Zingers II

Regarding the two choice-making minds, involuntary and voluntary

Zingers are compact bits of reality we have found to be useful as dictums, accumulated while making progress above the mentor line. Zingers serve multiple purposes:

  • Snack food for your mind
  • Prodding your curiosity
  • Sound bites about prudence
  • Introducing insights concerning the allocation matter
  • Understanding the scope of the A/B expedition
  • A cheat sheet for problem solving
  • Introducing the nomenclature

The zingers in this gallery are presented in four groups:

  1. Precautionary for Prudentia, a checklist for you to zip through when you wish to allocate your efforts informed by evidence and risk, prudent
  2. Attributes of Prudentia : her strengths and blind spots in her rationality
  3. Attributes of Brainiac: his strengths and imprudence for task action selection
  4. Wisdom, a collection of general truths about prudent choice-making you can take to the bank



  • Your passions are activated by swift and stealthy mechanisms of action unknown to you, which act before you can recognize them
  • Casual superficial thought is the norm. You live by “impressions”  knowing nothing about the sources or origins of your opinions
  • Those who avoid the labor of conscious thinking cannot make appropriate decisions, be intelligent
  • Training/coaching: praise is followed by decline. Flogging is followed by improvement. Right observation, wrong conclusion
  • The mind prefers causal over statistics
  • You cannot trust your intuition to reflect your interests
  • Decisions are not attuned to experience but to the memory of the experience. I am my remembering self. My experiencing self who directs my living is like a stranger to me. Your experiencing self does not have a voice, the remembering self, your subconscious, is in control
  • The format in which risks are expressed opens an area for “clandestine” manipulation and exploitation, ala FB
  • Narrow framing produces bad selections
  • Most feelings follow the description of the reality not the actual reality itself
  • Important choices are commonly made by inconsequential features of the situation
  • Intuition has a cost which is born by individuals who make bad choices and by a society that feels obligated to help them
  • The framing of outcomes induces decision values that have no counterpart in actual experience
  • Social status values override objective risk-taking
  • You don’t learn about regression from experience
  • We have unlimited ability to ignore our ignorance
  • Flawed histories shape views of the world and our expectations of the future
  • A good narrative creates the illusion of inevitability
  • We know far less about the past than we believe we do
  • Running on hindsight invokes outcome bias. The worse the consequences, the greater the hindsight bias
  • The world is never as tidy, predictable, simple, and coherent as it is modelled by your subconscious
  • When you have only one big thing, you can’t admit error
  • Your subconscious Brainiac creates coherence where there is none
  • Management claims intuitive power in zero-validity situations by pulling rank. Every time it makes matters worse.
  • Changes in quantity change emotional experience
  • Imposing losses on people invokes revenge, reciprocity, compensating for an inalienable right violation
  • Your consciousness mistakenly thinks it is in charge and that it knows the reason for its choices
  • Watch out: people don’t even think of sunk costs as losses, but administrative overhead
  • Distrust anyone who doesn’t know how he chooses action. It is the basis of trust
  • Biases are systematic streaming errors GIGO

One Self:

  1. Intuitive fast deciding keeping score
  2. Effortful: slow, logical
  3. Goal compulsion?

Two selves: experiencing self does the living

  1. Act in the world of theory
  2. Act in the real world dynamics, remembering self
  • Media coverage warps estimates of calamity to vividly exacerbate fear
  • Self-reliance comes before responsibility can be authentic
  • Most impressions and thoughts arise in your conscious experience without your knowing how they got there
  • Your intuition is good with averages and bad with sums
  • The upper hierarchy operates exclusively on Brainiac bias, focused on social status by opinion
  • The environment of the moment brackets choice-making
  • For what you like, you reduce your estimates of its risk. Experts are prone to the same biases
  • Expert bias is inferior to algorithm
  • Intuitions manifest much too fast to have confidence in them
  • Fear increases the appeal of authoritarian ideas
  • Useful diagnosis requires a precise nomenclature
  • Prone to misapply causal thinking and make errors in effort allocation
  • Expected utility theory is refused
  • Risk averse in domain of losses and gains
  • For risk assessment, you over-weight unlikely events and their probabilities
  • Risk assessment is not reality bound
  • You are prone to pick the option you dislike the least
  • Threats, fears impact choice
  • Terrorism introduces an availability cascade
  • In hierarchical behavior, the reference point is not about the real problem
  • When incoherence in task action choices becomes undiscussable, you’re in Plan A
  • Angst frames choices. It sucks up energy that could otherwise be allocated to goal-setting and seeking
  • Pay attention to what the Establishment doesn’t want you to know
  • Here’s the results I want. Follow the company policy in delivering it on time or you’re fired
  • Gatekeeping GIGO-informed choices with your conscious mind creates the opportunity to reach and sustain a better way of life.
  • Drive, force, coercion, command by those in authority, regardless of intent, is received by the workforce as extortion. Comply with my orders or be punished. Distrust is the result
  • “Drive” takes away inalienable rights, prevents a square deal, and promotes insecurity angst.
  • The basic strategy of the Establishment rests on making sure you don’t get wise to how it makes your choices.
  • Risk biases include ignoring duration
  • Safety by regulation to rules is a notorious flop, exploited by the insurance Establishment

It is the beginning of wisdom when you recognize that the best you can do is choose which ideology you want to live by. It’s persistent and aggravated imbecility to pretend you can live without any. Wallace Stegner (1954)


Operational aids

  • The failure of invariance is pervasive and robust
  • Vividness changes probability-based choices
  • Your moral intuitions are not internally consistent. Prudentia has no moral intuitions of her own
  • Justice is infected by predictable incoherence
  • Retrospective assessments are systematically different and biased
  • Being rational means being objective, less “warmth”
  • Any line of reasoning that makes thinking easier will be favored
  • The test of rationality is internal consistency in allocation of effort
  • Familiarity is equated to truth, forming truth illusions
  • Situational factors rule
  • Confidence is a feeling developing from a coherence of evidence and the ease of processing it
  • Short term anticipation and long-term forecasting are different tasks
  • Logic does not apply when there is lack of an objective metric
  • The ease by which events come to mind matters to overt choice-making
  • The peak and the end override memory – not duration
  • If you don’t distinguish memories from experience – cognitive illusion
  • Displacing bad beliefs is assigned to your conscious mind
  • Logical emotionally-equivalent statements evoke different reactions
  • People are genetically predisposed to choose social status as personal goal
  • Reframing is effortful
  • When there is no goal for navigation, carry on with the herd and don’t talk about it
  • In Plan B luck does not play a commanding role
  • Goal setting is framing the problem. How do you frame for Plan B when it never existed?
  • There is no choice about natural law and the randomness of disturbances
  • You have the choice of what to put on the network and you can filter what you retrieve.
  • The biases that shape personal choices are supplemented by biases that shape social allocations of effort.
  • When you fix the fundamentals, positive results are instant, that’s how you know the impasse was psychological.


All civilization has been the work of aristocracies. Why, it would be much more true to say the upkeep of the aristocracy has been the hard work of all civilizations. Lord Curzon (1911)

Curiosity-informed prudence.

Your subconscious mind

  • When your subconscious mind, Brainiac, is your guide for allocation of efforts, errors of intuitive choice and judgment are inevitable and the consequences inescapable
  • Brainiac is gullible and biased to believe without evidence
  • Priming phenomena are expressed by Brainiac. Prudentia, has no access to them
  • The subconscious mind is eager to identify agents, assign them personality traits and specific intentions and view their actions as expressing individual propensities
  • Since your subconscious, drunk on its infallibility, is never in doubt, it does not keep track of alternatives
  • The subconscious mind’s mental models of reality, although coherent, are always oversimplifications of reality
  • First impressions, always by speedy Brainiac, create bias, directing attention and searching memory
  • In Brainiac, the subconscious, the “loss” weight amount is 2X the weight of the identical gains
  • With Brainiac, conclusions come before their justification
  • Mental models of reality are retained in Brainiac’s associative memory for distinguishing surprise from normal events
  • Brainiac keeps a running account of emotional balance
  • Brainiac ignores contrary evidence and intermediate probabilities
  • Brainiac is context dependent, gripped by an illusion of skill
  • Brainiac continually assesses the situation without giving anything specific attention
  • Brainiac, System 1, is a cognitive minefield, not educable.
  • Brainiac, a brilliant regulator of your endocrine system, cannot intelligently allocate your efforts towards your best interest
  • Leave it to Brainiac and you will suffer errors in task-action choices. You won’t believe that most events in your life are random while your faith in small samples will be unlimited
  • Brainiac, System 1, evaluates events as normal or surprise in less than a centisecond, triggering intuitive judgments without your vote or your knowledge.
  • Most of your daily menu of choices is prepackaged by Brainiac before your gatekeeper Prudentia knows that an allocation of your effort has to be made
  • Since Brainiac is not reality bound, his choices are not reality bound
  • Racing ahead with Brainiac to make sense of the world introduces systematic error
    • Lessons learned are not absorbed
Socrates meets all the ingredients of prudence in one sentence. That’s why he’s Socrates and we’re not.


  • There are distinctive patterns in the errors people make from biases, which are predictable in particular circumstances
  • In significant matters, the fact that the cognitive effort to be reality-informed is aversive is proof positive of its necessity
  • In small samples there’s nothing to explain
  • Personal control of biases is wishful thinking
  • All communication is designed to obtain desired effort from the target
  • A surprised subconscious is how we understand the world and what we expect from it
  • Biased recruitment of thoughts, guarantor of GIGO
  • Availability heuristic judging frequency by the ease which instances come to mind. Substituting alternate questions produces systematic error.
  • Brainiac sets expectations and is surprised when they don’t materialize. Prudentia can reset expectations on the fly
  • Regression to the mean – has no causal explanation. The effects hide in plain sight
  • CFOs are unaware their forecasts were worthless. Head sheds reward liars and reject truth-tellers. It makes for bold forecasts and timid decisions
  • The reference point influences choices
  • Sure outcomes are never certain. The consequences of choice are never certain
  • Unfairness matters, square deal matters
  • Broad framing blunts the emotional reaction to losses and increased risk-taking
  • Nothing in the mind automatically keeps our preferences reflecting our interests. Its inconsistency is built-in.
  • They favor the quality of the story over their feelings. The goal is the story and the story ending defines its character
  • Gatekeeping intuition is a deviation from social norms that takes intelligent effort
  • Neither of the minds, con and sub, are trustworthy as-is. You have to motivate System 2 to gatekeep System 1’s allocation of effort before it takes place on autopilot.
    • Rewarded for punishing others (production seems to go up)
    • Punished for rewarding others (production seems to go down)
    • Illusory correlation (wrong conclusion)
  • You don’t learn from experience with Plan A how to get to Plan B
  • You can only learn from living in Plan B how to get to Plan B. Until 2013, it was unavailable
  • Happy groups double quality and halve losses, leading to angst-free coherence
  • As associative activation ideas in a spreading cascade of cognition is embodied, your body reacts in several measurable ways
  • A bad judgment indicts both functional “minds” – no intelligence
  • Details can be used to defeat logic
  • The ultimate currency that punishes and rewards is emotional – mental self-dealing social status
  • Any theory which ignores reality is untenable
  • Whoever gets to the bias principles first gets a chance to exploit them to influence the efforts of the unsuspecting others
  • You can only “know” something if it is true and knowable
  • You change beliefs without a hint of awareness
  • The handwriting on the wall is written in invisible ink, which is only visible after the fact
  • Your mind wants a simple message of triumph and failure
  • The confidence we have in our beliefs is overrated and failure in false-belief implementation doesn’t matter
  • The idea of an unpredictable future is undermined every day by the ease with which the past is explained by those pulling rank
  • Unreliable, biased judgments can’t predict anything trustworthy
  • “Knowing” without knowing:
    • IKE (I know everything)
    • ike (I know enough) is the norm of mental life
  • Because society is an ecosystem, its fate is not in any one person’s hands
  • Current wealth matters a great deal
  • The emotions of regret and disappointment are keen
  • Bias favors the status quo
  • A hierarchy is a factory for producing judgments and allocations of effort distorted by GIGO bias. It makes errors of intuitive choice and judgment
  • Extortion is the chosen practice/methodology of all management practices. It is legalized by the Establishment. It doesn’t work
  • Creativity is associative memory working on overtime
  • The proof of understanding a pattern of behavior is to reverse it
  • The optimist bias causes most award-winning CEOs to flop
  • Regret and hindsight biases merge together
  • Performance group has a psychological immune system
  • You can’t discuss wellbeing without goals. Plan A people don’t know Plan B is an attainable goal
  • You don’t control events, you control outcomes by performance
  • OD is a loss-creating machine
  • Make yourself useful, to yourself and your social systems. Choose with intelligence and you have a happy life. You are trustworthy. You will automatically acquire social power by high performance
  • The arriving operational reality of NOW
  • Horses and dogs, in choice-making, parallel humans
  • Whatever theory of social behavior you espouse must explain the millennia of non-stop bad choices, with no contrary examples, made by the infallible authorities of hierarchical society.
  • Social status is the paramount bias of choice-making in hierarchical organizations. The keystone has nothing to gain or lose, social status-wise, from using network fiction.
  • Mankind only has conscious control over its efforts, physical and mental. The process by which it allocates what effort to apply, and its intensity and duration, is not known by its individual decision-makers.
  • From birth, your way of life, your trajectory through time is channeled by your allocation of your efforts using your supply of available energy.

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