Sunday, December 29, 2019

Temporal Myopia

Temporal myopia is like visual myopia, except it causes clarity to decrease in time rather than in space. When you suffer from visual myopia and a wolf approaches, you might think that the blur you see is your best friend in a fur coat.

With temporal myopia, if your doctor told you that you will die tomorrow, you would probably faint on the spot, but if he told you that you will die fifty years from now, you might think nothing of it.

Temporal myopia, rather than making us more cautious, makes us reduce the importance of a future event. It’s called ‘hyperbolic discounting’. Even though I know that abstaining from eating chocolate cake will extend my life in the future, I choose to discount the importance of that fact. The short-term gain of tasting the chocolate melt on my tongue is far more important.

'Temporal myopia is the archenemy of delayed gratification'. (Click to Tweet)

When I wake up in the morning, half dead, I cannot wait for my first cup of coffee. If the gratification of caffeine rushing through my veins gets delayed, there is a good chance that I will become dangerous to the people around me. I am temporarily myopic to the knowledge that I’ll feel like a wet rag a few hours later, a typical side-effect of caffeine.

But sometimes delayed gratification wins the battle over temporal myopia. I met this man in the therapy pool yesterday, who started to yell at me because I had positioned myself in his ‘lane’ (how you can swim laps in an exercise pool not much larger than a good sized bathtub is beyond me). He was so loud and verbally abusive that I started to laugh. This didn’t sit well with him. He called me arrogant and told me he would swim right over me if I didn’t move. I wanted to give him a kick in the you know what, but knowing enough about physics to realize that water does not help you in your kicking efforts, I preferred to bide my time. I devised a plan to get back at him with all the might of my delayed gratification technique. I called the manager and revel in the knowledge that this man will pay for his crime by being officially reprimanded. In this case I preferred to wait for my vengeance and make it taste that much sweeter. Read more...

Monday, December 23, 2019

Our New Year’s Resolutions

We have resolved, decided and put down in writing that we no longer will make New Year’s resolutions in our family. We will no longer be subject to the tyranny of this preposterous and bizarre custom and declare us free of its obligatory nature.

We find it ridiculous and nonsensical that we should make New Year’s resolutions, as if it were the only time we can promise to be good or stop doing something bad. In fact, I am making a resolution right now! There, I made one and it’s not even New Year's eve yet! I will, of course not share it with you, just in case I don’t keep it.

Why stick to an obsolete tradition that dates back to the Romans? They had this 2-faced God Janus, with one face looking backward into the old year and the other looking forward into the new year and since then, entire countries have had to make resolutions for the new year and forgive sins of the past!

This is not to ridicule those who still are naive enough to make New Year’s resolutions every beginning of a year, or a few days before it. Not at all.

It is just that, from where we stand, given the enlightened state of being that we have reached, we find it laughable and daffy that we should make such New Year’s resolutions. Read more...