Those who underthink things would probably benefit from overthinking them a little bit, and those who overthink things would probably benefit from underthinking things a little bit. See, in my family (and probably in yours as well) I see this polarity constantly. People who should have made large and obvious life decisions ages ago, and people who make huge mistakes on whims.

Donald Knuth articulated “We should forget about small efficiencies, say about 97% of the time: premature optimization is the root of all evil. Yet we should not pass up our opportunities in that critical 3%” Humans would greatly benefit (especially in the context of life) at getting that ratio correct: don’t make big decisions on a whim, don’t lag on them either.

But how could you apply that in your own life? What is a big decision and what isn’t? What deserves to be thought about and what doesn’t? Let’s construct a framework for that.

It seems better to overthink a startup and underthink moving to a new location. Why? Because you can always move back. You can’t just undo a startup. It’s not the likelihood of failure or even the cost. It’s the irreversibility which implies whether you should think or not think.

Decision Reversibility Under or over think?
Tattoo Low Overthink
Reading a book High (you can stop reading it) Underthink
Starting a blog Low (internet is written in ink) Overthink
Startup Low (can’t unstart a startup) Overthink
Learning a new programming language High (stop learning it) Underthink
Hanging a painting on the wall High (take it down) Underthink
Creating an account on a new social media site Low (it’s hard to erase digital presence Overthink
Getting a dog Low Overthink
Moving to a new country High Underthink

I just overthought overthinking. This is thinking about overthinking overthinking. Meta-overmeta-overthinking.

2021/07/30 by Ishaan Koratkar

I’ve been watching the 20212020 Olympic Games. They’re competitive and fun. Only to a point. Machined athletes, trained from the second they could stand on two feet (who would be genetically engineered if that was allowed) compete for their genetic dominance on a global field. Han Chinese VS European Caucasian. It’s boring. The game is no longer fun.

Instead of watching swimmers evolve into fish people in 4 year epochs, let’s do something about this.

The Y-lympics: an improved Olympic Games rule set

2021/07/28 by Ishaan Koratkar

In the movie Kate and Leopold, the (now defunct) product Palm Pilot is unashamedly advertised to the viewer. At a crucial scene later in the movie, the protagonist, who has become a spokesperson for a product realizes he actually hates the product. He follows his moral code and says he will not endorse the product further. If only the movie could do the same.

Product placement and advertising do their best to program children’s brains so that they nag their parents to buy something. Children have no way to defend themselves from this attack on their still-forming brains. Adults have no way to defend themselves from a child’s nagging and obsessions. Obsessions are a great thing for kids to build skills that help them later in life. Skills such as language, math, science, and many more things.

Advertising isn’t all bad as it lets things like individual producers make their content largely free to the world. People need to learn how to defend themselves against shifting from a consumer to a product. Social media sites do this at an alarming rate. Endless scrolling makes (especially young) people turn into anxiety fueled advertising revenue. In the future, people will feel their alarms sound when they are exposed to this kind of scheme. The same alarms that sound when you meet someone who comes off as creepy or with bad intentions. Until then, you can build defense against shifty advertising schemes by just being on guard and paying attention to the content you consume. Humans are smarter than the marketing lizards in Silicon Valley like to think[1].

  1. I’m not saying that everyone in SV is a lizard, but some people are. Like Mark Zuckerberg just seems like a guy that’s clueless as to how Facebook is hurting people, or not paying attention. He doesn’t seem to want people to be these endlessly-scrolling advertising units that they are becoming, but can’t stop it either. ↩︎

2021/07/18 by Ishaan Koratkar

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