“That’s because people feel worse when something bad might occur than when something bad will occur. Most of us aren’t losing sleep and sucking down Marlboros because the Dow is going to fall another thousand points, but because we don’t know whether it will fall or not — and human beings find uncertainty more painful than the things they’re uncertain about.
Why would we prefer to know the worst than to suspect it? Because when we get bad news we weep for a while, and then get busy making the best of it. We change our behavior, we change our attitudes. We raise our consciousness and lower our standards. We find our bootstraps and tug. But we can’t come to terms with circumstances whose terms we don’t yet know. An uncertain future leaves us stranded in an unhappy present with nothing to do but wait.”
Daniel Gilbert in NYT Opinion
Other happiness related posts
Random Walk—Characterized by volatility. You only find these in textbooks and in essays on probability by people who have never really taken decisions under uncertainty.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, the man who wrote of the black swans, the highly improbable and unpredictable events that have massive impact, has recently written an essay for EDGE about how those who are putting society at risk are “no true statisticians”, but merely people using statistics either without understanding them, or in a self-serving manner. its entitled THE FOURTH QUADRANT: A MAP OF THE LIMITS OF STATISTICS and can be found on the EDGE site here>
Statistical and applied probabilistic knowledge is the core of knowledge; statistics is what tells you if something is true, false, or merely anecdotal; it is the “logic of science”; it is the instrument of risk-taking; it is the applied tools of epistemology; you can’t be a modern intellectual and not think probabilistically—but… let’s not be suckers. The problem is much more complicated than it seems to the casual, mechanistic user who picked it up in graduate school. Statistics can fool you. In fact it is fooling your government right now. It can even bankrupt the system (let’s face it: use of probabilistic methods for the estimation of risks did just blow up the banking system).
An extract from “Things that go unseen” by Industrial Facility.
“When electronic products form part of a service they become the extension of the values of that service. The behaviour of the product becomes moe important than its product appearance and the object becomes simply a service tool that finds its starting point not from product marketing and commerce, but from its use and efficiency. There is no choosing to be done-only using. These ‘service tools’ become an important aspect of any brand that delivers services requiring some form of human interaction. The products, like the space, need to communicate the brand ethos. Products used to navigate or access branded spaces must do so in a manner that is consistent with the brands values.
The devices are designed to have functional sensibility so that their behaviour is more important than their appearance or physical form. The object becomes simply a “zone of transaction”.
I have been reading Derren Brown‘s recently published book “Tricks of the Mind” and have learnt alot about his debunking methods used on his tv series on channel 4. He explains his roots in “mentalism”, and the variety of professions that mentalists go onto being including tarot-readers, psychics, clairvoyants, evangelists, spiritualists, entertainers, motivational speakers(eg Anthony Robbins) and are “driven by profit, ego, ot heartfelt altruism”(Brown). He explicitly points out that he would rather be as honest as he can but to also retain a sense of drama & mystique and make his shows entertaining using psychological trickery and mind acuity. He discusses his viewpoints on the principles of NLP and methods used in non verbal communication to build rapport eg mirroring. In one chapter ” anti-science, psuedoscience and bad thinking” he further discusses the paranormal industry and looks at why we have such a need for belief systems and a desire to have such a sense of belonging.
Also see post about Dr. Richard Wiseman
“Scenarios are a tool for helping us to take a long view in a world of great uncertainty. The name comes from the theatrical term “scenario” – the script for a film or play. Scenarios are stories about they way the world might turn out tomorrow, stories that can help us recognize and adapt to changing aspects of our present environment. In a coporate context the precise definition of scenario is a tool for ordering one’s perceptions about alternative future environments in which one’s decisions might be played out. It is a set of organized ways for us to dream effectively about our own future.Concretely they resemble a set of stories, whether written out, or spoken (or visualised). They are built around carefully constructed “plots” that make the significant elements of the world scene stand out of wordly. Scenarios are not predictions. It is simpy not possible to predict the future with certainty. Scenarios are vehicles for helping people learn. Unlike traditional business forecasting or market research, they present alternative images of the future; they do not merely extrapolate the trends of the present.” – The Art of the Long View by Peter Schwartz