Saturday, August 08, 2015

Thoughts of the Day

Three quick thoughts today:

1. Did Donald Trump’s presidential campaign finally jump the shark with his rude comments about Megyn Kelly?  I really hope so. It attracts your attention in the same way that a roadside crash does.  But it is much more important for potential voters to learn more about what serious candidates think about the issues.

2.  On All Things Considered Weekend, there was a story about some homeowners in California who fought a plan last year to use a slow, controlled burn to remove the dry brush and branches. They didn’t want the smell of smoke ruining their evening breeze.  The result is serious wildfires that are costing the state millions and threatening to burn down their homes.

At first, I thought this was what they deserved.  At second, I realized this was a great example of the time discounting bias. We evolved to ignore any benefits or costs too far in the future, because in our evolution on the savannah those benefits and costs were likely never to happen.  Short term thinking was adaptive for survival. And in our modern lives, we can’t shake this instinct to grab the one bird now and forget about the two birds in the bush.

3. My Stoic philosophy lesson of the day had an interesting recommendation. This is just part of a broader theme, so don’t think it is a shallow message. But it has some resonance to it.  He suggests starting the day imagining the worst things that could happen that day. Then, when some less bad things really happen, they will seems trivial in comparison. It will prepare you to cope.