The benefit of the doubt

Rarely talked about, and the heart of marketing and more than that, of culture.

We can’t possibly know precisely what’s inside the book or the box or the bottle before we buy it for the first time. We take meds or go to the movies in anticipation of an outcome, and we give the producer the benefit of the doubt (or we don’t go, because the doubt is too much for us to handle.)

And we do the same thing with people. Who we hire, who we are afraid of, who we marry. We can’t know, not for sure, not until our experience with them is complete.

And we make all of these decisions without a conscious thought.

When we persistently and consistently do it incorrectly, we suffer. We create injustice, we miss out on opportunities, we fall prey to scams. The more we generalize our benefit of the doubt (and worse, the amplification of the doubt) the more damage we do.

The internet has overwhelmed us with data, and some of it (but not much) is actually turned into useful information. Some of that useful information is helping us see how long we’ve been mistaken about the benefit of the doubt in so many of the biases and actions we take (and don’t take).

Examining how we instinctually make these choices is a powerful first step in making better ones.