What’s the Difference?

What’s the Difference?

Wisdom in decision making is vastly more important—not just practically, but philosophically—than knowledge (Taleb).


We all have bipolar view of the world. We categorize things in terms of good and evil, rich or poor and smart or stupid. This binary way in which we perceive phenomena is often good for us because it forces us to choose instead of remaining in an indecisive space where we aren’t sure what we want. On the other hand this rush to pick one or the other can lead to some rush decisions that could be counter-productive or some decisions made between two undesirable solutions which can be literally destructive as is seen in American politics. So how can we save ourselves from this? How can we develop a different system for decision making that could lead to better average results? These are some of the questions that I will try to answer in this piece.

Firstly we have to realize the truths and the fallacies contained in this binary thought process and decide if it is worth keeping in any form. Often we are faced with two options and have no control and are literally forced to make a choice. Brake or accelerate, beef or chicken, cheque or debit etc. Most of these are pretty benign and usually (cheque or debit) have already made themselves. Other times we have to make a decision that is very significant and are faced with whether to choose Hillary or Trump or whether to go for Mercedes or BMW. Both these choices will have a bearing on the immediate future and will impact how we are seen by the public and how we feel about ourselves. Therefore they are clearly very important and should be made very carefully. News networks will often come up with poll after poll and invite experts to dissect every word the two candidates have said in minute detail ad nauseum. Others will come with logarithms and algorithms and studies which are controlled for biases and have half-blind and double-blind studies to arrive at the right answer. In my view the correct question to ask is what’s the difference?

Asking this question not only creates a clear path between the decision and the outcomes of that decision, but it also forces us to contemplate why we want to do the thing we want to do in the first place. Ensuring our motivations are well-placed could probably be the subject of another discussion but it is critical to decision making and is probably the catalyst of a lot of good decisions that people make, lack of which is probably the reason a lot of good people make bad decisions. Another banana skin is that we often make x decision hoping it will lead to y result but are confounded when that doesn’t happen. I believe that could probably be traced to us not having done the proper homework to figure out whether x will eventually lead to y and I believe it is the reason for the 20/20 hindsight people tend to have after they are faced with a negative result of a decision they had hoped would lead to the opposite result.

In closing I’d like to say that when making decisions and placing hope in the consequences of those decisions, practicality and pragmatism is vital to ensuring successful results. Thank you for reading, till next time.



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