Gain Essential Insight From the Monty Hall Problem
Sometimes insight can originate from the most interesting places. It may be an idea for your business from a subway ad, or some thoughts on a relationship you’re in coming from someone talking about their lunch. Our brains are constantly scanning what we perceive and connecting it to things we’ve thought about or experience before. Often these are pretty predictable (food still good) but sometimes they can surprise us.
Insights Can Come From Anywhere
Enter the Monty Hall problem. This problem was based off a game show and was answered in a columnists weekly column in 1990. The problem (taken straight from the source) is as follows;
“Suppose you’re on a game show, and you’re given the choice of three doors. Behind one door is a car, behind the others, goats. You pick a door, say #1, and the host, who knows what’s behind the doors, opens another door, say #3, which has a goat. He says to you, “Do you want to pick door #2?” Is it to your advantage to switch your choice of doors?”
Read that carefully. You can try to answer it if you please. If so don’t read on because I’m about to spoil it. At least until you’ve answered it.
So if the question seemed ridiculous to you because there was no advantage to switching or not switching you’re wrong. If you switch theres a 2/3 chance of getting the car. If you don’t switch you’re stuck with a 1/3 chance. The same chance you had when you first picked the door. If you’re interested in the proof you can read further here. But the proof isn’t why this case is interesting.
After the columnist Marilyn vos Savant published her answer (which was proven to be correct). Over 10,000 people all sent angry letters into parade magazine saying she was wrong. 10,000 people! Imagine how many didn’t send in letters but were still infuriated by it. And all those people were dead wrong.
They Were All Wrong
Why did so many people get it wrong? Wheres the insight here? Because the world doesn’t operate according to our intuition. All of these people sat down assumed something without proof and then got angry because it didn’t meet their expectations. Sound like a familiar situation?
Put in this context it seems pretty ridiculous. But we do this type of thing all the time. As teenagers we decide we want to do something with our life, with incomplete information. Then we refuse to change even when its obvious that things have changed and we were wrong. We enter into relationships and refuse to leave or change them even though they’re not working out. We use intuition instead of critical thinking to choose important things and then when we find out we’re wrong, we get angry. But not angry at ourselves angry at the question, angry at the situation. We shift the blame away from ourselves as these 10,000 people did and don’t accept responsibility for our failings.
We Get Angry At the World For Not Conforming to Our Expectations
So how do we change this? Well start by right now thinking hard about areas of your life you’ve done this. Made hasty or poorly thought out decisions and then stuck with them even when life has proven you wrong. This is hard, and probably won’t happen immediately. But stick with it for a while. Keep this notion in the back of your head and I guarantee you, sometime soon you’ll see something. Maybe its your career, where you live, your friends or something. But you’ll notice your oversight and it will help you.
Good luck and enjoy the soul searching. Its not an easy process but true happiness and fulfillment requires it and thats what we all really want.. right?
If you found this article helpful, share it with your circle. Comment some insight you had from this problem or what you think of the Monty Hall Problem. If you like my use of external examples to support points I’m making let me know to. Even the structure of GT is a work in progress and I’m always willing to adapt if it better serves my readers.