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Why I am Stupid  

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Gary Fletcher
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03/01/2019 10:08 am  

Fun and informative in an "...of course!" manner. Article references other links which I will be reading shortly:

How Not To Be Stupid

I recognize all of these things in myself, especially the Rushing (or Impatience) factor, which is certainly related to the Information Overload factor.

He walks without purpose to an uncertain fate


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ventboys
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04/01/2019 10:30 am  

I drive several hours a day now, in traffic and against a clock. I could be a great driver, following the rules of the road perfectly, and still be virtually guaranteed to get into an accident eventually, simply because someone else could do something stupid. 

So the term "defensive driving" has an entirely new meaning to me. It means I not only have to mind my own mistakes, but I have to be ever mindful of the mistakes of others. If someone pulls out in front of me, I have to know it's going to happen in time to stop. If someone runs a red light, I have to know it's going to happen before it happens.

I drive through residential neighborhoods, because I have to deliver in those neighborhoods. Dark streets are filled with kids on bikes and scooters, packs of boys who love to jump out in front of a car with a pizza topper on it, parents who think five miles per hour is too fast when they are pushing a stroller. All the while, every time I leave the shop I am against the clock, timed and judged for my speed.

And when I return to the shop, it's the same thing only reversed. I have to pick up my double-bagged order, open both bags to make sure the order is correct, pick up any side items and file the paperwork, make sure I know where I'm going, and get the hell out of the store and into my car.

That's all supposed to take about 30 seconds, according to the timer. And usually I'm in a space designed for one person, competing with a half-dozen other drivers, cooks and managers who take this moment to give you every instruction they can think of, just in case they never see you again.

How many of the seven are in there?

The danger in the shop is that I am responsible for any mistakes made by the cooks and whoever packed the two bags (both of them, separate potentials for mistakes). The challenge is that, while I'm trying to check my bags, there is that manager screaming in my ear seven different new policy changes and telling me to GET OUT!!!!! FASTERFASTERFASTER!!!!!!!"

If I miss something, I have to make that timed run twice, doubling my own time but not doubling my allowed time according to the shop. So I have to be perfectly fast and perfectly accurate, 20-30 times a shift. And I usually am.

To the shop's credit, it's pretty much obvious that nobody can live up to those standards of combined speed and accuracy, and the parent corporation recognizes that too much speed will literally kill. And they certainly don't want that. So, while the standards are always there, the managers are given a lot of latitude for forgiveness, as long as the driver (1) doesn't hurt anyone, (2) doesn't get any complaints, and (3) is usually on time and accurate.

It's a fascinating job for me, with my brain, because while it seems very much simple on the surface, it's actually an endlessly complicated, endlessly repeated series of strategic moves. It's literally a chess match, with stakes ranging from negligible (customer tip variance) to catestrophic (traffic accident). 

And the potential for being stupid is literally the challenge. How can I play this particular match without making a stupid move? One drive, or even one well- or poorly-executed turn in a parking lot, can make a difference.

And as long as I do this job, the larger chess match is the grinding, ongoing strategic process of avoiding catastrophy while maximizing speed, accuracy and financial success (good tips, good customer service, good merchandising, good advertizing), all related to always doing the right thing and not getting pulled into the stupid zone by the seven causes of stupidity.

"Of cours" is right; but that's what we do, isn't it? We find new ways to point out the obvious. The article might be a blinding flash of the obvious, maybe, but in an insightful way. That's what we all do, isn't it? Try to find insight in the mundane world that surrounds us?

 

Curmudgeon would be a great name for a newly discovered species of crab.


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Gary Fletcher
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04/01/2019 1:02 pm  

I once wrote a safety manual for how to pile lumber when working on a green chain or planer chain. It had general advice and specific advice for the operation I worked in. If you want to be good at anything then thinking about it, preparing for it, observing the goals and environment of it...all of these things require intelligence.

Or you can just wing it, I suppose.

For most of us it's not a matter of being irredeemably stupid, it's a matter of behaving stupidly. 

I think that's the appeal of the article to me, that it recognizes external influences on our stupid behaviour. Even the leader of a country...even the President of the United States with historic levels of information and learned advisers...is limited by the amount of good research available and to their ability and willingness to comprehend it (and to the time available to do so). Because no one can possibly grasp all of the information in time to take correct action, or even truly know what the correct action might be.

He walks without purpose to an uncertain fate


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ventboys
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04/01/2019 2:04 pm  

Have you ever heard of David Christian? He parses evolution into gates, based on a dramatic change in complexity. I think the techno-information boom is the next gate, and I suspect it will be quickly followed by the artificial intelligence takeover if we aren't careful, and maybe even if we are.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yqc9zX04DXs

Curmudgeon would be a great name for a newly discovered species of crab.


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Gary Fletcher
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04/01/2019 3:17 pm  

That's a really good recounting of the major points that lead to a sobering conclusion. I guess I've read about all of these things many times over the years, but I was glad all the same to be reminded of something very important...the fragility of complex systems. 

It does tie in with this thread, too. We behave stupidly (as individuals and as countries and cultures and as a species) because of that complexity. What significantly raised the rate of increasing knowledge and technology was the externalization of experience and the lessons thereof and the building of the sum of knowledge. Each step along the way also increases our vulnerability.

Will we re-enact the burning of the library of Alexandria? Or will we instead act to not only protect it, but use it to find a reasonable niche for humanity within the environment?

Within the limits of my intelligence, I am pessimistic. But I'm not bright enough or arrogant enough to think I can envision our fate. In my ignorance lies my optimism.

He walks without purpose to an uncertain fate


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ventboys
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06/01/2019 8:54 am  

If we ever invent a time machine, one of the first trips we make should be back to that Alexandria library, to save the books. 

Curmudgeon would be a great name for a newly discovered species of crab.


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Gary Fletcher
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06/01/2019 10:30 am  

That would be a fine use of such a technology. Instead, I think we'd mostly use it for tourism, getting ourselves selfies with Jesus or Manson or whoever.

He walks without purpose to an uncertain fate


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