Thursday, March 10, 2005

Dealing with uncertainties

If we knew everything there was to know, choices would be fairly easy. But, we don't, so they usually aren't. So, the trick is to figure out good ways to act in the face of uncertainties.

I have no idea whether there's a good general approach to take to this problem, but I know what I would want people to do (and would do myself) in certain specific situations.

Is driving while talking on a cell phone dangerous? Some studies seem to indicate so (even for hands-free models). Presumably, some folks (maybe even folks not in the employ of a cell phone company) think there is some uncertainty in these findings ... because even people who are aware of these studies seem to drive while talking on their phones! But, in the face of uncertainty here, I'd prefer that drivers err on the side of caution!

How real is reality TV? Could these people actually be as stupid/narcissitic/toadying/drunk as they appear to be in this show? Unless the editing is really obvious, there will be some uncertainty about this. (Yes, even if you're one of the people in the reality show -- Omarosa? Trishelle? I'm looking at you!) When in doubt? Assume that Mark Burnett's crack editing team may have at least altered the magnitude.

The lottery -- somebody has to win it! Sure, it's not impossible that you'll win the lottery, so you can't be certain that you won't. But you probably shouldn't be buying the major appliances on the basis of the non-impossibility of winning.

(Yes, it's the petty stuff today. It doesn't mean it's not relevant.)


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