by Brian on January 6, 2004

I was rereading Adam Elga’s paper on On overrating oneself… and knowing it, and it gave me a thought about some possible challenge trades in the NFL.

I think there’s plenty of pairs of teams that, going into the start of the season, each think they are better than the other member of the pair. (Some of the things Adam says suggest that he thinks one or other of them must be irrational, but I think this could be perfectly rational.) So from each team’s perspective, they expect to be better off having the other team’s draft picks. Hence there’s a possible win-win trade with the teams simply swapping all their draft picks with each other.

I guess there’s some rules against this kind of trade, but I imagine they could be circumvented. E.g. during training camp next year the Redskins trade a couple of guys about to be cut and all their 2005 draft picks to the Giants in exchange for a couple of guys about to be cut and all their 2005 draft picks. This would undermine the purpose of the draft, but I think it would be great seeing which teams make the most ridiculous overestimations. (“Yes Mr Bidwell, I think there’s a great chance the Cardinals could finish with a better record than the Patriots next year.”)



dsquared 01.06.04 at 3:45 pm

Interestingly, psychological experiments seem to discover that the only people with a remotely realistic assessment of their owbn capabilities are the clinically depressed.


Jonathan Ichikawa 01.07.04 at 1:46 am

This reminds me a little bit of the hypothetical quarterback who wins the overtime coin toss and announces both that his team will receive the ball, and that it will win, then throws a touchdown pass to the wrong team.


Michael 01.07.04 at 4:38 am

Kind of ignores the hedging effect of draft picks, though.


JRoth 01.07.04 at 5:24 am

I’ve read the thing about driving before, and I understand that people overestimate their own competence. But I wonder about the finding that most people think they’re more fortunate (faster healing, better prospects, etc.). My experience has been that people have a frustrating tendency to bemoan their luck – “Just my luck” is not a victory cry. Maybe everyone’s the star of their own movies, in which they play the superhero, with forces arrayed against them. So the weather is always bad (“rain again!” after a week of sun) and the traffic light is always red (“happens every time!”), but “their” accomplishments are superb (“I know how to pick the fastest lane”).

Hmm. I still have trouble hearing how people narrate their own lives and seeing supreme (over)confidence. Must be a failing of mine.


Matt Weiner 01.07.04 at 2:36 pm

JRoth–I think it’s well documented that people tend to attribute setbacks to outside factors and accomplishment to themselves. But I’m a philosopher (and not one of those who spends all his time reading up on psych experiments), so don’t quote me.

jonathan–That’s cold, like Green Bay in winter.

Brian–I’d say that football GMs intelligently treat the draft as a hedge, so that they wouldn’t engage in such a trade even if they expected it would benefit them, but somehow I doubt it. So I’m glad that these trades aren’t customary, or my Steelers would’ve got screwed (unless they traded with the Raiders).


Mark 01.07.04 at 4:46 pm

How many of you curve your exams on a C? If we know that we live in Lake Wobegon, are we really deluding ourselves? Maybe its just the way we answer questionaires.

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