Monday, November 29, 2021

Heuristic: Enough

The roughly dressed man stood in the doorway, wringing and kneading his battered cap. Mrs Marfy recognized him as the foreman at the Brewery where Paddy worked.

"Mrs Marfy, it is my sad duty to inform you that Paddy died at the Brewery today."

"What happen't?" Mrs Marfy asked.

"Paddy fell in the vat and drown't" the foreman said, sadly.

"Was it quick?" Mrs Marfy asked.

"I'm afraid not" the foreman said, regretfully. "He climbed out three times to use the men's room."

I am not getting much love from my laptop. The essay I wrote in LibreOffice will not open so you get a slap-dash version of it.

Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin wrote a book titled Your Money or Your Life. It had its day in the sun and folks moved on.

Dominguez makes the point that Prospect Theory is wrong.

Prospect Theory suggests that the joy of a gain has a singularity around zero and then the joy increases monotonically as the gain increases. Further, Prospect Theory holds out that each increase in gain is subject to diminishing returns but it always inches upward. 

Dominguez contends that the joy/gain curve is shaped like an upside-down "U". It goes up rapidly at the start just as Prospect Theory contends. It has a broad, almost-flat region (Dominguez calls this almost-flat region "Enough"). But then the joy starts to drop downward when total gain is more than "Enough".

Occam's razor

While there are many cases like poor Paddy Marfy like the man dying of thirst in the desert who prays for rain and drowns in a flash flood, those cases are one-ofs. Occam's Razor demands a single unifying mechanism even if it is not as dramatic as Mr Marfy heroically climbing out of the vat the third time.

That single unifying mechanism is that every person has a limited number of hours in their life. The hours and dollars (money is a proxy for the hours of our life) that are expended seeking MORE of something beyond "enough" are robbed from other facets of our life where we are lacking.

In aggregate, we are sub-optimizing when we hyper-focus on one narrow facet of our lives. More money, for instance, cannot fix rotten arteries, a lazy mind or a defective character.

Consider firearms. A first gun might be a single-shot, full-choke shotgun. The owner might be happy to keep 8-of-10 shots on a paper plate at 35 yards. Lets call that 30 MOA.

The next weapon the newbie buys might be capable of hitting a playing card 8-times-of-10 at a hundred yards. Lets call that a 3 MOA firearm.

Then the shooter wants one that is a 1MOA firearm at 100 yards. Then a 1/2MOA rifle. Then a 1/2MOA at 200 yards and so on.

The first gun was $50 at an auction sale. The second was $300 and every rifle and associated hardware was 5X more than the previous.

With me so far?

If the shooter's needs were to shoot bunnies in the cabbage patch, raccoons in the chicken coop and to pot an occasional deer on his five acres...the first gun was probably "enough".

How did we get trapped?

We were trapped into this thinking by the simplest of classical conditioning. Going from Not-Good-Enough to Better-but-not-enough tickles our pleasure centers. Tickle those pleasure centers enough times and gains will continue to do so even after "enough" is passed.

How to get un-trapped

Make decisions consciously. Maybe your life doesn't shower you with joy. Racing past "enough" in one or two facets of your life might be totally rational.

On the other hand, reaching for more may be habit. Slow down. Ask "What is the best use of my next hour or next $20?"

NOTE: Computer still locking up. Hence the lack of pictures.


  1. So, was Windows 10 "enough"? I ran Win XP and Win 7 until the wheels fell off.

    Your point is taken. In my advancing years, I find I use the word "enough" almost daily.

    To use your MOA example, I shot NRA Highpower rifle matches for decades. I have a Forrester case trimmer with the attachment to turn case necks. However, I could never conclusively demonstrate that it made a difference (for me), so it sits gathering dust. It turned out that sorting my brass by head stamp and segregating a batch to each rifle was enough.

  2. Enough is right. And the cost of an 'accurate' gun at X range goes up 'dramatically'...Actually, most of the cost is in the glass on top of it, and the exceptional quality ammo to feed it. Sigh...

    1. I appreciate the effort you and guys like RHT447 put into making rifles accurate. I also appreciate how willing you are to share most of the secrets.

      Giving a 1/2 MOA rifle to an average shooter instantly turns it into something much less than a 1/2 MOA weapon.

      Shooting is a system and the guy behind the trigger is almost always the biggest randomizer

    2. That last sentence is solid gold. I'm going to brazenly steal it and use it in my marksmanship classes.

  3. Check out Only Office;

    I've found it much better than LibreOffice, OpenOffice and all of their freeware ilk. And it's cross platform with Windows, Linux and MacOSX. Also iOS and Android, but I have not tested mobile, as I use Microsoft Office on my iPhone and sync with OneDrive.

    I have taken to using it instead of Microsoft office on many of my computers. I discovered it when testing setting up a NextCloud server a year or two ago, and discovered Only Office integrates with it. The only "con" is no Outlook counterpart. If one considers that a downside. (I don't.)

  4. This is really good therapy for me. Makes me dive deeper than usual.

    I call it template thinking (might be habit). I learned about template thinking when I had a concussion last year. My head still doesn't really know what to ignore as normal and what to pay strict attention to like before. I get tired way more easily now. Some days, it's like I'm in a high speed accident all day. My head is catching every detail in real time, and it's exhausting. We learn to ignore what isn't moving or changing, so the brain only has to analyze what is important. That's how you can drive 20 miles and not remember it. Nothing important happened.

    I had asked myself why I remember the thrill of buying my first XYZ then why I didn't feel that on the fifth XYZ I bought. Great explanation. The U shaped thrill ride.

    I also have a template or habit of not refusing anything free. I don't know if it's due to my raising by depression era kids (we washed foil for reuse until it was threadbare), or the lack of stuff due to finances from my early teens until the 10th year of marriage. Or just a predisposition. I do know I'm not a good warehouseman. Storing stuff is a chore, and finding it again is nearly impossible. That's a "too much" indication on the U scale. Cue the ADHD.

    I always seem to be preparing to do something, rather than getting it done. NOW THAT IS A REVELATION. I just cottoned onto that while typing. Exactly why I come here to read your thoughts...

    This is more than a mental exercise for me. Your posts have really helped me think clearer, or more pointedly, with a certain target in the sight picture. Thank you for putting this up.

    Like when I learned to "snap in", my scores began to improve quicker than just shooting during the monthly competition. I appreciate the investment you put into this blog. It's making a difference in my life. Thank you.

    1. You are welcome.

      I am tickled that I could be of service.


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