If I may …

It seems that certain people take issue when certain other people decide to opt out of the “popular choice”, here, a lifetime spent working for the sake of accumulating stuff, in other words, a typical career. One of the most common complaints can be traced to the first half of the Marxist refrain: “From each according to his ability … “. Wow! Just wow! I really thought we had moved past collectivism. Yet, indeed, certain people would have you believe that if you are talented or have an education, then you are obliged to use it and keep on doing whatever you were trained to do [like a good dog]. Of course a lot of what passes for so-called training is merely a “selection-process” designed to pick out those who are willing to focus their lives totally on work to the exclusion of acknowledging when enough is enough. I bet for a lot of people student loans and mortgages help to stay “focused”.

Now, I’m not sure that what is commonly deemed good for society actually is good. What I am seeing in society is stagnation and lack of strategic innovation as people keep pushing the pedal to the metal seemingly not realizing that pushing harder does not make them go faster and merely results in an abundance of bureaucratic red tape of committees, feasibility studies, and other menial busywork as institutions and government getter bigger and bigger and less and less efficient (and effective). Have you noticed how much more work is done increasing confidence than is done increasing accuracy? Confidence or precision without accuracy is useless(*). I mean, who are we trying to fool? Is that kind of work really worth it?

(*) I wonder whether the quest for precision instead of accuracy comes from our obsession with quantity instead of quality? Lemme splain. Presume that you want an estimate of some quantity. To get that you proceed to measure it not once but many times. Accuracy, then, is a measure for how close your estimate of the mean is to the actual value of the underlying process, that is, the quality of your model or measuring apparatus. Precision is simply a measure of your standard deviation. Precision can always be increased by taking more samples. Hence, precision is not inherently dependent on your quality of your model. One example. Suppose the true value is 4. Then a precise but not very accurate estimate is 3.734555 whereas an accurate but not very precise estimate is 4.1.

I would argue that I expect that people provide for themselves if they can. Doing otherwise suggests that they think that my time and effort is worth less than theirs. There is a difference here though in that I think that once people have provided for themselves, they are not under any further obligation. What I am saying is that people are not born indebted to society. Nobody should be automatically enslaved to anybody not even culturally or morally. Obligations should always be freely entered.

Originally posted 2008-11-15 06:14:08.