Other People's Problems [en]

[fr] Je pense qu'une des raisons pour lesquelles il est plus facile de trouver des solutions aux problèmes des autres est que nous avons moins d'informations à disposition pour essayer de choisir "la meilleure solution".

A few days ago I had a sudden insight. And yes, amongst other things, I blame Fooled by Randomness.

We all know that it’s easier to solve other people’s problems than one’s own.

And we also know that being away from home with no computer access makes it easier to relax and do other things. Or working in the office instead of at home means you are not “tempted” by home stuff while you should be working. That basically, being in a context where you physically have less options reduces stress.

I just realised that it’s similar for with problems. One of the things Taleb insists on in Fooled by Randomness is that more information does not mean you make a better decision. More information is bound to get you fooled by randomness.

So, two things here:

  • less choice means less stress
  • less information can mean better decisions

I think that both come into play in a way when dealing with other people’s problems. You have less data about the issue than the person who is stuck in the problem. That makes it easier for you to take a decision about it (or give advice), because you aren’t burdened by tons of possibly useless data that you still try to process.

Makes sense?

2 thoughts on “Other People's Problems [en]

  1. Less information can only mean better decisions if you don't deal with the extra information in a sensible manner! Although we are not robots that can easily ignore masses of irrelevant information when making a decision, purposely avoiding better knowledge of your problem can only be irresponsible.

  2. It makes a lot of sense!
    As soon as other people's problems don't concern us (we're just helping a friend, not searching for the solution that will solve all of our problems), we have less responsability, this meaning less things to worry about, then we have more time to focus on the problem itself.

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