Thursday, December 18, 2014

Experiencing the effects of small actions

The process of experiencing the outcome (and the decision) as well as judging it and getting this visceral experience of "this was right/good" and its accompanying jolt of pleasure.

This process is costly and can annul or even contradict the emotional effects of the original action.

When the original action (say relaxing, paying pleasantly attention to a lick of ice cream etc.), is done for emotional effect, the emotional hubhub of the second order process of judging it, looking at it even, can be contradictory. Especially for small actions.

Avoiding such second order effects can be very useful.

PS. Mindfulness, letting go etc. Might partly want to get there.

Also, getting to this avoidance of second orders might not work forcefully, as forcing thought processes can cause contrary effects, as Daniel Wegner shows. That might be why meditation teachers say "gently"

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

wage gap and randomness

Without familiarity with the literature, here is an idea.

SUppose that time on the job market improves wages, not directly but opportunistically, via the randomness of jobs.

The worker meets randomly with opportunities to improve his wage (in multiple ways). Naturally, it is not totally random, because he employs selection to perpetuate anything to his advantage.

This will give a unique longevity premium that might not be captured by common stats of tenure length etc. (for example, this does not need to have tenure on a specific job, or even acquired expertise, just perpetuating whatever advantage comes by rnadomly!)

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Goodness clashes with effective help

My experience is that having empathy and heartfelt willingness to help is usually not coming with an economic numerical attitude you the help efficiency. Sometimes even any efficiency thoughts seems sacrosanct to the good person.

Which is why so many humanitarian efforts are useless.

Which is why the good people are so objecting to include the incentive effects (and moral hazard) of social plans.

Absurdly, the current social budgets are over enough for what efficient plans will need. But never enough for wasteful inefficient plans.

It is quite possible that the sum of all current pro climate policies are way more costly than a carbon tax, while having near zero effectiveness!

Why good people don't like the math of effectiveness.

1) good people are the more emotional folks. They might by their nature be less inclined to engage in utilitarian math etc.

2) doing math when the heart is involved feels sacrosanct. Even if effective policies will help many more people, it is emotionally more comfortable to "be emotional"

3) a political effect?

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Doing it right is least optimal!

This surprising fact is almost forced logically....

For most things in life we have decreasing marginal utility, that is the more we use, the less valuable it is (the last bite of the icecream is vastly less exciting than the first one etc.)

Similarly, most processes also have diminishing marginal U. Most benefit from exercise is by doing the first little bit (not being sedentary). Ten minutes of social interaction give the most benefit of not feeling lonely, while the rest is nearly useless.

Now to my toothbrushing that made me realize this point.
The "right way" to brush is clearly to twice daily, 3 minutes brushing + floss.

But if I brush once a week for one minute, the effect of this brushing will be five times stronger than the last minute of my seventh day brush. Because this superficial weekly one will remove most dir in a minute, while the effect of every minute in "doing it right" is much lower.

The idea is that the more throughout and "right" you do something, the lower the value of each point of time used.

Now brushing? the second minute per week will still be hugely valuable, even if much less than the first minute. and so on. But the twice daily 3 minutes will have the lowest per minute effect.

Ouch, for "doing it right"

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Going big: The wise, and the teenager version

Big can be about optimality, OR about excitement, story etc. 

first is optimal, second is usually delusional.

Big is optimal. whacking is at once may do it forever. making a million at once can help you retire (if you are smart) and so on.

yet, big is also about a story. it is something that holds on to our imagination. This story element, this excitement - unless it helps doing smart stuff - is foolish.

Friday, February 15, 2013

maximizable vs. limited upside things

The adage "more is better" is simply untrue for a large part of life.

"More funny" may cease to be funny (and maybe less enjoyable if it mixes you up too much....)
More satiated. etc.

In emotions, more is less many times. a little more arousal and your experience is exhausting. A little more awareness that "this is good" may spoil the whole thing and so on.

Monday, August 20, 2012

nihilism realism and good to believe

being realistic is sometimes mocked and being "nihilistic" "cynic" etc.

sometimes, being cynical and nihilistic is being coated as "realism"

reality does not care about any titles. it is there.

nihilism or sentimentalism is about emotional attitude. but people tend to mix them up.

when i told a naive teenager that having a kid means paying $100K I was telling a literal truth. the act of telling this truth may or may not have been sentimental enough.

Her cry "but it is about kids, not about money" is a mix of sentimental attitude and lack of knowledge about reality. (sentimental here is not derogatory)

Accepting that life comes about by accidents (marriage out of friends getting away, or pregnancy etc., moving countries out of completely irrelevant incidents etc.) does not equal cynicism. it is realism.

The knowledge feelings trade-off.
the "it is a different domain" is a cheap men's escape. it is different domain. but these do meet. and there is a cost of knowing the truth.

It is true that love is almost always conditional in a way. But knowing and internalizing this reality changes you, and it affects your ability to love and to experience being loved in a satisfying way.

PS. the religion of "truth" as yet another modern lunacy.