There is a quote from Robert Rubin that impressed me.
“As I think back over the years, I have been guided by four principles for decision making. First, the only certainty is that there is no certainty. Second, every decision, as a consequence, is a matter of weighing probabilities. Third, despite uncertainty we must decide and we must act. And lastly, we need to judge decisions not only on the results, but on how they were made.”
This quote is in a book by Derrick Niederman and David Boyum, What the Numbers Say; Broadway Books 2003. The book is excellent at helping readers to think quantitatively.
Unfortunately I don’t think quantitative thinking can be taught. I was a teaching assistant in college in statistics, but didn’t learn how to love numbers and probability until I worked five days a week in marketing research for many years. Then I loved it, and still do. It is the way my mind works now. Give me numbers first. If you don’t, I will create my own numbers.
My reading of the Rubin quote is that a probabilistic view of the world is necessary for effective people of action. We must review all our decisions to see where they went right or wrong and how we can revise our view of the world to accommodate our experience.