer, Debug Thyself

I was just reviewing the abstract of a new article at INSEAD ("The Business School for the World"):

Doctor, Heal Thyself - Five Pitfalls in Decisions about Diagnosis and Prescribing ... The consequences of medical misdiagnoses are often catastrophic. Some psychologists hold that doctors are guided by heuristics-based cognitive processes that allow them to make constant on-the-spot decisions. Associate Professor of Marketing and Doctor of Social Psychology Jill Klein outlines five examples of the most common forms of cognitive biases that can, however unwittingly, thwart doctors' best-laid plans.

The five biases are: the representative heuristic, the availability heuristic, overconfidence, confirmatory bias, and illusory correlation. ... Phew!

It seems to me that these biases could pretty well be ascribed, in varying degrees, to those involved in software development, at all stages (design, debugging, testing, deployment, project management, etc). Wouldn't you agree?

Can you suggest any other biases, for any other sort of professional activity or occupation? ... Time for some lawyer jokes, perhaps? Golfers? Clergymen? Salespeople? Politicians?

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