Monday, October 4, 2010

Paralysis by Analysis

The NYTimes had an article about Andrew Cuomo this am where he was accused of "paralysis by analysis." Milton Friedman said at one time that we don't make better decisions after about ten minutes of deliberation. My dad said "you can't move too slowly." A week later, when I told him that I shared that with my students and they were having trouble understanding it, he said, "I never heard anything so stupid."

So we are back to the Buddhist skepticism about "views" as something that takes us away from experiences. We used to call that "prejudice." If I think I don't like Jackson Pollock's paintings, and I happen on one that I've never seen... will I be open to it? No, of course not.

The worst thing about analysis (especially the kind that goes on and on) is that we never become comfortable with our decisions. We have thought so much about the possible negative consequences of our proposed actions that we can't ever be 100% sure it was the right path.

Someone figured out that our unconscious makes decisions about 1/10th of a second before our conscious mind is aware of that decision. Then we conjure up an argument to defend our heart.

One of the aspects I like about improv theater is that there isn't time to procrastinate. One has to respond now. Right now. Imagine if Mr. Cuomo did that.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My guess is that with a bit more analysis and perhaps consultation with spouse or friends, you would not have taught your dog to bark. H.