Archives for category: Bounded rationality

Universal healthcare is anathema to many people.
‘The government has no business to spend my tax money subsidizing other people’s health!’
Hence hose who cannot afford a doctor should either die peacefully or accept charity….

And when a private company sponsors a health care effort that company is perceived, by the same ‘many people’, as having ‘ulterior’ motives…

That’s what I consider to be a ‘perfect’ conundrum.

A self made trap!

On the other hand, let’s face it, this is a very rational attitude!
Given some private companies’ past behavior…

See what I mean?
‘Ulterior motives’ are wide-spread enough to having become normalized.
‘Greed is good’ sits high on the social pedestal.
People can no longer imagine any of their peers being driven by other motives but the immediate profit.
But the immediate financial profit!

Mind you, I’m not pretending Pfizer has suddenly morphed into a virgin knight riding a white horse and sacrificing itself on our behalf.

All I’m saying is we’re in a dire and immediate need to reevaluate our priorities!

The self made trap is 3D, you know…

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The difference between us and the rest is that we can choose.
People – humans, that is, are capable of deciding things while the rest of the animals use simpler mechanisms of determining the way forward.

The ability to decide has consequences.
The most important being ‘responsibility’.
The most common being ‘blame’.

When confronted with ‘uncomfortable’ consequences of the decision making process, people get to choose between blame and responsibility.
Between apportioning blame – and feeling better, and determining responsibility.

I’ve long ago given up ‘blame’.
Because blame is driven by emotion. Hence blinds the blamers. Prevents them from checking all the angles. Prevents them from getting as close to the reality as possible.

Let’s go back to the current pandemic.
A large number of people have not yet been immunized against Covid -19, despite the vaccine being widely available. In certain ‘jurisdictions’…

Because each of the yet unvaccinated has chosen to pass the opportunity?
Or because so much ‘dubious’ information has been floated around that it has almost drowned the sensible voices?

Should we blame the as yet unconvinced or should we ask ourselves what’s going on in the heads of the ‘gaslighters’?

Facts are clear.

WSJ is a highly reputable source, the information is old enough – if ‘fake’ it would have already been ‘debugged’,…
Then why isn’t this being hammered down our throats? Constantly?

The vaccine which had been used was Chinese?

Let’s make the same experiment using one of ours!
It has been already done?
Let’s hear about it!

We are in the middle of a pandemic.
Which will continue until we’ll build ‘herd immunity’. Which can be achieved through vaccination or by surviving the disease. Surviving the disease takes longer and costs way more than the vaccine. Lives lost, money spent for health care and money lost because of business interruptions.
And if we don’t build herd immunity fast enough, the virus might mutate into a new one. And we’ll be back to the square one.

The only section of the society which has anything to gain from our reticence to get the vaccine is BigPharma.
They are the ones who will eventually come up with a vaccine for the new strain of virus.
They are the ones providing the treatment given to the infected patients. They are the ones providing the tests.

Want to give the finger to BigPharma?

Go out there and get the jab!

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“To boldly go where no man had gone before!”

None of us had been asked for their ‘informed consent’.
Yet all of us are cramped together on Space-ship Earth towards the place where ‘no man had ever gone before’.

Now that this very suggestive image has been published, what is our voyage going to morph into?

Hell on Earth, as so many apocalyptic movies/novels have advertised?

Or are we going to heed to the present ‘wake-up call’? As we already did so many times before?

We have managed to eradicate, through vaccination, the smallpox. Polio, measles, diphtheria, rabies and so many other diseases are no longer a real danger. For those of us who had been vaccinated or have access to the relevant vaccines.

Yet faced with the current challenge, COVID 19, we have ‘doubts’…

Some of us have doubts about getting the vaccine, others about making the vaccine available to the entire ‘crew’.

What’s going on in that collective brain of ours?

What’s the rationale behind making the polio vaccine available for everybody, practically for free, while that for COVID is still out of reach for most of those who need it? Given our current industrial prowess…
Why is it so hard to understand that given enough time SARS Cov 2 will certainly mutate far enough from the original version to evade the current vaccine?

The fact that the authors above are working the equity angle speaks volumes.
Equity is, indeed, very important.
Only it relates more to ‘metaphysics’ than to the immediate reality.

Equity has to do with the perceived reality while people die in the immediate one.
The perceived reality will end up haunting us, indeed, only we have to survive the current situation in order to get to that stage.

The real problem with the lopsided access to the Covid vaccines being that while we ‘race to secure doses’ the virus has the opportunity to mutate out of our ‘control’.
Our concern with ‘equity’ somehow blinds us to the fact that ‘cutthroat’ is no longer a metaphor.
The longer it takes for us to understand that the entire crew of the space-ship Earth must be immunized the longer it will take for us to get ‘out of the woods’.

Why had our parents been able to eradicate small pox and almost do the same thing to polio?
While we’re still dragging our asses? And not exclusively about COVID… When we have so much information about everything?

What made the anti-vaxxers of those times less powerful than the current ones?

What makes me so sure the erstwhile anti-vaxxers had been less powerful?
Small pox had been eradicated, right?
I had measles. Before the vaccine had been made available. Never heard about anybody having measles until very recently.

A weakness in herd immunity contributed to the recent measles outbreak in the Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn, New York. The level of vaccination in that community was down to about 70 to 80 percent, well below the critical level of herd immunity, which was due to the spread of misinformation about the safety of the MMR vaccine among other causes. A child who had visited relatives abroad brought measles back into his neighborhood in Brooklyn, causing one of the worst measles outbreaks that New York City has seen in decades. A total of 654 individuals were infected, causing the city to issue a mandatory vaccination in people living in the four Brooklyn neighborhoods.

Let me wrap up with this.

Whoa!
What’s going on here?
Israel, the country, had made a huge effort to save its people from the misery caused by Covid!
Why would the Ultra-Orthodox community need any extra-effort to let itself be immunized?

Why was Israel’s manner of thinking closer to that of our fathers’ than to ours?
What makes us so similar, in this respect, to the Ultra-Orthodox?

Well, our fathers had to fight for their rights. And Israel for its place on the map.
We, and the Ultra-Orthodox, had our rights granted to us.

Our fathers had to cooperate among themselves in order to get through.
Israel had survived, and thrived, as the consequence of a coordinated effort.

We are cocooned in our bubbles.
We have become spoiled brats. One way or another.

We really need to start thinking outside our respective comfort zones.

For no other reason that mutinies tend to make matters worse.
It so happened that during the last 80 years no major conflict had disturbed the peace on our ship.
No thanks to us. We haven’t done anything special. Being aware that a conflict between the major powers would have ended in MAD doesn’t count as ‘doing anything special’.
During the last two generations we sorta lost our bearings.

Hopefully we’ll wake up to the fact that the next disturbance will no longer be a ‘top down’ event.
Think about it. Ever since the French Revolution – the last bottoms up upheaval, all other ‘disturbances’ had been the consequence of somebody planning for them. Initiating them.

30 years ago, the socialist lager had crumbled. Under its own weight.
Nobody had planned that event. Nobody had planned for that event!
The democratic world had been stunned by the speed with which things had unfolded.

The socialist lager had crumbled for the simple reason that the people living there had become pissed of.
Pissed of by the growing distance which separated them from those living in the ‘capitalist’ world.

Some of that distance has survived to this day. But it’s shrinking! Fast!

Unlike the distance between the ‘civilized’ world and the ‘developing nations’.

This ‘cutthroat race (among nations) to secure doses’ while so many ‘civilized’ people share-antivaxxer propaganda only adds insult to the injury felt by those who don’t have access to vaccines.
And demonstrates how far off we have distanced ourselves from the ‘hard core’ reality.

The native speakers among you don’t need to be reminded of what ‘bounty’ means.
How ironic is it?
People manning ‘the Bounty’ had had enough and chosen mutiny in place of a continuation of what they already had.
Captain Bligh, on the other hand, had learned nothing of his first experience… “Bligh, who eventually would fall prey to a total of three mutinies in his career, was an oppressive commander and insulted those under him.”

Are we going to make anything of our present predicament?

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Pigs have orgasms.
What?!?
And why does it even matter?

Orgasm consumes a lot of energy.
By itself, not what it takes to reach it!
And it somewhat incapacitates the individual experiencing it.

Try evading an aggressor while having one…

Then how could they have survived?
The orgasmic pigs… experiencing orgasm must produce an evolutionary advantage to compensate the costs incurred, right?

The way I see it, orgasm – as well as all other ‘pleasures’, is the reward for a job well done.
For having sex, for eating, for doing the right thing…

Or used to be!

Those which/who naturally/naively experience pleasure are quite different from those who, and some ‘which’, experience pleasure for it’s own sake.

With an entire gamut of consequences…

Having a drink with friends versus drowning your sorrows in booze.
Experience a gourmet dinner versus ‘digging your grave with your own teeth’ out of sheer boredom.
Feeling high after successfully climbing a mountain versus just feeling ‘high’.

Why are we doing this?
Why do we put the cart before the horses?

Out of ‘boredom’, as Calhoun’s experiment strongly suggests?

I’m afraid that for us, humans, boredom is only the circumstance. The circumstance in which we happen to choose.
‘Cause ultimately it’s us who do the choosing.

Yes, we are under an immense pressure.
To conform.
To obey the rule.
To do what is expected of us.

But is it right?
Is it really good?
And, above all, is it sustainable? At any level…

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Three of the terms involved are relatively clear.
We all know – think we know, what ‘fail’, ‘win’ and ‘cheat’ mean.
‘Honor’… on the other hand… is way more relative. Mostly to the company we keep.

For some, being honest is synonym to behaving foolishly…
After being educated in such a manner, not making use of every opportunity which presents itself to you – no matter how ‘shady’ it might be, is seen as suicidal. Not only that you loose the potential windfall, you also loose face!
You loose whatever public respect you ever had. You actually loose your honor!

Now, that I’ve already dug this far, the whole phrase needs context.
We know what ‘fail’ means but without circumstances….
What are we talking about here? Backgammon or a survival situation?
An innocuous game or a struggle to stay alive?

Most people will praise those who let themselves be killed for a noble cause.
On the other hand, it would be rather ‘bland’ to allow someone to kill you without attempting to ‘fool’ the guy into giving up, right?

On a different scale, history – and, maybe, this was what Sophocles meant in the first place, offers ample proof that communities which value ‘true’ honor last far longer – and their members enjoy far more comfortable lives, than those where cheating is a way of life.

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We start by being borne.

After a while, we are delivered. To the world. Born, that is.

That is when we open up our eyes.
When we start learning.
When the world starts teaching us.

Slowly, we develop a conscience.
We start adding meaning to what we see.
Which meaning is heavily influenced by what we had learned up to that moment.

Our conscience depends heavily on memory.
The place where we deposit both what we have learned and how we felt each time when we learned something.
How we felt actually ‘fuels’ our conclusions. The stronger the feelings, the more acute the memories.
Stronger feelings give birth to longer lasting memories.

But there’s a small problem here.
Each time we learn something new, everything we already know is reinterpreted in the light of the understanding we’ve just developed. Our memories are actually rewritten. As in ‘born again’.
Exactly the same – only stronger, if what we’ve just learned reinforces what we already knew.
Slightly to completely different if what we’ve just learned contradicts everything we’ve been previously taught.

Now, how many times did that happen?
How many times did any of us ‘turn around’?

Rarely? Seldom?
Because the meaning we attach to what we see is “heavily influenced by what we had learned up to that moment”?
Because changing our mind implies contradicting ourselves? Implies admitting that we’d been wrong up to that moment? Which makes us feel bad?

That being the reason for us tending to forget everything which contradicts our ‘biases’.
Not only we do not see it in the first place…
We might see it – some things we cannot unsee, no matter how hard we try. It’s there but we don’t remember it. We just act as if it wasn’t there.
Until so many unseen things pile up that we’re no longer able to hold them back…

And we are forced to open up our eyes!
Only those things are no longer there…
We’d already changed them. To fit our previously held convictions!

What do we do?
We close back our eyes? In the name of consistency?
Or we go to Canossa to learn how to make amends?

How much time do we still have?

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Bill Cosby was released from prison Wednesday after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned his 2018 conviction for sexual assault,

Let’s recap the events, as described in the NY Times article.

2004 – Ms Constand was raped by Mr. Cosby.
According to the 2018 sentence!
Please note that the Pennsylvania High Court didn’t say the 2018 jurors had ‘seen things”. Only that the trial shouldn’t have taken place!

2005 – The district attorney prosecuting the case “announced in a news release at the time that after an investigation he had found “insufficient” evidence. He later testified that he had given Mr. Cosby the assurance to encourage him to testify in a subsequent civil case brought by Ms. Constand. (A civil suit she filed against Mr. Cosby was settled in 2006 for $3.38 million.)”
As he was convinced he didn’t have enough evidence to make a penal case against Mr. Cosby, the prosecutor promised the defendant he will not be further prosecuted if he testified (a.k.a. ‘told the truth’) in the civil suit.
“In that testimony, Mr. Cosby acknowledged giving quaaludes to women he was pursuing for sex.”

2006 – The civil case was settled for $3.38 million. As in Bill Cosby agreed to pay that amount of money for something the prosecution wasn’t sure that it was able to convince a jury that he had actually done it.

2015 – The next district attorney reopened the case. And got a conviction. Despite the fact that the ‘main’ evidence had been provided by the defendant himself. Given after he was promised he wasn’t incriminating himself in a penal way.

2018 – Mr. Cosby is convicted for something he had done 14 years ago.

2021 – The Pennsylvania Supreme Court decides that Mr. Cosby had been practically duped into incriminating himself, found this to be unacceptable and released the former prisoner.

What are we, ordinary citizens, to make out of all these?

Be glad that our individual rights have been upheld?
It makes a lot of sense!
After all, upholding individual rights is what makes the difference between a free society and an authoritarian one.
Between people being free and finding themselves at the whims of the government.

Ask ourselves ‘what about the individual rights of the victim’?
That also makes sense.
But my experience of living under a dictatorship strongly suggests that letting some guilty people walk free is a small price to pay for making resonably sure that a government – any government, doesn’t accrue too much power over the individuals making up the people.

Ask ourselves ‘what happened to us’?
What drives so many of to use constitutional rights as loopholes?
Is this OK?

No legislation will ever be perfect!
That’s why verdicts are given by ‘peers’, judges are given so much ‘leeway’ and why, in general, the law is administered by highly trained responsible people and not by ‘machines’.

After all, how we use whatever we have at our disposal – legislation included, speaks more about ourselves than about the things we use and the circumstances in which we make our choices.

I’ll start by stating that nothing becomes fact before somebody calling it so!

Doesn’t make any sense?
It’s not enough?
OK…

So ‘blue’ had become a fact only after people had invented a word for it…
It had existed before hand but we hadn’t noticed it – hadn’t spoken about it, more exactly, until we had a word for it. Until we had learned how to ‘measure’ it…

But what is a ‘fact’?
Something which is ‘real’?
And how do you determine if something is ‘real’ or not?
It either has ‘measurable consequences’ or your experience about it has been confirmed by somebody else.
A coffee table becomes a fact in the dark after you hit it with your shin and a meteorite ceases being a illusion the moment your hubby confirms he has also seen it.
No so complicated, was it?

‘But what about a propaganda movie? It that real? Can you consider it to be a fact?’

Excellent question, Watson!

The movie itself is real alright! A fact, indeed.
The fact that not everything it pretends to be real is true… is also a fact!
Savvy?

In fact, there are more facts waiting to be discovered than actual ‘happenings’.

Take the propaganda movie.
It has consequences.
Some people believe in its message. And act accordingly. Each of those actions becoming facts on their own.
Other people smell the rat hiding behind the screen. And act accordingly. Each of those actions being facts on their own.
The fact that those exposed to the same message more often than not chose to respond differently is a strong suggestion that facts – and reality itself, are not so straightforward as we’d like them to be.
As straightforward as most spin doctors pretend them to be…

‘You’ve been jabbering for sometime now but you haven’t yet come forward. What was the meaning of that ‘elusive’ title of yours?’

Liberty.
What is it?
A fact? A natural fact? Something which was given to us? Our natural status? Something others want to steal from us?
Something we’ve built/discovered together?
Or an ideal we’ll never be able to fulfill?

How about all three at the same time?

‘Are you nuts?’

A ball – a foot-ball, for example, has a certain degree of freedom. Put it on a table and it may roll in any direction it may choose. But will ‘never’ be able to fall through the table nor start to fly. ‘On it’s own’…
A helium balloon has another kind of freedom. If it’s tied down with a string it has the freedom to oscillate. If it’s ‘free’ it has the freedom to go up. For as long as it manages to hold on on enough helium, but that’s another thing. Another fact, if you will…

A society is free only if its members respect and defend, collectively, their freedoms. Their individual freedom and their collective freedom. For instance, Russia is a free country but its citizens are not as free as their neighbors, the Fins.
The moment Hong Kong went back to China, the city was no longer as free as it used to be as a British dominion. Yet its citizens have continued to be far freer than the rest of the Chinese citizens. For a while…..

Somethings – freedom, for instance, cannot be anything more than people think about them.

Others can.
Until people had invented X-rays, nobody could know how big were the roots of any given tooth.
Until Robert K. Merton had put together a more detailed analysis of it, the law of the unintended consequences was something people intuitively knew it was ‘real’ but nobody was fully aware of its real depth. Now, most of us agree that that depth is unfathomable. Yet some people still behave as if things were under control… Under their control…

Freedom, and all other rights we have enjoyed for sometime now, is only as wide – and only as deep, as we make it to be. As we agree among ourselves to make it.
For all of us!

Collective freedom as a fact.
In the sense that the freer communities have had a consistently bigger survivability rate than the more authoritarian regimes.
Ancient Athens had been able to navigate through more ‘dire straights’ than its arch-enemy, Sparta.
The Roman Empire has been established as a democracy, thrived as one for a while then failed abysmally as an autocracy.
Yes, the Egyptian empire did survive for millennia… only it had been ruled, succeedingly, by 33 dynasties. Practically, there had been 33 regimes, not one… And since there had been some 3100 years between its unification and it being incorporated into the Roman Empire… an average of 100 years per political regime cannot be branded as a real success… Specially in the early years, when the competition was…

A quick jump to the XX-th century will suggest the very same thing. All major wars – WWI, WWII and the Cold one, had been won by the freer societies.

So collective freedom, or lack thereof, has consequences. Is a fact.

On the other hand, freedom – the real version, the one that works, cannot be had/enjoyed but in a social context.
Nobody can be free on their own.
The emperors of yore – and the dictators of today, have been under the impression – illusion, more likely, that they could do whatever they pleased. That they were free. So free that they never hesitated to trample the freedom of their subjects. Only that freedom never lasted for long… it was soon replaced by the liberty of somebody else… And all these successive liberties have been exerted at the expense of those of everybody else.

Hence liberty, individual as well as collective, is not only a fact. It’s also a social construct.

What about the ‘elusive ideal’?

And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

Oops!
The only reasonable way to read this is ‘if you want to be free, you need to think straight’.
To find out what’s keeping you down and how to free yourself in a sustainable way.
How to free yourself in a manner which will add to the freedom of all others!

Cause if your increased freedom means the debasement of your erstwhile peers… things don’t look right…

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Having started with a rhetorical question, I might as well continue by offering you some ‘trivia’.

Lytton, BC, is a 249 people strong village, situated just a tad North of the 50th parallel. Which puts it almost 300 miles/450 kms closer to the North Pole…
Its inhabitants had had to flee a fire during the hottest weather ever encountered in that area. In modern times, anyway…

During the last 300 years, we’ve been ‘releasing’ – ‘repurposed’? – huge amounts of energy. Solar energy ‘captured’ by plants and stored in the belly of the Earth as ‘fossil fuel’. By releasing that energy we’ve actually changed the composition of the atmosphere.

A third more of something which constitutes only 0.042 of the Earth’s atmosphere doesn’t amount for much, does it?

Well, considering the fact that a certain Arrhenius was calculating all the way back in 1896 the ‘global warming potential of CO2′ as a green house gas…

As already stated, this blog is about how people think.
About how we, conscious people, relate to what happens around us through the use of our ‘brain’.

So here we have it.
We’ve been doing something for the last 300 years.
‘Naively’ at first and in an increasingly scientific soon after the whole thing had gathered momentum.
From a certain point on, an increasing number of the same people who had brain-powered the process – individuals currently known as ‘scientists’, have warned the rest of us about the potential consequences of what we were doing.

And now, that those consequences have started to manifest themselves, so many of us are still in denial.
How is it possible for so many to be convinced that it’s possible to back-pedal Earth’s geological clock without having to face any consequences?!?

‘But is anything we can do to change this?’

In the late 1970-ies, we – ‘our’ scientists, to be more precise – have noticed that there was a problem with the ozone layer.
The ‘thing’ which shields life on Earth from being ‘burned’ out by the UV radiation coming from the Sun.

After a short while, people from the scientific community have determined that there was something that we could do about it. Stop using ‘Chlorofluorocarbon’ substances. Old style ‘Freon’. It wasn’t easy – we had to find substitutes and retool factories, but we did it! The ozone layer is in far better shape now!

While repairing the ozone layer had been a collective effort, eroded land must be ‘patched up’ patch by patch.

‘OK, maybe there is something that we could do about ‘it’.
What would that be?’

I told you already. This is a blog about how we think!
Not, in any way shape or form, about what we should be thinking!

Do your own research.
See what other people say about this.

And ask yourselves one thing.

We are able to ‘fly’ – by boarding a plane, of course – because ‘modern’ scientists have proven that the old ones had been wrong.
But do we – as in me and you – really know how a plane works? Yet we happily board them in droves in each holiday season.
We live way longer than we used to. Because scientists have told us how to build sewage and waste management systems, what pills to take when falling ill and what vaccines to use in order to prevent infectious illnesses from taking hold.
We lead easier lives. Because scientists have built machines which work for us.

We’ve done all this as a collective effort.
We used to trust what they were teaching us and they trusted us to support them in their endeavors.

What happened to all this?
What made us so ‘alert’?

Where did all that trust vanish? Why?
What will the consequences be?

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The standing girl does it for what she considers to be right.
The ones taking a knee, do it for what they consider to be right.
Then all play, side by side, as a team.

We, the ‘spectators’, take sides. And tear the society apart in the process.

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Another very efficient way to help is to share the posts.

As much as I love writing, I do have to eat.
And to provide for my family.
Earning money takes time.
If you’d like me to write more, and on a more regular basis, hit the button.
Your contribution will be appreciated!

As much as I love writing, I do have to eat.
And to provide for my family.
Earning money takes time.
If you’d like me to write more, and on a more regular basis, hit the button.
Your contribution will be appreciated!

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