At the most recent Poly Speed Dating
event, I realized I was making my post-date decisions in an irrational way. At least some of the time I was checking "no" even when I was interested in someone, under the assumption that there was no point in checking "yes" because the other person didn't seem sufficiently interested; and at least some of the time I was checking "yes" even when I wasn't really all that interested, with the feeling that I wasn't really committing myself because the other person would probably check "no" and let me off the hook.
And of course this was ridiculous because of the way speed dating is set up: If the other person checks "no," it doesn't matter what you check, so assuming they did check "no" is not a useful way to make your decision
. If your decision doesn't make a difference unless the other person says "yes," then you've got to assume they will say yes so that you're deciding based on the assumption that your decision actually means something.
This evening, I was thinking of what other situations might be analogous to that, with an eye toward rendering the general principle in more abstract terms. The first analogy that came to mind -- though admittedly not a terribly interesting one -- was the idea of pretending you can't afford to travel and then trying to decide where you would most like to travel to, versus pretending to have won a free trip to a location of your choice and then trying to decide what that choice would be. Clearly, only the second mental exercise is going to give you any information about yourself that's actually useful.
And then came tonight's Writer's Block:[Error: unknown template qotd]
Dear Writer's Block: If you've started reading my mind, does this mean we're going to get some more interesting questions from now on?