Confusing signals

There are high-end products, like camera lenses, stereo speakers and cars where the conventional wisdom is that heavier is a signifier of better. It's so widely held that in many cases, manufacturers will intentionally make their products heavier merely to send a signal that they expect will be understood as quality.

And yet, in many cases, there are exceptional performers that completely contradict this belief. That the signal, which might have made sense before, doesn't actually hold true.

We do the same signal searching when we choose a book because it's been on a bestseller list, or a college because of its ranking, or a used car because of the way the interior smells and the door slams.

The same thing is true with the way we interview people for jobs. We think that a funny, calm person who looks like we do and interviews well is precisely the person who will perform the best. And, far more often than we'd expect, this is shown to be untrue.

We've all learned this the hard way, with charismatic people and with heavy stuff, too.

Signals are great. They're even better when they're accurate, useful and relevant.