During the Covid pandemic, the heated discussion about the safety of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccin has made it clear that humans have trouble understanding very small, or very big numbers.
We overestimate very small probabilities and underestimate very big probabilities.
This explains, for example, why many of us still participate in lotteries.
A simply trick I use to improve my decision making when dealing with very small or very big numbers, is to put the numbers into a frame which I intuitively understand.
In this case, a time scale works very well for me.
For example, to understand how much a trillion actually is, imagine the following.
If 1 equals 1 second, then:
- 1 million equals approximately 12 days.
- 1 billion equals approximately 32 years.
- 1 trillion equals more than 31,000 years.
Re-framing is one of the most powerful tools to help your own brain to make better decisions.