The law of small numbers

The book Judgment under uncertainty analyzes common fallacies in how people estimate probabilities. The book asserts that no one has good intuition about probability. Statisticians do better than the general public, not because their intuition is much better, but because they know not to trust their intuition; they know they need to rely on calculations.

One of the common fallacies listed in the book is the “law of small numbers.” In general, people grossly underestimate the variability in small samples. This phenomena comes up all the time. It’s good to know someone has given it a name.

2 Responses to “The law of small numbers”

  1. […] law of small numbers says that people underestimate the variability in small samples. Said another way, people […]

  2. […] case my previous note on the law of small numbers confused anyone, I’ll compare it to the law of large […]