Thursday, February 2, 2017

We have different opinions

After I think about it for a bit, it seems that having the same opinion is something of a miracle.  I grew up here with these people and these experiences while you grew up there with those people and experiences.  So, when I ask what you want for dinner or what you want to watch on tv, your natural tastes, memories and inclinations sum up to a choice that often differs from mine.  Sure, in the name of friendliness and cooperation, we may both differ to the other.  We can get into an Alphonse & Gaston situation where we both want to adopt the other's position.  Usually, we can quickly get out of that and settle on a single choice.

You like variety while I tend to like more repetition of what I already calculated to be the superior dish on menu or show on at this hour.  If you tell me that it really means a lot to you to have tuna and pinto bean casserole, I can often eat the damned thing with some gusto (are we out of gusto again??), just believing that you are loving the dish.  Besides, you have good taste and intelligence and there is often something good about your choice.  I see that over time, you are training me to like your choices but I seem to be myself enough to draw a firm line before completely falling into a blind acceptance of your inferior ideas.

Daniel Gilbert ("Stumbling on Happiness", TED talk) makes clear that most of us are poor at predicting how happy we will be in the future. When I think of my team winning, my estimate of how much that will mean to me is much affected by how happy I am when I make the prediction.  Besides, my maturity has made clear to me that cheer over a victory or satisfaction with a dish will be rather short-lived and I will return to my usual level of happiness pretty quickly.

I tend to estimate the odds that my team will win and if I think it unlikely, I may skip the game. After all, the game is much like the many games I have already watched.  Low odds multiplied by low (and fleeting) pleasure often provides an estimate lower that the estimate of the value of reading a book.

Back in 2009, I wrote this blog post "Unpredictable, That's What We Are".  We still seem to be unpredictable, which is probably a good thing.  I often hear in sports that being unpredictable is important for victory.  We live in a complex world of competition, change and challenge so I guess we are going to have a variety of goals and decisions for the foreseeable future.

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