Each repeated tradition, also a bittersweet reminder.
Hugs greet and farewell, transient.
Bold preparations market the reason for the season.
Market the reason for the season. — (Winter 2018)
(December 2022) Interesting the changes I see in this room pictured above – now there are off-white tiles on the floor that are less slippery for canine feet and brighter and lighter for us humans, large flat screen tv, different furniture, more on the mantle, curtains at the windows and no Christmas tree up yet.
The 2018 poem, however, remains accurate. The wind outside is blowing hard through the darkness and bringing a winter storm. I feel somewhat like I’ve had enough Christmas already, but Christmas hasn’t arrived yet. Too many decorations to put up, to take down, but then also fun to see and remember where they’ve been before. Too much, too little. The push/pull of expectations vs reality. The difference of now, compared to back when…and often back when is remembered with more highlights and less actuality. I’m quite sure it wasn’t as dark or cold, the snow was softer and had more glisten, and there were more fun things and less work involved. Hahaha! Or maybe someone else was doing the work.
And I in my slippers and sweatshirt, have just settled down to…
Wait! The final show of THE VOICE is on tonight. I’ve only got 2 minutes to get to my chair in the above pictured living room.
I started writing this article in 2013. My brother, Jeff, had gifted me the book. I read up to page 173 where Bayesian reasoning was being applied and put the book on my to-read-more table, then in my still- planning-on-reading bookshelf. Jeff died in 2016 of an arrhythmia, suddenly, unexpectedly. I haven’t picked up his gift, in a reading way since, until today. I have other gifts he gave me, kept, not used much, but treasured because he gave them.
Here’s what I was thinking/doing in the fall nine years ago:
I was reading, sitting in my dark brown reclining chair, Thinking ,Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. My gray tiger cat, Smokey flopped in my lap, the dogs settled on their beds for a long winter’s nap, they knew I was captured.
I’m not very far into this almost 500 page book about how we think. But already cooperatively doing the mental exercises in the text and, well, having trouble.
It may be my small chunk of Cro-magnon DNA, resistance to negative reinforcement, love of Star Trek, large head?, millions of words read.
The math multiplication problem I did in my head (as directed) except using mental math, which wasn’t the way he said most people would do it. He described most people as trying to repeat the process that they would have used on paper (seems foolish to me).
The concept of resemblance, well I seemed to have used the statistical considerations that are almost always ignored by everybody else (or maybe everybody else hasn’t been in the library as much or known as many farmers?).
The example of an availability heuristic, well, I kind of stopped cooperating, but it did seem like the K section of the dictionary was a smaller one. Because over and over I was using a non normal system…oh as I continued I found ways of fast thinking that my mind definitely agreed with – I AM normal, well at least if someone primes me with the idea of dessert, yes I do think c_ke? And the silly question about a bat that costs $1 more than the ball and together they cost $1.10. Well I knew the ball didn’t cost 10 cents, but there was that first temptation, which is the flaw of fast thinking.
This book was a best seller when it was published in 2011, I wonder how many people actually read it all? (oops a bit of cynical creeping in, since I haven’t noticed an improvement in decision process or maybe what we experienced in the election frenzy was the application of using this info to further drive the ‘lazy’ choices of fast thinking stupidity?).
Or right now the example of the frenzy of gun and ammunition buying, a veritable run on supplies before they’re ‘taken away’, the exaggerated fear of loss. And I don’t know, but perhaps thousands of bunkers are being built right now to store all those weapons and reloading equipment, hidden and ready for the apocalypse and zombies. Or wait, the zombies are the ones building the underground bunkers.
Or years ago the run on the hair dye product that was being recalled because it was toxic, but people who used it still wanted it to dye their hair — with toxic-to-themselves dye.
I would really like to be able to predict, or no, hm I just want to know when my way of thinking of things will be considerably different from everybody else, but that’s like Spock trying to understand Bones (Star Trek reference). This research based book may be one answer for me. I have always found decision-making and conflict extremely interesting, mesmerizing and something to play/game with rules. Voila communication disconnect, maybe reconnect.
Current time (2021 and now 2022) again
Wow! So much has happened since then. A lot of the things tied to randomness in decision making.
Kahneman has written a new book, “Noise,” about the variability in judgements by people (professionals, experts and others) causing important errors. Noise is variability where you don’t want it, like in measurements, diagnosis, prison sentencing, projects, etc. Where consistent judgements would provide fairness, better solutions, reduced errors and more.
His answers to this problem of ‘noise’ in the systems: 1) Don’t trust people, trust algorithms (note an algorithm is just a rule or set of rules). Example: I have a set of achievable outcome measures that will be videoed at the end of each beginning dog training class series which are – sit, down, come from 5 feet away and walk on loose lead for 15 steps. Or example: When I worked as a corporate consultant I followed a checklist of things that I needed to personally see or test. The checklist was my algorithm to reduce variability and increase my basis for recommendations. Or when working with an expert team on a project, I had them set up key parameters that needed to be achieved/met/measured.
A thoughtful set of rules will beat individual judgments about 50% of the time and they match individual judgment 50% the time. So thoughtful rules win overall.
What about lack of thoughtful rules?
So do you have rules about who you trust to tell you facts? Or who has integrity and so should be put in a position of power. How about history of integrity and honor, level of truth telling, capabilities seen in prior positions of power…how well, how effective, and how truly successful.
I would have never believed how easily misinformed huge swaths of people would be when a seemingly obvious set of lies were re-floated from conspiracy jocks by a known reality game-show actor, adulterer, business cheat, repeatedly bankrupt, overtly litigious, privileged-elite bully and wanna be autocrat – who by actions and deeds doesn’t believe in following US laws or Constitution, kindled an insurrection to overturn the nation’s vote and another plus: apparently demi-god to his followers, or maybe more accurately ‘cult members.’ So yeah, my thoughtful rules kept indicating NO> NO> NO> NO over and over again.
How does science and a worldwide health care pandemic become a divisive political concept, how do people think patriotism means freedom and liberty from ‘doing-no-harm-to-others’ by not mask wearing, not vaccinating themselves instead of working together to ‘do no harm’ for our own country’s well being and economic viability and their own health and wellness of families and friends. Literally appalling. But let’s add in: belief that medical health care doctors, nurses, hospitals who were overwhelmed and heroic in efforts were ‘faking’ and ‘making $’ by falsely saying COVID was killing and harming people. I wonder if Kahneman predicted this? Nah! Predictions are for soothsayers and Q-Anon followers who don’t care how many times they are wrong, just put in a new date and some extra bizarre fantasy about tunnels, microchipping, false-flags and elite baby cannibals.
So what about a thoughtful set of rules: 1) Use sources that are developed and reviewed by experts (experts do not include people without credibility in their field of study). Looking up something on Google does not make someone an expert, nor does it make your opinion equal to expert advice. Nor does it mean you have ‘researched’ something. 2) Judge honor and integrity by matching actions and history of actions. If the actual behavior does not match, then there is not honor nor integrity. 3) People who lie repeatedly about many things cannot be trusted to tell the truth,even if you like what they are saying. 4) Conspiracy jocks’ stories are fictional, entertainment which does not reflect real world facts. Putting some facts into a lie makes the lie/fiction more believable, but it does not make it factual. However, repeating it and using someone else’s repeat of it increases the perception of believability…it’s still not a fact. 5) Liberty is the freedom to be accountable and responsible, it is not the freedom to harm others. 6) Patriotism is believing in the ideals and morals of a nation. This nation was founded on the idea of democracy, but this means critical thinking and evaluating.
So a thoughtful set of rules. Marvel Comics has heroes and villains. They fly, they transform, they are amazing and awful. They are fiction. I’m hoping no one actually thinks they’re not. In some ways these comic book themes are more coherent than some of the current ‘believed’ things being floated. They, at least, have a plot line that continues with usually only the special initial features of the character being used.
Back to a thoughtful set of rules for thinking about things, for making decisions…especially important ones, for checking to see if you are still on a reasonable track. So maybe go 5 why’s deep: 1) Why do you believe this is true or why is that the decision, 2) Why again…what else? 3) Why that? 4) Why? and finally 5) Why When you get to this last one, perhaps there will be the real reason, or lack there of.
Maybe a good question to start to evaluate would be: Who is responsible for the US inflation? Go 5 whys deep.
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