Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Everyone is better than average

Over 90% of us think we are better drivers than average. Most people think they are better than average at pretty much everything they do. Not you of course, but other people, are mostly wrong.
This is a fundamental human weakness which holds us back. Because we think we are each better than average, we do not listen to others enough. We do not continue to learn once we have learned "enough." The only people who do not suffer from this are those who are in constant, objective, competition with others, such as athletes. But academics, politicians, businesspeople, doctors, and most of us do not have this comparison. So because we are over-confident, we make mistakes. Often, we do not even realize that we made a mistake. This is something to guard against, but is very difficult to do.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Intuition is so often wrong and unintended consequences live

It has long been thought that in fighting obesity, if we put calories on menus, people would eat fewer. This is intuitively obvious. It is also wrong. Latest research in New York shows that by putting calories on, average calories consumed at lunch went from 425 to 468. The reason seems to be that consumers seem to take knowledge as permission to indulge. This is not an uncommon result when anyone bases a decision on intuition or logic it frequently produces an unintended consequence.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

We each communicate differently

I have noticed that some people check their personal emails as often as several times a day, while others let a week go by without checking it. The latter will check their snail mail more often than email. Some people would rather make a phone call than send an email, while others do most of their communicating by email or SMS. These different attitudes to communication go unsaid. So we can get frustrated when a friend or colleague does not respond in the way we expect or prefer. We ourselves are often not aware that our own styles may be different than others'. Understanding this is important as we are unlikely to change that of others.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Groups which lobby on your behalf without you knowing about it

Millions of Americans are members of the AAA, AARP, and other similar non-profit organizations. They join because they want to get the benefits they provide. Yet these groups lobby energetically in favor of what they see as their agenda - one which the members do not vote for, and may not even know about. The AARP has a position on everything relating to aging, The AAA lobbies against environmental control (as does the Chamber of Commerce). Yet most members do not participate in this. I have long wondered how this happens. Does this dilute democracy as much as corporate lobbying? Does this make the individual voter even less important?