More choices = better choices

This is something I wrote a while ago in response to some observations I was making. This was some free-thinking that I was doing. I think I’ll use this for a starting point to write future posts for a while. I hope you enjoy!

I have noticed a disturbing trend among some of my friends. They desire fewer choices rather than more. This is a problem, not only amongst my friends but, I think, amongst much of society. Why is this a problem? If people do not want choices that means that they want others to make those choices for them, because, whether anyone likes it or not, someone will have to make a decision. The more often people decline to make their own decisions, the more others will make the decision for them. The more people defer decisions to others the less control a person has over their own life. The less control a person has over their own life the less predictable life becomes for them. When life is less predictable we have less information about our lives because we cannot effectively extrapolate from the information at hand. When we have less information about our lives, the decisions we do decide to make become harder, the very thing people were trying to avoid in the first place…

Now, here when I say harder I mean this in a bad way. However, when a decision is made harder due to an increase in options, this is a good thing. When you are making a decision, you are trying to determine what is right or best. Now, there will always be an option that fulfills that qualification. There is an answer that is right or best in every decision. However, as the number of options increases there is a growing likelihood that the options will become closer and closer until it is nearly impossible to tell which is the right option.

For example, take a math problem: 387/2. Now let us say that your goal is to choose the option that is closest to the correct answer for this question. At first you are given two options: A or 3. Well, since we know the answer to this problem is a number, 3 is the obvious choice. Alright, now lets add some more options. We now have available to us: A, 3, 782, 4567, and 200. Well, we know that 3 is a better option than A, and we know that the number are looking for is smaller than 387. That leaves us with 3 and 200. Well 3 is obviously not correct since 3*2 is 6, which is not even close to 387. So, we would pick 200. Now you can see where this is going. The correct answer is 193.5. The more options we add the greater more difficult the decision becomes. At first the decision was easy, A is obviously not the correct answer, as it is a letter and we are looking for a number, so we chose 3. Then we added more options and it was necessary to do a little more thinking, we then decided 200 was the best answer. Now if we kept adding more and more options, we might end up with two options such as, 192 and 194. At first glance there is no obvious answer, it is far more difficult to choose between these two options than between 3 and A, or 3 and 200. However, regardless of what we choose, we are better off. Between the two options 194 is better than 192, however, each of these two options is better than 200 and is far better than 3. This is why it is better to have more options. The more options we have the more likely it will be that we come across a better option than the option with which we were previously going. The key part of this hard decision is that it is hard because the options available to us are so difficult to discern from one another. This is in stark contrast to the difficulty of making a decision about which we have little information.

When we are trying to solve a problem with little information available to us it is like the following problem: ?8??3. This is the same problem as earlier, except this time some information has been removed. We don’t know what is going on here. Is this a 5 digit number? Is this a simple arithmetic problem? Is this some sort of short algebra problem? We don’t know. In this instance more options will not significantly help us. They may give some insight into the sort of problem we are dealing with, however, that would only be guesswork at best. There are innumerable problems this could be, however it is only one of those innumerable possibilities.

This is an example of, more information = better information. The more we know, the better off we are. We may not always like what we know, but it is better to know it than to not know it, always.

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