Friday, February 26, 2010

Optimism and old age (psychological research)

Research found that optimism is negative for old individuals. Why?

I suggest that optimism brings people to make more effort and get stressed (research by Segerstorm and Solberg Nes). WHile stress is negative, the positive results of these actions surpasses the cost, and makes optimism a positive trait.

The old, we know, are slow to recover form stress. It implies that hte cost of short term stress is much higher. This may make optimism an overally negative trait then.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

unconscious happiness and positive affect

Flow (Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi) is a state where one is entirely consumed in an activity. In such a state one is generally not aware of his very existence. Yet Csikszentmihalyi holds it is a central way to a happy life.

Why is not everybody trying to acheive as much flow as possible? (aside from the regular reasons why people do not improve their lives.....)

Possibly because in flow we are nott conscious of our very existence and therefore we are later less aware of the fact that we had so much fun (or positive affect ;-))

Being happy and not knowing about it is highly interesting idea. I had two periods in my life when I was very anxious etc. but other people thoguht that I looked as happy as never before and after. (I am still not sure how to accout ofr htese experiences....)

A similar idea is promoted by Daniel Kahneman with his observation that moment to moment experience differs from the way we think about our life.
One may similarly wonder what is the meaning and value of happiness at sleep.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

calibration and fine tuning are useless

Knowledge comes in two levels. The idea level, what we know more or less and uisually get the gist of it in the first look, and then comes the exact. I got convinced in this idea, but how sure am I aobut it? 80%, 90%? then you may even ask 84%? 82%.
This is calibration. The futile try to be exact in what one knows, and sometimes to define the borders clearly.

It is futile for several reasons, but most of all because its results are increased stupidity. One usually gets delusions and made up stories rather than information.

Degree of reliability goes down as one goes into smalle measures. One can know whetehr something is probably true or false. But knowing whether it is 70% reliable or 80% reliable is next to impossible.

Value of information goes down as one goes into the smaller. The ultimate meaing of a 10% difference is much lower than that of true false issue.

there is so much to think about or experience that there is no reason to waste precious attention and energy in useless fine-uning. Unless one enjoys it, maybe.

Friday, February 19, 2010

counter opportunity moments

There are moments of opportunity. When a once-in-a-life-time opportunity comes along and one got to learn how to grab it.

There are moments of weakness. Moments when there does not seem to be a suitable acitons around. When the mind in blurred etc.

Here, a very special ability is to abstain from action. Do nothing and you should be proud of it.

It is very hard, though.

A good example or this are moments of emotional overwhelm. For most of us there are times when the mind does not work very efficiently, when we really do not know what to do. But there the feeling comes that "something must be done/said", and this is a mistake. Alas, one got to be able to hold pain for that, which is another rare skill.

Monday, February 15, 2010

depends on: how you do it? how you saw it?

nothing is absolutely good/useful vs. not.

depends on how you do it other situtional parametes.

But the conet also affects learning. We see a smart move by a stupid person and we hate the idea.

So aesthetic context in acuiring knowledgeis suspicious. (it good many times, as our feelings many times convey generalizations as to where and what learn from).

But details of how you do things are crucial.

self control can be go or bad. (sometimes it denotes autism/rigidy/lifelessness + many times the cost of controlling oneself makes the whole xercie ueless and even negative). Love can be harmful. and so on.

A joke, a hug, and writing are not good or bad. Depends on how.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The general decisioin of life: Taking it seriously or not?

There are so many things in life that if only done well can make life nicer. Whether improving one's seat near the computer, getting a quality mattress, exercising and so on.

Yet, I saw two kinds of people, those who are serious about life, i.e. doing the right things always. Those more technical oriented or obssessive. And those who do not care, take life easier.

When viewed from this angle, it is quite possible that not caring too much is a better choice, even if logically it leads to mistaken decisions (the price of heaviness + the cost of unnatural life management [i.e. one "does" things because a formal decisions, instead of the natural tendency to do what one things is better for him, which is a more normal and efficient way to self manage])

I do not know. It is probably a matter of degree (and context etc. as usual).

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Why do men shave

For Baal's sake! do not take this piece seriously

It is a waste of time.

But women like shaven face (not always, just my experience. Some research I forget says that bearded men are more attractive). So men will waste time to be more attractive. After all getting laid is a central thing in life.

Now it also serves as signalling that you are in the business of women. So you want to look like you are in the talk even if you are remote.

It also signals that you are orderly enough to shave daily, which signals Conscientiousness (a personal;ity trait). Geoffrey miller in "Spent" (great book) says that much of what we do and buy is to signal our personality traits. Having a dog shows you are Conscientiousness as well as it needs constant care (I for one hate doing anything that shows Conscientiousness. The only place to be Conscientiousness is when it brings any real world value)

But the whole question is upside down and silly. Do people live with a utilitarian maximization outlook without exceptions?
Shaving can be enjoyable. grooming oneself is an interesting thing wiht various meanings. It can be kind of meditation relexation. It is always superior to watching TV

Monday, February 1, 2010

The delusion of optimality

In life we usually have to decide. We got to make some assesment of the overall picture and get to the better (optimal) way of doing.

This is how life goes, and I have no argument against it

Yet people tend to get caught in what seems to be better and assume it is an absolute better. Assume the reasons for chooosing were 100% relevant etc.

So, supporters of democracy beleive that democracy is the ultimate way of managing a soceity, it is only good, it is a moral obligation etc.
The reality is that democracy has many failures, its moral value is limited to the situations it is good for soceity, and its betterness depends on context.

Same for experts. Experts have hte advantage of being immersed in a topic and so on. Yet their mind has its limitations + the very disadvantage of being an expert (you program your mind in a certain way and you stop seeing things hte average persons sees).

Same for optimization in general and for science.

Do people want absolutes? do we need something to cling on? Is the value of eleiving worth its drawbacks (in terms of results, not that of process. I do not beleive truth has any inherent value. Its only the value of relating to reality that is sometimes useful)