Bad Decisions are Not Something to be Proud Of.

Aman Manazir
Issue #20
December 4, 2020

In 1975, Israeli evolutionary biologist Dr. Amotz Zahavi published a paper called "Mate Selection - A Selection for Handicap." In this paper, Zahavi proposed The Handicap Principle, an explanation for the tendency of specific animals to choose mates with seemingly useless or harmful characteristics.

The Handicap Principle

The handicap principle centers around the idea that for a signal to be honest, it must be costly; otherwise, anyone could imitate it.

This is most clearly shown with extreme rites of passage in other cultures. For example, a tribe in the Amazon has a ritual where they sedate and interleave giant tropical bullet ants into a glove. Then, a person puts their hand into the glove, and must withstand the pain without screaming. The sting of the bullet ant is considered the most painful feeling in the world. Because this is so difficult and costly, it’s extremely reliable when revealing the toughest people.

If this test instead only required five pushups, everyone could do it. No one would be able to distinguish between the contenders.

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My Favorite Things This Week

Recently, I read "Pain is Not the Unit of Effort" by Less-Wrong. This article refutes the mistaken belief that the level of suffering involved with a task corresponds to effort. This is something that every student should understand; most people believe that "trying hard" is equivalent to "putting yourself in as much pain as possible," which is simply not true. Imagine someone repeatedly throwing themselves at a door, instead of using the doorknob.

A few days ago I listened to "The Price of Distraction," an episode of the Making Sense podcast with Sam Harris. In this episode, they discuss the mistake of multitasking, the attention deficit created by switching tasks, and video games that train the mind.

Over the past few months I've been reading Nat Eliason's blog. He writes about a variety of topics, from self-development to fitness to education. He also runs a YouTube channel. I would highly recommend his work if you are interested in growing a business of your own.

Quote of the Week

"Perhaps happiness is always to be found in the journey uphill, and not in the fleeting sense of satisfaction awaiting at the next peak." - Jordan Peterson, 12 Rules for Life

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