This is why I don’t believe people who claim that overcoming one’s biases isn’t important. David Romer gives a football coach solid evidence that he could win more games by running or passing on fourth down and what happens?
“It used to be that going for it on fourth down was the macho thing to do,” Romer said. But after his findings were widely publicized in sports circles, he said: “Now going for it on fourth down is the egghead thing to do. Would you rather be macho or an egghead?”
Yeah, they STOP running and passing because that would be the ‘geeky’ thing to do! Now that’s an example of a seriously costly bias if ever I heard one.
The article quotes Wayne Stewart, an associate professor of management at Clemson University, describing this as a principal-agent problem: the team owner wants to win games but the coach just wants to avoid risky plays that might make him look bad. Or geeky plays that might get him a ribbing at the bar after the game, apparently.