Things Move [static vs dynamic]
Level 3: Master of Mundane
Sometimes it may seem like we pick on (or throw stones at) a specific group of people. Academics, for example. It may sound like what we are trying to say is “look out for academics” - which isn’t necessarily the case.
What we are trying to say is something more like: “Look out for people that make dynamic issues seem like static issues” - The people that can easily make sense of something on paper or "in theory" and mistake it for being reality.
Things don’t move in the classroom.
They do in real life.
Our observation has been this:
Those that sit atop Mt. Stupid are CERTAIN of what they know to be true. They believe their truth is the only truth and that what is relevant and accurate from their point of perception is relevant and accurate from all points of perception.
See the valley of despair above? Those that step beyond the classroom and engage with reality start to slide into it because they start learn through real world experience, and the real world exhibits a trait the classroom cannot prepare you adequately for…
The people that sit atop Mt. stupid are dogmatic, they believe there is only one right way to do anything.
The few that live on the “slope of enlightenment” have a few commonalities:
They’ve made mistakes, been on the wrong side of “luck” and have battle scars.
The answer to almost everything is: “It depends”.
Why does it depend?
Because things move.
Not just concrete, tangible things. Even things like personal preferences and priorities are also always in motion.
Worse, those that sit in a classroom surround themselves with their like-minded, equally dogmatic people. In the echo chamber, they tend to miss two critical points of reality:
Static X and Dynamic X are very different things. If we intend to be useful they should be treated differently.
Group Indexing and Individual Indexing are very different things. If we intend to be useful they should be treated differently.
These two realities bleed together. They don’t live in isolation.
Before we go any further, let me remind you that we are coming from the following base assumptions:
First, you intend to be useful. If you do not intend to be useful to yourself or others, you can stop reading.
Second, the point of data/research/effort is to modify your behavior to have a higher probability of getting favorable outcomes. If you are uninterested in modifying your own behavior, stop reading. If you wanna sit around and “be right” about stuff or point fingers at others, stop reading. This will not be helpful or interesting to you.
Static X and Dynamic X are very different things
We can look at something like the income gap as an example.
This is not an argument for or against either side of the issue. It’s to illustrate the differences in the data and the narrative. The narrative has potential consequences on our beliefs and, subsequently, our behavior.
The top 1% owns 27% of the total income in America.
Nearly every year the headlines show a greater gap between the top 1%, 10%, etc, and everyone else.
Static inequality is a snapshot view of inequality. It does not reflect what has happened, what will happen, or what you can do about it.
Ten percent of Americans will spend at least a year in the top 1% . Over half of all Americans will spend at least one year in the top 10%.
Static inequality tells one story:
"The rich get richer".
But that's only the story if you fail to realize that things move.
The rich certainly can and sometimes do get richer. 50% of the population spending time in the top 10% means that the poor can become rich, and the rich can become poor.
In fact, they do.
Because things move. A snapshot or series of group-indexed (more on that shortly) snapshots do not tell us what is really going on. Life is a motion picture, treating it as multiple snapshots in time will tell a false narrative.
"Dynamic Inequality" takes into account the entire future and past life. It accounts for the individuals that make up the data set and their movement.
This tells us an entirely different story: half of us will end up in the top 10% during our lifetime. Again, that means some people will fall and others will rise. What static data fails to reveal is that there is mobility; it’s not the same 10% day to day, month to month, or year to year.
To be clear, I’m not making an argument about whether it’s better or worse. I'm saying that things move.
This creates a different reality than the one created under the presupposition that they do not.
Another thing missed by the static data sets:
Groups are not individuals. Your grandma might be a Catholic member of the Republican party. 30 years ago, she could have been a Protestant member of the Democratic party.
Data sets of groups may be made up of different individuals.
Groups can change or stay the same and individuals within the groups can change or stay the same because…
Russian Roulette, Group Indexing, and Individual Indexing
Imagine for a moment that there is a worldwide game of Russian Roulette:
All winners get ten million dollars.
There is one bullet for 17 guns; that's 16 guns with no bullets and a gun with a single bullet.
Assuming six chambers per firearm, that’s one bullet for every 102 trigger pulls -over 99% chance of "winning".
…Over a 99% probability of winning.
…Winners get ten million bucks.
…Is that a good bet?
Let's play out two scenarios:
Thousands of people decide this is a good bet and fight to get on the list to play the game. There is a limit of one turn per person, so the competition ends up being 102 people, each with one pull of the trigger.
Thousands of people decide this is a good bet and fight to get on the list to play the game. There is no limit to the number of turns per person so a single person manages to buy all 102 turns for himself.
Scenario 1 is a group indexing problem: if we all play this, we all have 1 in 102 odds of dying. The risk is evenly distributed, there is no repeat exposure, so the risk of death is less than 1%.
It’s an ensemble probability.
Scenario 2 is an individual indexing problem: if I play 102 times in a row, I am certain to die.
It’s a time probability.
102 people distributing a risk that is below 1% is very different than one person taking on a 1% chance of ruin 102 times in a row.
When you mistake a time probability for an ensemble probability, you might be mistaking a good, bet with a death sentence. It's helpful to remember:
Because things move, what we’ve learned to be true in a nice, comfortable, and static environment can turn us into really poor decision-makers in the much more dynamic reality. Even if it looks good on paper, the right answer is not always the best answer for survival.
There is more to this, of course. Russian Roulette, for example, has an outcome of complete ruin or death which changes the implication of repeat exposure. But that’s how these things go…
There is always more to it.
Because things move.
Remember: Things Move.
Live to Learn. Give to Earn.
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