Do you have any marketable skills?

stacking-beer-cansIf you asked 100 people “Do you consider yourself a success?”, I’d expect 90 of them to answer one of two ways: a) Yes b) Depends on how you define success. (Which sounds like “no” to me)

During my working years (I never thought in terms of ‘career’) I don’t recall thinking in terms of success. My defining question was “Am I enjoying what I’m doing?” Yes. I did, I am. Did I have a system? I would have said, no, I was just lucky.

Reading Scott Adams’ How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big got me thinking about success.

“The best way to increase your odds of success — in a way that might look like luck to others — is to systematically become good, but not amazing, at the types of skills that work well together and are highly useful for just about any job.”

Adams provides a list of skills in which he thinks every adult should gain a working knowledge.

  • Public speaking
  • Psychology
  • Business Writing
  • Accounting
  • Design (the basics)
  • Conversation
  • Overcoming shyness
  • Second language
  • Golf
  • Proper grammar
  • Persuasion
  • Technology (hobby level)
  • Proper voice technique

In the book he makes his case for each of these skills. As I read, I evaluated my own knowledge of these skills.

  • Public speaking – Got my BA in Speech and Theater, taking lots of public speaking course along the way
  • Psychology – a course or two
  • Business writing – several books and some courses
  • Accounting – almost zero knowledge
  • Design – Yeah. Spent the last 10 or 15 years creating and websites for the company and clients
  • Conversation – co-hosted daily radio show for a dozen years. Hundreds of interviews
  • Overcoming shyness – college and community theater; 10,000 hours of airtime on the radio
  • Second language – nope
  • Golf – nope
  • Proper grammar – writing courses, public speaking, radio, all contributed
  • Persuasion – a couple of course in college; wrote countless radio commercials
  • Technology – geek wannabe. Got the computer/internet bug early and never lost it
  • Proper voice technique – see above

Turns out I had a pretty good handle on 9 of the 13 skills in Adams’ list. Not by design, mind you, just luck. Looking back, however, I can see how these skills combined and overlapped to make me well-suited to the work I wound up doing.

I can here all those zippers coming down, ready to piss on any idea that has Scott Adams’ name on it but I’d challenge you to read his book first. This little bit is just one idea in a couple of hundred pages.

I read a butt-load of management books during the first half of my working life but stopped after reading The Dilbert Principle and seeing myself lampooned on every page. Never read another management or self-help book, until this one.

Immortality

book-coverThe Quest to Live Forever and How It Drives Civilization, by Stephen Cave (Amazon)

The Mortality Paradox – On the one hand, our powerful intellects come inexorably to the conclusion that we, like all other living things around us, must one day die. Yet on the other, the one thing that these minds cannot imagine is that very state of nonexistence; it is literally inconceivable. Death therefore presents itself as both inevitable and impossible.”

The Terror Management Theory – We must live in the knowledge that the worst thing that can possibly happen to us one day surely will. […] We have created institutions, philosophies and religions to protect us from this terror by denying or at least distracting us from the finality of death.”

“Immortality is not for the weak and foolish.”

“”Longevity Escape velocity” – living long enough to live forever”

“”Computational Resurrection” – the rerunning of software that is your mind on a new piece of hardware so that you might live again.”

“The Soul – the most influential single idea in the history of Western civilization”

“Whether or not we literally believe we have a soul that will go to heaven, the cosmic significance we ascribe to ourselves as unique individuals reassures us that we transcend mere biology. […] We are creating a myth of immunity to extinction.”

“Buddhists do believe in some essential part of you that survives the body in order to be reincarnated in accordance with the laws of karma. This is pure consciousness, stripped of all memories and convictions and the rest of the accumulated baggage of a lifetime. The Dali Lama describes it as a “continuum of awareness.””

“In Hinduism and Buddhism there is an undercurrent of recognition that the individual mind cannot continue without the body. Beyond the theory of reincarnation, which requires a soul robust enough to be punished for its past sins, there are hints of something more radical. Nirvana, for example, literally means “extinguishing” or “blowing out.” But what is it that is being “blown out” like a candle? Some Buddhists say worldly desires. Others, however, go further and believe it is the self that is extinguished. For some in the ascetic tradition, the source of worldly suffering is not just being in the world–it is being at all. Liberation therefore means to cease to be an individual altogether, or as the Hindus put it, to become one with the all, the Brahman.”

“We have already concluded you have no soul — no unchanging essence or immutable inner core. We could go further and say that there is, in fact, nothing that is the “real you.” You are just a collection of disparate thoughts, memories, sense impressions and the like, all bundled up together in a package we conveniently label a person. What is more, all these disparate parts are continually changing,as some things are forgotten and others learned, opinions changed and new memories formed. The question is, then, if you are such an ever-changing bundle, what does it mean for “you” to survive?”

“Psychologist Roy Baumeister has estimated the length of time for which most of us can expect to be remembered as seventy years. He points out that not many people can even *name* their great-grandparents.”

“People in modern cities long ago lost the ability to survive independently—we are utterly reliant on a complex higher level system for clean water, food, clothing, shelter, medicine, security and energy. Like the specialized cells of our bodies, which have given up their independence for the greater strength and security offered by life as part of a macro-organism, we have each given up our independence to be part of strong and secure superorganisms.”

“Individual humans are merely temporary forms taken by the single, shifting web of life on earth. If humans are not really separate things, then their births and deaths are also not real, but simply one way of seeing the rhythms of life.”

“The great social-reform movements of the last centuries — emancipation of slaves, equality between sexes and races, social welfare and son on — arose only when the preoccupation with the next world began to lose its grip on Western society. […] If this life here on earth is regarded merely as a series of tests for a place in another life, then it is necessarily devalued.”

“There are as I see it two sets of problems: on the one hand, the boredom and apathy that would result from having done and seen everything there is to do— that is, from having already lived a very long time—and on the other hand, the paralysis that would result from having an infinite future in which to do any further things. Both these problems, the backward looking and the forward-looking, threaten to suck the meaning out of life and leave one wishing for a terminal deadline.”

“Death is the source of all our deadlines.”

“Life as we know it may be too short to watch daytime TV, but eternity wouldn’t be.[…] Given infinity, time would lose its worth. And once time is worthless, it becomes impossible to make rational decisions about how to spend it. […] If civilization exists to aid our preparation into the future, then if that perpetuation were guaranteed, civilization would be redundant. […] Civilization exists to give us immortality, but if it ever succeeded it would fall apart.”

“We do not “see” or experience death; death is the end of all experience. […] Neither you nor I can ever literally *be* dead. Living things cannot be dead things. To talk of someone “being dead” is just a shorthand for saying they have ceased to exist. […] We can never be aware of (life) having an end — we can never know anything but life.”

“If you are happy now, then you are happy always, as there is only now.”

Seth Godin on Zero Unemployment

I know it’s sappy, but Seth Godin can give me goose bumps. Excerpts from recent post:

In a marketplace that’s open to just about anyone, the only people we hear are the people we choose to hear. […] The more valuable someone’s attention is, the harder it is to earn.

Management is almost diametrically opposed to leadership. Management is about generating yesterday’s results, but a little faster or a little more cheaply.

For a long time to come the masses will still clamor for cheap and obvious and reliable. But the people you seek to lead, the people who are helping to define the next thing and the interesting frontier, these people want your humanity, not your discounts.

Management only exists to compensate for its own poor hiring decisions

“One of the interesting aspects of better global communications, better access to information, and better mobility is that collectively it reduces the risk of making hiring mistakes. When employers were limited to hiring people who lived nearby, and the only information at their disposal was lie-filled resumes, every growing company would necessarily absorb a lot of losers. But now that entrepreneurs can hire the best people from anywhere in the world, we have for the first time in human history the ability to create teams so capable they require no management structure. That’s new.”

“Management only exists to compensate for its own poor hiring decisions. The Internet makes it easier to locate and then work with capable partners. Therefore, the need for management will shrink – at least for some types of businesses – because entrepreneurs have the tools to make fewer hiring mistakes in the first place. Management won’t entirely go away, but as technology makes it easier to form competent teams without at least one disruptive or worthless worker in the group, the need for management will continue to decline.”

Scott Adams on “management.” I hope you’ll read his full post here.

Success improves company culture

We spent a lot of time talking and thinking about “culture” at the company I worked for. How to keep it, how to foster it, how to define it. Looking back, I think Scott Adams is probably right.

“Company culture is another area that I think the experts get backwards. The common belief is that you need a good company culture to create success. But isn’t it more likely that companies with awesome employees get both a good culture and success at the same time? A good corporate culture is a byproduct of doing everything right; it’s not the cause of success as much as the outcome. Success improves culture more than a good culture can cause success.”

The post-Post Office epoch

First, go directly to MediaFile and read John C. Abell’s brilliant post there. I’m way over the line by posting his full piece here but it is so good I don’t want to risk the link rot.

THE FUTURE – Has it been only 30 years since the U.S. Postal Service, bowing to a hostile Congress, sought to stay alive by ending Saturday delivery of first-class mail — and setting in motion one of the most remarkable and rapid cultural and infrastructure revolutions in history?

To mark the anniversary of the post-Post Office epoch, let’s relive its history. The announcement in February 2013 that regular Saturday mail delivery would be ending became a touchstone moment. The Economist reported that America was doomed. Liberals decried the “decimation” of an institution they insisted bound us together as a nation. Conservatives, who had applauded a Republican-led Congress’s insistence on forcing the Post Office to make enormous pension plan pre-payments, reveled in the prospect they’d transformed the institution.

The fight was never far from the surface. When it became a 2016 presidential campaign issue, it ensured that the next president would have to do … something. But no candidate committed to anything more than “reform.”

When President Hillary Clinton was elected, progressives were relieved — but even they had no idea how audacious she would be.

In her first inaugural address, Clinton seized the moment to advance what she called “Manifest Digital Destiny” — a.k.a. the Hillary Doctrine. That would be: The Internet is a birthright of American citizens. In creating a right to the Internet, she would have an almost Lincolnian impact on the nation for generations to come: Affordable, ubiquitous broadband would set us all free. To hasten the transition, she provided a bit of incentive: The Post Office, hobbling for years, was to be shuttered within her first term. The new broadband network would take its place.

To make it happen, Clinton knew she’d need some muscle. That’s why she made Susan “The Enforcer” Crawford chairwoman of the Federal Communications Commission. Crawford had once been Obama’s special assistant for science, technology and innovation policy. But it was Crawford’s relentless, populist campaign against the “telco cartel,” crystallized in her 2012 book, Captive Audience: The Telecom Industry and Monopoly Power in the New Gilded Age, that made her the choice for the job. In the book, Crawford argued that the United States had squandered its enormous lead in the digital revolution — and that communications companies were squarely to blame.

It wasn’t long before the wireless companies understood the future of the grid ‑ namely, that it wasn’t the ATM that it had been. It was clear what Clinton and Crawford — whom Matt Drudge had dubbed the Digital Duo — meant when they spoke of “taking a fresh, comprehensive look” at spectrum policy. Once the corporate sector’s hold on broadband was loosened, various new entries pulled together, out of self-interest, to bathe the nation in cheap, plentiful connectivity. Everyone benefited: The wealthy received their multiple data plans combined into one, much cheaper plan. The poor received tax credits to pay for service whose cost was capped by law.

Once people could connect, they needed something to connect with. Of all industries, it was the newspapers that did the most to meet the hardware need. (Occasionally, desperation breeds innovation.) At the 2017 Newspaper Association of American convention, a consortium of newspaper publishers declared the death of print “by this time next year,” and put the Associated Press — sort of the chief operating officer of the American newspaper industry, anyway — in charge of the logistics.

The AP’s plan was bold: Newspapers were to liquidate all vestiges of the old era. Printing plants were melted down, newsprint shipments were nixed, and fleets of trucks were decommissioned. The proceeds more than paid for their initiative to put a Newspapers of America-branded tablet in the hands of every homeowner, free of charge. (Like the National Biscuit Company before it, Newspapers of America would later just make their name NewAmerica, since nobody remembered what a newspaper was.) They even offered hands-on tech support to make sure Aunt Bea could Skype and send e-mail — and hadn’t forgotten to subscribe to the local news app.

The pieces were now in place to eliminate the hand delivery of nearly everything. Everything that could be digitized now was — from legal documents to personal mail to invoices — because it had to be, the life-sucking crutch that was the Post Office now gone.

Naturally FedEx, UPS and the other package giants were the first to gain, aided by an innovation from Jeff Bezos, serving as honorary Post-Postmaster General. Bezos took a cue from stamps and simplified the laborious FedEx form, replacing them with personalized QR codes. When scanned, the code would automatically deduct the cost of shipping from a pre-registered PayPal account.

Post-P.O. Box franchises also flourished, with Amazon, which already had a locker system in place in big cities, taking the lead. But then, Starbucks got in the game, and when working people realized they could send their mail to their local coffee shop and pick it up on a coffee break, it was easy to let go of the very idea of home delivery. Starbucks used its mail reception as a loss leader – if you were coming for your package, you were coming for a latte.

Nevertheless, the private mail companies soon saw their revenue drop as people adjusted to the new era. Paying bills became frictionless. Banks saw the opportunity: They had always pushed their e-payment services — a way to keep customers “loyal” by making it difficult for them to leave. But then it dawned on them to be post-ost offices as well, especially to receive all their depositors’ bills, paying them up to pre-set amounts, providing overdraft insurance if necessary on the fly (and on the cheap).

Of course, catalog companies were bereft until Google stepped up and digitized all new catalogs gratis with spare bandwidth from the Google Books Library Project (those AdSense profits come in handy). Those pop-up alerts from the J. Peterman catalog on that tablet provided by your local paper warm the inner grandma in us all of us.

Sure, lots of people still grumbled about the end of curbside service. (Even in 2013, some people were still ranting about the lack of drive-in movie theaters). It’s a good thing Andreessen Horowitz Gore saw the opportunity to back a little startup called the “Post-Post Office Squad” — founded by Mark Zuckerberg. Zuck pivoted from what turned out to be a social network fad to get into on-demand mail delivery for the masses.

The P-POSse — that’s what they call those college kids — offered individualized delivery service and smartphone-enabled locker management. (FedEx later bought it for $1 billion, having phased out its antiquated delivery squads. Zuckerberg later said, “Finally, I don’t have to lose sleep over that Instagram purchase anymore.”)

But for most, 3D printers were enough. The industry’s fax-era tagline – you ring, they render – helped the technology go mainstream, along with major price drops. What private companies couldn’t deliver, a printer could create.

As everyone now knows, it’s been smooth sailing for decades. But there is still a legacy to the USPS. Most of the smaller post offices were recommissioned decades ago. But the big ones remain in some big cities. They’ve been turned into Apple stores.

Just the other day some urban archaeologists took a tour of Grand Central Station in New York — one of the grand palaces from the days of the USPS (Grand Central Station, not the Grand Central Terminal devoted to bullet trains). They found a relic — one of those one of the original Newspapers of America-branded tablets. As the group leader told the New York Post News Times: “It still worked.”

What if you don’t want to be a manager?

From a post by Anne Kreamer at HBR.org. It’s probably just my own heightened awareness, but a bunch of really timely articles have found their way to me in recent weeks.

“Companies continue to cling to the notion that one of the only mechanisms they have to acknowledge employees’ talent is to make them managers and then to continue to promote them into ever-higher levels of management — reflecting the misguided assumption that being good at something also means being able to (and wanting to) manage others doing the same thing.”

“As corporate executive I felt like I had to pretend to be something I wasn’t — I didn’t like being a manager, but I was a manager, so I had to appear to be interested in all the stuff that went along with being a manager. This is something social scientists call “emotion labor” — what you experience when you feel obliged to act differently from your natural inclinations.”

Passages

shawshank-tunnel

It’s difficult not to be somewhat introspective about work in these final few days. Our jobs are woven tightly into the fabric of our lives (double-knit for me) and I’m trying to be mindful of the passage.

Education
Study hard in school so you can get in a good college and then get a good job some day (and/or stay out of Viet Nam). I did okay in school but I can’t say it had a lot to do with the (2) jobs I’ve had since 1972. I was lucky.

Dress for the job you want, not the job you have
I wore t-shirts (Hawaiian for dress-up) and jeans during my DJ days. Suits and ties during my management years. These days the employee manual says business casual. Last few weeks I’ve introduced Short-Timer Sloppy, with Coffee Shop Casual launching on Tuesday.

Time
Theoretically, I might never set a wake-up alarm ever again. Or have to be somewhere at a particular time. Three-day weekends lose their magic power. Can you take a vacation if you don’t work? Is every day a holiday? Is that good, or bad? If you have one or two weeks of vacation, you try to get to your destination as quickly as possible… and cram in as much fun as as you can… before racing back to the job. What’s it like when time is no longer a factor?

Identity
This is probably different for everyone, but it’s easy to let your job become who you are. Never a good idea. I’m looking forward to meeting someone and answering the “What do you do?” question with, “Nothing. I don’t do anything. I just am.” I shredded my company business cards to avoid accidently handing one of those out. I’m hoping for a nice, clean break with the job.

Friends/Acquaintances
This one might be a challenge for me. I enjoyed my work so much I didn’t cultivate non-work friends as well as I might have. While I am technically adept enough to tele-commute, I seldom did because I liked being around the gang at the office. That will be difficult to replace. We’ll call it a growth opportunity.

“The user should have a choice”

That’s the opinion of Phil Atkinson, the head of IT for the company I work for. The choice to which he refers is whether to work on a Mac or a PC.

The subject came up when I noticed a stack of new MacBook Airs in the IT area. “Just wait till next week,” I was told. “We’ll have a bunch more.”

Since the Dawn of Digital Time, the IT gods purchased and deployed no-nonsense PC clones (like the brown lace-up choose your mom made you wear when you were a kid). The deciding factors were cost and ease of maintenance for the network guys.

And then one day employees started bringing their personal computers (always a Mac) to work, rather than endure a life on Windows. I was one of those employees back in 2006. The PC was connected to the network for Outlook and all the rest, but for anything fun or creative, I turned to the Mac.

As others saw what the Mac could do, a few more started showing up. At first it was some of the IT guys who opted for Mac’s and then a couple of senior management types with the juice to get what they wanted.

And just a few years later, there’s that stack of Mac’s with more on the way. What the fuck?

Cloud computing played a part in this evolution. You could do stuff without even being connected to the company network.

The iPhone and the iPad, of course. Employees were buying smart phones and loving them. “Uh, you can keep the BlackBerry, I’m cool.”

Where many (most?) IT departments would have circled the wagons and refused to support anything but those lovely beige H-P’s, our guys understood their role to be one of support, not impediment. If employees want to purchase and use their own hardware, let’s try to find a way to make that work.

Not so very long ago, most raised-on-Windows employees would have been afraid to learn a new operating system. Apple is changing that. Everybody knows how to use a web browser. And most of us are getting pretty familiar with apps.

Microsoft Office? No question, still a big factor. But more for my generation than the new ones.

The workplace is changing. Do I need and office with a desk with a big black phone on it? Or can I get just as much done from home or the coffee shop?

I can’t wait to see what happens next. Whatever it might be, our IT guys are trying to make it easier and more fun.

Thinking, Fast and Slow

Excerpts from Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman.

Most impressions and thoughts arise in your conscious experience without your knowing how they got there.

People tend to assess the relative importance of issues by the ease with which they are retrieved from memory — and this is largely determined by the extent of coverage of in the media.

I describe mental life by the metaphor of two agents, called System 1 and System 2, which respectively produce fast and slow thinking. The intuitive System 1 is more influential than your experience tells you, and it is the secret author of many of the choices and judgements you make.

We can be blind to the obvious, and we are also blind to our blindness.

When people believe a conclusion is true, they are also very likely to believe arguments that appear to support it, even when these arguments are unsound.

Cognition is embodied; you think with your body, not only with your brain.

A reliable way to make people believe in falsehoods is frequent repetition, because familiarity is not easily distinguished from truth.

Understanding a statement must begin with an attempt to believe it.

Contrary to the rules of philosophers of science, who advise testing hypotheses by trying to refute them, people (and scientists, quite often) seek data that are likely to be compatible with the beliefs they currently hold.

The world in our heads is not a precise replica of reality; our expectations about the frequency of events are distorted by the prevalence and emotional intensity of the messages to which we are exposed.

success = talent + luck
great success = a little more talent + a lot of luck

Our mind is strongly biased toward casual explanations and does not deal well with “mere statistics.”

We humans constantly fool ourselves by constructing flimsy accounts of the past and believing they are true.

You cannot help dealing with the limited information you have as if it were all there is to know. Our comforting conviction that the world makes sense rests on a secure foundation: our almost unlimited ability to ignore our ignorance.

In everyday language, we apply the word ‘know’ only when what is known is true and can be shown to be true. We can know something only if it is true and knowable.

For some of our most important beliefs we have no evidence at all, except that people we love and trust hold these beliefs. Considering how little we know, the confidence we have in our beliefs is preposterous — and it is also essential.

Hindsight Bias – You cannot help dealing with the limited information you have as if it were all there is to know. Our comforting conviction that the world makes sense rests on a secure foundation: Our almost unlimited ability to ignore our ignorance.

A general limitation of the human mind is its imperfect ability to reconstruct past states of knowledge, or beliefs that have changed. Once you adopt a new view of the world (or of any part of it), you immediately lose much of your ability to recall what you used to believe before your mind changed.

“Because luck plays a large role, the quality of leadership and management practices cannot be inferred reliably from observations of success. And even if you had perfect foreknowledge that a CEO has brilliant vision and extraordinary competence, you still would be unable to predict how the company will perform with much better accuracy than the flip of a coin. On average, the gap in corporate profitability and stock returns between the outstanding firms and the less successful firms studied in Built to Last shrank to almost nothing in the period following the study. The average profitability of the companies identified in the famous In Search of Excellence dropped sharply as well within a short time.”

“The brains of humans and other animals contain a mechanism that is designed to give priority to bad news.”

Premortem – When the organization has almost come to an important decision but has not formally committed itself, Klein proposes gathering for a brief session a group of individuals who are knowledgeable about the decision. The premise of the session is a short speech: Imagine that we are a year into the future. We implemented the plan as it now exists. The outcome was a disaster. Please take 5 to 10 minutes to write a brief history of that disaster.

The Planning Fallacy – Most of us view the world as more benign than it really is, our own attributes as more favorable than they truly are, and the goals we adopts as more achievable than they are likely to be.

Optimistic individuals play a disproportionate role in shaping our lives.

Anyone who has been in the business world for a bit will recognize “the planning fallacy.” I just didn’t know it had a name.

When forecasting the outcomes of risky projects, executives too easily fall victim to the planning fallacy. In its grip, they make decisions based on delusional optimism rather than on a rational weighting of gains, losses, and probabilities. They overestimate benefits and underestimate costs. They spin scenarios of success while overlooking the potential for mistakes and miscalculations. As a result, they pursue initiatives that are unlikely to come in on budget or on time or to deliver the expected returns — or even to be completed.

In this view, people often (but not always) take on risky projects because they are overly optimistic about the odds they face. I will return to this idea several times in this book—it probably contributes to an explanation of why people litigate, why they start wars, and why they open small businesses.

How important is the CEO? – Because luck plays a large role, the quality of leadership and management practices cannot be inferred reliably from observations of success. And even if you had perfect foreknowledge that a CEO has brilliant vision and extraordinary competence, you still would be unable to predict how the company will perform with much better accuracy than the flip of a coin. On average, the gap in corporate profitability and stock returns between the outstanding firms and the less successful firms studied in Built to Last shrank to almost nothing in the period following the study. The average profitability of the companies identified in the famous In Search of Excellence dropped sharply as well within a short time.”

Availability cascade – William Eastery calls Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow, “one of the greatest and most engaging collections of insights into the human mind I have read.” I only mention this so I’ll have a reason to link to Professor Easterly’s review below. Tell me if this description of an “availability cascade” sounds familiar:

“An availability cascade is a self-sustaining chain of events, which may start from media reports of a relatively minor event and lead up to public’ panic and large-scale government action. On some occasions, a media story about a risk catches the attention of a segment of the public, which becomes aroused and worried. This emotional reaction becomes a story in itself, prompting additional coverage in the media, which in turn produces greater concern and involvement. The cycle is sometimes sped along deliberately by “availability entrepreneurs,” individuals or organizations who work to ensure a continuous flow of worrying news. The danger is increasingly exaggerated as the media compete for attention-grabbing headlines. Scientists and others who try to dampen the increasing fear and revulsion attract little attention, most of it hostile: anyone who claims that the danger is overstated is suspected of association with a “heinous cover-up.” The issue becomes politically important because it is on everyone’s mind, and the response of the political system is guided by the intensity of public sentiment. The availability cascade has now reset priorities. Other” risks, and other ways that resources could be applied for the public good, all have faded into the background.”

“The dominance of conclusions over arguments is most pronounced where emotions are involved. The psychologist Paul Slovic has proposed an affect heuristic in which people let their likes and dislikes determine their beliefs about the world. Your political preference determines the arguments that you find compelling. If you like the current health policy, you believe its benefits are substantial and its costs more manageable than the costs of alternatives. If you are a hawk in your attitude toward other nations, you probably think they are relatively weak and likely to submit to your country’s will. If you are a dove, you probably think they are strong and will not be easily coerced. Your emotional attitude to such things as irradiated food red meat, nuclear power, tattoos, or motorcycles drives your beliefs aboul their benefits and their risks. If you dislike any of these things, you probably believe that its risks are high and its benefits negligible.”

“A simple rule can help: before an issue is discussed, all members of the committee should be asked to write a very brief summary of their position. This procedure makes good use of the value of the diversity of knowledge and opinion in the group. The standard practice of open discussion gives too much weight to the opinions of those who speak early and assertively, causing others to line up behind them.

Experience vs Memory