The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Time Is Relative... At Times

As I was perusing the headlines from the email from the NY Times, I was suddenly attracted to this article:
                           You're So Self-Controlling

Since I am proud of my will power, even while realizing it is incredibly weak at seemingly crucial times, it drew my attention. It's a three page article and I grew impatient to read it through and almost gave up. Which seemed apropos of the article's theme.

Here's an excerpt...

WHAT do you do if, when you get to a subway platform, you see that it is already packed with people? Do you join the throngs to wait for the train, or do you shake your head and seek an alternative way to get where you’re going?

In my mind, I thought I would do what I always do in such a situation; check the schedule and let that information guide me. If the schedule says the train's arrival is imminent, I will likely wait, tolerating the crowd that I now see as joining me on that train. If I have long to wait and I have ample perceived time to get to my destination, I will likely seek an alternate means to get there.

To me, there are numerous factors involved in such decisions. But scientists seem to want to eliminate most of them, to simplify the process people use to make decisions. I believe our environment (society) is not easily parsed into either/or decisions. I believe that decisions are rarely one of "this or that" but often (if not always) have multiple possible choices or at least multiple factors involved in the either/or choices.

The principle factor in these studies seem to involve time perception. If one believes the schedule, one might wait. If one worries about the time to get to one's destination (running late, say) then one might almost immediately seek an alternate method. That's simplification. At any given time, those factors might not be applicable. One might have plenty of time to reach that destination, one might already be late, one might not have a  need to reach that destination at all but just want to, etc.

The author posits a situation, a test, and then points out the additional factor not planned for:

Can you forgo a brownie in service of the larger reward of losing weight, give up ready cash in favor of a later investment payoff?

The studies favor a belief that time perception is a predominant factor in decision making. But what about a craving for chocolate? Can that take precedence? Or does time perception rule?

I say that decisions are fluid, that a multitude of factors are involved with none taking absolute precedence every time. Time perception is important but perhaps one is hungry because one skipped a meal already? What if the goal (losing weight in this case) is one of  a greater need? Like saving a relationship? Or self esteem for a person whose life has been plagued by image problems?

On any given day, I believe numerous factors determine how we approach decisions, factors over which we often have no direct control. Not to mention factors we carry from our upbringing ad our genetic make up. And these impact how we approach the decision making. I don't think we can ever boil decision making down to either/or.

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