Overconfidence Can Sabotage Your Career. Here’s Why.

Thinking Our Way Through the Third Millennium

(Originally published by Fast Company on March 26, 2024)

In their new book, three acclaimed researchers share what happens when you study the calibration of confidence levels among different professions in which predictions are integral to the work.

Expert overconfidence can have grave consequences. After the Challenger space shuttle exploded in 1986, an investigation found that NASA had officially predicted that there would be one failure in 100,000 launches—about the same odds we considered for getting hit by a car crossing Hearst Ave in the last chapter. Yet other evidence revealed that NASA had strong evidence against this rosy projection.

(Continue reading the opinion essay on Fast Company’s page here)

Saul Perlmutter is a Nobel Laureate in Physics, is a professor at the University of California, Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

John Campbell is a former president of the European Society for Philosophy and Psychology, is a professor of philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley.

Robert MacCoun is a recipient of the Cattell Lifetime Achievement Award of the Association for Psychological Science, is a professor at Stanford Law School. They are the coauthors of “Third Millennium Thinking: Creating Sense in a World of Nonsense.”