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Gus Van Horn blog last won the day on May 15 2018

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  1. The Foundation for Economic Education recently published an article about millionaire Bernie Sanders with the title, "Bernie Is a Capitalist, Whether He Likes It or Not." Although this may be true of the first of the following dictionary definitions of the term, it is patently false about the second: 1. a person who has capital, especially extensive capital, invested in business enterprises. 2. an advocate of capitalism. 3. a very wealthy person. I would emphatically add that it's debatable, to say the very least, that "he deserves that money." It is his property, under capitalism, and he did gain it by trade. To that extent, it is proper that he has the money. But he did so while advocating an immoral and impractical -- a vile and deadly -- ideology. In that sense, he "deserves" that money in the same sense that a chiropractor or a fortune teller deserve whatever they receive from others, and he should thank his lucky stars for the remnants of capitalism that are allowing him to get away with it. I do, believe it or not, for reasons analogous to criminals sometimes walking free in our justice system: It's the price we pay for the protection of the rights of the individual being the default in our government. Or which, like private property ought to be default, but which Sanders and his ilk want to finish turning into "51 percent of people choos[ing] something, and the other 49 percent have to go along." This article, sadly and tellingly, does not convey outrage or even alarm that this is an increasingly accurate description. The piece does contain other interesting information -- such as a link to the instructions Sanders could follow to volunteer for income equality, were he sincere about his advocacy of the same; and it does indicate that socialism calls for government coercion. But it misses a big opportunity to make a case against Sanders that would really hurt: a moral one. As Ayn Rand once pointed out to FEE founder Leonard Read: Image via Wikipedia, public domain.The mistake is in the very name of the organization. You call it The Foundation for Economic Education. You state that economic education is to be your sole purpose. You imply that the cause of the world's troubles lies solely in people's ignorance of economics and that the way to cure the world is to teach it the proper economic knowledge. This is not true -- therefore your program will not work. You cannot hope to effect a cure by starting with a wrong diagnosis. The root of the whole modern disaster is philosophical and moral. People are not embracing collectivism because they have accepted bad economics. They are accepting bad economics because they have embraced collectivism. You cannot reverse cause and effect. And you cannot destroy the cause by fighting the effect. That is as futile as trying to eliminate the symptoms of a disease without attacking its germs. [bold added] (Letters of Ayn Rand, pp. 256-257)FEE would have done better to point out that Sanders, like many others who have become the first kind of capitalist -- including many who truly deserved their fortunes, like Bill Gates -- are far from being the second kind. More broadly, they could have noted that unless more of us become the second kind of capitalist, there won't be any of the first kind for much longer. -- CAVLink to Original
  2. Weighing the idea of a column on Earth Day, I learned the following amusing and thought-provoking coincidence: Image via Wikimedia, public domain.Unbeknownst to [Earth Day founder Gaylord] Nelson, April 22, 1970, was coincidentally the 100th anniversary of the birth of Vladimir Lenin, when translated to the Gregorian calendar (which the Soviets adopted in 1918). Time reported that some suspected the date was not a coincidence, but a clue that the event was "a Communist trick", and quoted a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution as saying, "subversive elements plan to make American children live in an environment that is good for them." J. Edgar Hoover, director of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, may have found the Lenin connection intriguing; it was alleged the FBI conducted surveillance at the 1970 demonstrations. The idea that the date was chosen to celebrate Lenin's centenary still persists in some quarters, an idea borne out by the similarity with the subbotnik instituted by Lenin in 1920 as days on which people would have to do community service, which typically consisted in removing rubbish from public property and collecting recyclable material. Subbotniks were also imposed on other countries within the compass of Soviet power, including Eastern Europe, and at the height of its power the Soviet Union established a nationwide subbotnik to be celebrated on Lenin's birthday, April 22, which had been proclaimed a national holiday celebrating communism by Nikita Khrushchev in 1955. [links and notes omitted, bold added]The pronoucements and proposals of leftists routinely demonstrate massive evasion or ignorance of well-known facts of history of their own civilization: It's no stretch to imagine even more ignorance of the actual history of the nation so many of them idealized at the time. At the same time, the coincidence should give us pause for the same reason the famous image of the first subbotnik (pictured) should. How valuable and to whom is unpaid manual labor? Setting aside making a show on his part, Lenin serving as a human cog on a log-moving machine is ironic even under communism: Otherwise, why have government planners at all? Shouldn't he be reviewing a five year plan or something? (This is not to endorse central planning on moral or practical grounds.) Likewise, why spend your time this way, only to take paying work away from groundskeepers, landscapers, and the like? You are a human being with but one life to live. Let the termites recycle, and consider using your mind and your capacity for enjoyment on this day, particularly if you have it off. That's the most natural and proper thing for a sentient being to do, anyway. -- CAVLink to Original
  3. Notable Commentary Before the fire had even been extinguished, close to $1 billion was pledged to rebuild Notre-Dame de Paris. The overwhelming majority of these funds came from non-government sources. (Image by LeLaisserPasserA38, via Wikipedia, license.)"Using taxes to preserve history is a violation of the rights of those who don't want to be forced to pay for that preservation." -- Bob Stubblefield, in "Letter: Preserving History Is Not a Function of Government" at The Aiken Standard. "Unfortunately, warning only that socialism is impractical has proved ... impractical ... as its advocates rely on moral grounds." -- Gus Van Horn, in "Why Is the American Right So Reluctant to Defend Capitalism?" at RealClear Markets. "As politicians start to debate the merits of 'Medicare for all,' Americans would be wise to remember how things turned out the last time the government attempted to transform the US health system." -- Paul Hsieh, in "How Government Policies Created the Current Disaster of Electronic Health Records" at Forbes. "[M]ore and more debt is required to add what looks like less and less profit..." -- Keith Weiner, in "Debt and Profit in Russell 2000 Firms" at SNB & CHF. -- CAV Link to Original
  4. Yet another article that never mentions the s-word -- this one by Reuters -- chronicles the already long-incredible yet ever-increasing misery that socialism is causing for Venezuelans. This article details the predicament of refugees who flee into Brazil, but can't afford bus fare to travel any further to find employment. Specifically, some are working as scavengers in the dump of a border town, and the following quote comes from one of these unfortunate souls: "He is so wrong. Look at us here in this dump," [23-year-old mother Rosemary Tovar] said. "If Maduro does not leave Venezuela, I will never return there."The problem, socialism -- the system that makes a Maduro possible in the first place -- is bigger than one man, but think about the rest of the above statement, too. This clip, from inside Venezuela, recently went viral. The fact that a mother would rather toil away in a dump than return to her home should give fans of Bernie Sanders and his ilk pause, at least based on the questionable assumption they value their own well-being. -- CAV Link to Original
  5. ... So Reluctant to Defend Capitalism? Image by wdreblow0, via Pixabay, license.Which "political belief are you scared to share with friends?" So asks a March survey at FiveThirtyEight. What a strange question -- particularly in a prosperous nation born out of coffeehouse debates and political pamphleteering. I can't imagine why any thoughtful adult would be reluctant to share their politics with a true friend. Furthermore, since opinion shapes politics through voting, we should want to discuss our opinions. However, that poll question doesn't hold a candle to the reluctance of many pundits and political figures on the right to speak up for capitalism on moral grounds. With socialism en vogue on the American left even as its latest iteration is obliterating Venezuela, this is an ideal time to make the case for the only system that justly rewards creativity and hard work, while simultaneously making us richer. Granted, Trump said, "We will never be a socialist country," during his State of the Union; and Mitch McConnell defeated the Green New Deal 57-0 in the Senate. But how persuasive was Trump's taunt, or the Senate debate? Mike Lee's (R-UT) remarks were possibly the best. He rightly noted that the Green New Deal is unserious, but ... To continue reading my latest column, please proceed to RealClear Markets. I would like to thank my wife and Steve D. for their comments on earlier versions of this piece. -- CAV Link to Original
  6. "You say industry can regulate itself? Prove it," thunders the title of a recent editorial in the New York Times, before making great hay of a implied failure of a government pilot program to change how hogs are inspected in slaughterhouses. So, for starters, we aren't actually talking about industrial self-policing, aka deregulation. Now, let's look at the standard of proof we are to adopt before we change or jettison an inspection regime the Grey Lady admits is "out of date:" Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images, via Pixabay, license. The system of slaughterhouse regulation is out of date. The industry has succeeded over time in sharply reducing the kinds of problems visible from the slaughterhouse floor -- the government says its health inspectors increasingly are policing aesthetic issues -- but the incidence of some illnesses caused by pork consumption has stopped falling. ... The Clinton administration agreed in 1997 to let five hog plants adopt the inspection system that the Trump administration wants to embrace for the whole industry. In 2013, the Agriculture Department's inspector general reported that the pilot program had not demonstrably improved food safety. In response, the government defended the new system as no worse than the old one. [links omitted, bold added]But there is "some evidence of increased risk:" During a span of four years, the five processing plants in the program were cited 22 times in total for failing to remove caracasses from production that could cause food poisoning. That averages out to just over one hog per plant per year. The piece does not cite a comparable statistic for the rest of the industry for the reader to gauge for himself whether there is truly an "increased risk," due to expanding the pilot program; or, if so, whether it is an acceptable increase; or of the nature of the risk. Certainly, some federal inspectors are at "risk" of losing government jobs and having to seek employment in the private sector, if the pilot program is expanded. In any event, there is no information for the reader to use to determine if the end of the decrease in instances of foodborne illness is due to a technological limit or some other factor. Instead, we are left to assume that even more federal inspectors would surely lead us to the nirvana of zero instances of illness due to bad carcasses. But I favor eventually getting the government completely out of the business of quality control, given that there are great incentives for keeping customers alive so they can keep buying sausage. That said, it will not necessarily be a simple matter to back out of regulation. For one thing, as this piece shows, there is, in some quarters, a great failure to appreciate the power of the profit motive. This failure is both due to a suspicion of selfishness and to the idea, part assumption and part self-fulfilling prophecy, that businessmen are out to make a quick killing, and so don't think long-range. Decreased vigilance by the public, based on the assumption that the government is watching everything accounts for that second factor. On top of the hand-waving arguments against the small reduction in personnel Trump inspecting the meat industry, this article does a great disservice regarding the whole debate about regulation, with a big assist from the President: It is using a small, unprincipled step towards apparently less regulation as a convenient straw man to ensure that people remain ignorant of what actual deregulation is, and whether it might do a better job than the government is doing of ensuring the safety of our food supply. -- CAVLink to Original
  7. A while back, when commenting on the Jussie Smollett hate crime hoax, Walter Williams took note of the following good news en route to his main point: Image by Dominick D, via Wikipedia, license.Here's the good news about the racial hoaxes on the nation's college campuses: Left-wing college students have a difficult time finding the actual racism they claim permeates college campuses. Thus, they have to invent it. Though it has not been proved yet, these students may have support for their racial hoaxes by diversity-crazed administrators, who nationwide spend billions of dollars on diversity and a multiculturalist agenda. Racial discord and other kinds of strife are their meal tickets. [bold added]This is a very good thing and I agree that charges should have been pursued. The fact that the charges were hastily dropped is wrong, and it threatens those hard-won gains. We should never be complacent about racism or equality before the law, even in times in which we seem closer to the latter ideal than at any other time in our history. Part of that vigilance is acknowledging the progress made culturally and politically. -- CAV Link to Original
  8. Blog Roundup 1. Peter Schwartz offers a short movie review of Apollo 11 at his blog. Here is the opening paragraph: You wouldn't think that a movie about the Apollo 11 mission that consists simply of footage shot at the time of the event could present a compelling, inspiring story. Yet this film does just that.Already curious about this movie before seeing this review, I now intend to see it. Unfortunately, it is not clear to me that I will be able to do so in a theater. I think it's gone from mainstream theaters here, but possibly scheduled to show in an independent one. I am not sure. 2. The blog of the Center for Industrial Progress presents an analysis of the true cost of solar energy: Solar power is at least predictable for this application... (Image via Wikimedia, public domain.)How do we quickly convey that the alleged price of unreliable energy has nothing to do with the price of reliable energy? One question I find helpful to cut through the noise is: "What is the cost of self-sufficient solar?" Just like a nuclear plant or a coal plant can produce reliable power, and we can assess that cost, I want to know the cost per unit of energy of producing abundant, reliable power just using solar and storage. The answer, actually, is that we don't know since no industrial location uses self-sufficient solar -- which is not a good sign in terms of the affordability of solar. [emphasis in original]This is a very timely point, given that I am constantly seeing solar energy proclaimed -- solely on the basis of cost per unit of energy used -- as insanely cheap, and thus on the fast track to dominance. 3. The blog for the Texas Institute for Property Rights notes a problem with the rationale for one group's opposition to a bullet train between Dallas and Houston: f the bullet train doesn't meet the standards set by this coalition, [it holds that] government officials should prevent the line from being built. While the coalition purports to support property rights, their stance is a direct assault on property rights. They want to dictate how a private business operates, and they want to use the coercive power of government to impose their views. The post goes on further to note two important further considerations: (1) The use of eminent domain (which is proposed for this project) should be opposed; and (2) principled respect for the property rights of others demands that we respect the right of others to make business decisions we don't agree with. 4. Over at Value for Value, Harry Binswanger asks, "What is national sovereignty?" According to the Cato scholar, immigrants have a lower proportion of criminals than do native Americans. Philosophically, though, it doesn't matter. Suppose the crime rate for immigrants were triple that of native Americans. Since justice is not collective, that fact would not justify any interference with the flow of immigrants across our borders. You think it does? Would you then advocate that the police go to a poor neighborhood, where the crime rate is triple the average, and eject or imprison everyone? Would you even advocate "extreme vetting" of the entire population of that crime-ridden neighborhood? I hope not. [emphasis in original] I further agree that ending the "War on Drugs" would help solve many of the problems many people associate with immigration. And I would add that ending the welfare state would also help. -- CAV Link to Original
  9. A piece in the Economist provides the following salt to take with the next habits of highly effective people article you encounter: The danger of copying chief executives is that what makes their habits fashionable is usually strong profit growth and share price performance, and those can be ephemeral. Quirks that look daring and groundbreaking in good times seem more of a liability in testing times. Just ask shareholders in Tesla. Image by Free-Photos, via Pixabay, license. Yes. Think of how Elon Musk runs conference calls, or his tweeting habits. Or maybe look for another person to emulate. Regardless of your opinion on that last question, the fact remains that some people can be wildly successful in spite of some of their habits. A similar type of article, which I dub health advice from centenarians gives us more examples: No. I don't think I need a to sip whiskey daily -- or, for that matter, to be cavalier about smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. When pursuing success, it can pay to study examples, but sometimes, it could be worth asking, "What other factors or habits might account for this person's success?" Some of those may well be worth adopting indeed. -- CAV Link to Original
  10. Image by RISE, via Wikipedia, license.Over at Reason Magazine is a thought-provoking piece on home organization guru Marie Kondo. I have to admit that I have not paid much attention to Kondo, despite having heard of her something like a year ago. This is in part because her question about things sparking joy sounded corny to me. Coupled with the nonessential of how, exactly, to fold socks, her enormous popularity screamed "Fad! Waste of time!" to my contrarian disposition. But one's snap judgements need not be etched in stone, and I am grateful to reader Steve D for bringing the piece to my attention. Aside from the remarkable similarities (and shallowness) of the thoughts of Tucker Carlson and Bernie Sanders regarding the accumulated junk so many Americans are mired in -- and more important -- is that one can see that Kondo is trying to get people more in touch with what they value when she asks her question: Kondo's life's work is to help people sort their belongings, toss a bunch of them, and put the rest away neatly. She calls it The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. She asks her clients to hold each object they possess one at a time to decide if it "sparks joy." If it doesn't, one thanks the object and discards it. Sound anti-consumerist? It's not: The insight that undergirds her entire system is that stuff can, in fact, make you happy.I disagree that stuff -- any more than money -- can make you happy. But, yes, as the saying about money goes, it sure helps. (Or it can, anyway.) The piece gets to that later: At the core of Kondo's project is an idea more revolutionary than and in opposition to the prevailing anti-materialist moral consensus. By asking you to pay attention to how you feel about things, she hopes to help you become more sensitive to stuff-induced euphoria. Kondo taps into the strong feelings people have about their belongings rather than asking them to minimize those impulses, as the practitioners of both left- and right-wing variants of anti-consumerist austerity demand. ... When Sanders scoffs at a wide deodorant selection and Carlson sneers at cheap iPhones, both men exhibit astonishing failures of imagination. Of course an affordable iPhone brings joy, by enabling better communication with the people we love, if nothing else. And for some hard-working, sweaty people, a good deodorant arsenal is absolutely crucial to day-to-day well-being. [bold added]Kondo's approach reminds me of the following insight Ayn Rand had about the nature of emotions: Just as the pleasure-pain mechanism of man's body is an automatic indicator of his body's welfare or injury, a barometer of its basic alternative, life or death -- so the emotional mechanism of man's consciousness is geared to perform the same function, as a barometer that registers the same alternative by means of two basic emotions: joy or suffering. Emotions are the automatic results of man's value judgments integrated by his subconscious; emotions are estimates of that which furthers man's values or threatens them, that which is for him or against him -- lightning calculators giving him the sum of his profit or loss. [bold added]This shows that Kondo's question is a very good one, at least for providing a lead to figuring out what one needs. Elsewhere, Rand helps us see the limits of what our emotions can tell us -- and thus the potential as well as how to get there: An emotion as such tells you nothing about reality, beyond the fact that something makes you feel something. Without a ruthlessly honest commitment to introspection -- to the conceptual identification of your inner states -- you will not discover what you feel, what arouses the feeling, and whether your feeling is an appropriate response to the facts of reality, or a mistaken response, or a vicious illusion produced by years of self-deception... In the field of introspection, the two guiding questions are: "What do I feel?" and "Why do I feel it?"Knowing this, someone, say, unhappy working as a programmer, would thus not chuck his computer -- at least not yet -- knowing he needs it to survive. But the question could still help him make bigger changes that would enable him to eventually do so (or keep it, but only for uses he does enjoy). So I see Kondo's question in a new light. Far from trite, it can be very useful for cleaning up house, and in more than just the literal sense. -- CAVLink to Original
  11. A story about a long-running survey of American religious affiliations in the Daily Mail asks, "Is America Becoming Godless?" This question is understandable: Image via Wikimedia, public domain.The number of Americans who identify as having no religion has risen 266 percent since 1991, to now tie statistically with the number of Catholics and Evangelicals, according to a new survey. People with no religion -- known as "nones" among statisticians -- account for 23.1 percent of the U.S. population, while Catholics make up 23 percent and Evangelicals account for 22.5 percent, according to the General Social Survey.Having just moved back to the South and having seen a few holy roller tee shirts, bumper stickers, and license plates (!) too many, I might be inclined to be skeptical of such a finding. But the following sounds like a very good explanation, based on my own personal experience: Ryan Burge, a political science professor at Eastern Illinois University who analyzed the data, said that experts have several theories about why the number of "nones" has risen so dramatically in recent decades. "One of them is that many people used to lie about what they were," he told DailyMail.com. "Many people were (always) atheist or non-religious, but it was previously culturally unacceptable to not have a religion in America."This comports with what I know of my paternal grandfather, my father, and his brother. My father was Catholic while I grew up, but knew an atheist from the police force. My father, although he mentioned he was a bit afraid of this atheist at first, would eventually become one himself. (He confided these things to me after I told him I was no longer religious during college. None of the rest of my family believes me, indicating that he did not advertise this.) My Dad's father was nominally Baptist, but I have zero recollection of him ever attending a church service that wasn't a funeral or a marriage. My uncle, at least when he was younger, was definitely nonreligious, and occasionally caught flack for it. Once, upon moving to a small town in Mississippi, he was approached, out of the blue, while doing yard work one day some time after he'd settled. An adult male told him the locations of the churches of three different denominations and ended his brief monologue with, "Go to one of them." He didn't, but his story -- along with the disparaging rumors of my favorite high school teacher as an atheist -- indicates that there was social pressure to be religious only a few decades ago. And some of that came from suspicion, even from otherwise decent people. So, yes, in addition to our country getting past the scourge of racism, it may well be getting over the need to hear lip-service to religion. This is a somewhat encouraging development. That said, "nonreligious" is a catch-all term, and says little about what a person actively holds to be true. -- CAV Link to Original
  12. These days, the American dream is more apt to be realized in South America, in places such as Ecuador, Venezuela and Argentina, where incomes are actually more equal today than they are in the land of Horatio Alger. Who's the banana republic now? -- Bernie Sanders (2011) *** Should medical care be run by the government? Two clues remain hidden in plain sight after a pack of American Journalists -- a scent-blind breed of bloodhound -- chased down stories about an aging rock musician and a humanitarian catastrophe. First, it wasn't until I read a John Hinderaker post on Mick Jagger at Power Line that I learned the following: Wow, you might think. That's impressive! We keep hearing about long delays and antiquated care in the National Health Service, and here Jagger is able to get cutting-edge surgery in a matter of days! Oops, never mind. Jagger flew to New York for the operation, a fact that his press representatives don't seem eager to emphasize. [links omitted]To be fair, I don't consume as much news as you might think: I scan headlines from a computer-generated list aggregated from a couple of handfuls of sites most mornings. But still, I have no trouble believing such information would be missing from or buried in most reports. To wit, live (if you can call it that) from Venezuela, comes the following tidbit about the latest Bolivarian Circle of socialist hell: Things are so bad that, according to the report and other sources, patients who go to the hospital need to bring not only their own food but also medical supplies like syringes and scalpels as well as their own soap and water.The word "crisis" occurs thirteen times in this article, while the word count for terms starting with social -- like socialist and socialism -- is zero.You'll have to bring your own in socialist Venezuela. (Image by geudki, via Pixabay, license.) (Access, a favorite buzzword of American leftists discussing medicine, occurs twice, but with the obvious question of whether Venezuelans have "access to medical care" left unasked.) Instead, you get a peppering of quotes treating the cause like some kind of mystery: "The health crisis began in 2012, two years after the economic crisis began in 2010. But it took a drastic turn for the worse in 2017, and the situation now is even more dismal than researchers expected," and "Despite all the headlines about Venezuela's collapse, researchers were still surprised by the scope of the crisis." With journalists resolutely not connecting the dots of all these mysterious crises, I guess I wouldn't blame the researchers for being surprised. It is unconscionable for socialism to get the pass it is getting now when conditions have deteriorated in the latest pet project so quickly that even many teenagers should be able to remember when Venezuela was touted as a paradise. -- CAV Link to Original
  13. I find the following items handy when traveling. 1. In part because we don't live especially close to family, the Van Horns travel quite a bit. One of the things this has caused me to notice over the years is how many poorly-designed bathrooms there are out there. After wondering Is this the first time the builder ever attempted a bathroom? one time too many -- because I had nowhere to put my shampoo or soap that didn't involve picking it up from the tub or floor mid-shower -- I decided to do something about it. That something was to buy a shower caddy bag somewhat like this one that I could just throw into a suitcase and use on the other end as needed. It's on my evolving packing list and I just hang it on the piping for the shower head. 2. I have many more keys than I want to always carry around, and there are things I sometimes want with me that can fit onto a keychain. I can't find my particular key organizer (pictured) for sale any more, but this one is very similar. On one recent road trip, I needed everything here but the pocket knife. (I already keep a similar one in my car's glove box.) It was all on there while I drove, but the house keys and pen drive went to the hotel room safe most of the time. When I'm not traveling, it's nice to be able to separate the house key on those many occasions when everyone is already in the car and someone remembers leaving something in the house. I can leave the engine (and AC!) running for Mrs. Van Horn and the kids while I dash inside. Oh. That thing? It's a pill fob. It's nice to know you have some ibuprofen on hand when you walk into the gate of an amusement park with two kids in the morning... 3. For solo trips or running errands, I often like to listen to podcasts. Unfortunately, I gather these from different providers and dislike the interfaces for most of these, anyway. Enter pCloud, with 10 GB of cloud storage. This freemium service is like adding that amount of storage to any device and is multi-platform. I can gather and organize what I want to listen to on a computer with a real keyboard and then very easily listen to what I want when I want, all with a uniform interface. A nice bonus is that it is stupid simple to transfer photos with it. 4. For picnics and trips to the beach, I appreciate being able to leave my usual watch behind and, of course, open beer. Both are a snap with a bottle-opening watch, similar to this one, that my father-in-law gave me years ago. Its battery recently died, so I effected the temporary repair of setting it to 5:01. -- CAVLink to Original
  14. A Hacker News thread regarding a BBC article about the sunk cost fallacy starts off with what I think is a valuable comment: An interesting twist: sometimes [a project] may be worth finishing purely for the psychological boost of confidence, or other similar meta, 2nd order effects. I don't have a good algorithm for knowing when this is the case, but especially for smaller individual-level projects, I think it is probably not that uncommon. It also seems highly context dependent -- e.g. if one hasn't had a win in a while, it should be a larger consideration. Framed another way: first learn how to finish projects, then learn how to finish the right project. ... The sunk-cost fallacy is a useful tool, but it isn't always easy to apply in practice. This is a great point, and I have even done this in the past -- albeit on a hunch rather than explicitly deciding something like, I want a win, or I want the experience that will come with plowing ahead, anyway. This old Berlitz commercial suddenly seems relevant to me in a new way... Sometimes, one can realize a profit in unexpected ways from something that might be a loss in terms of the original goal. It is good to know that this needn't always occur in retrospect, but can also happen when we don't rush ourselves to cut losses. -- CAV Link to Original
  15. Statistician John Cook describes a phenomenon he often encounters in his consulting practice. He calls it missing information anxiety: He couldn't see the forest -- or the way out -- for the trees. (Image by DarkWorkX, via Pixabay, license.)I often tell clients they don't need information that they think they need. That news may come as a relief, or it may cause anxiety. I may tell a client, for instance, that missing data cannot change a conclusion, so it's not worth waiting for. Whether that brings relief or anxiety depends on whether they believe me. There's a physics demonstration where you have a heavy ball on a long cable. You pull back the ball like a pendulum and let it touch your chin. Then let the ball go and stand still. If you're convinced of the physical laws governing the motion of the ball, you can stand there without flinching. You know that just as it left your chin with zero velocity, it will return with zero velocity... [bold added]This is a valuable point. Mathematics is highly abstract, and the contention that no more data is needed might sound ridiculous to a non-mathematician. (This problem is not restricted to mathematics, but it is surely common among similarly abstract disciplines.) Cook speaks of putting "your own own face on the line before asking them to do the same," which is a good metaphor for tying one's abstractions to reality. Or, as one so often hears in communication advice: "Show, don't tell." -- CAVLink to Original
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