I try to understand the world through three things that I used to call to call “The Machine,” but my buddy has re-termed, “The Algorithm.”
It’s essentially how I try to understand information. For me, it’s the basis of critical thinking.
- Occam’s razor – The simplest explanation is probably correct. This is the first because it’s the most important.
- Cui Bono – Literally, “who benefits?”
- Is it true? Alternatively: Does this make sense?
Not all three are always applicable but one invariably is. Fox News, for example, violates 1 – credulity – on the daily, and coupled with 2, and 3, doesn’t seem to be very reliable.
Of all three, the third is the hardest one when it comes to yourself. If someone says to you, “You’re selfish,” you have to really try to dispassionately examine the data. Ignore the messenger and listen to the message.
It’s easy to avoid (3) because (3) is the most painful but it leads to the most growth and overall happiness. It’s like any exercise, no pain no gain.
I recently found out that an ex of mine just had twins with her husband last month during the craziness of COVID. For a long-time, she was my favourite ex.
While we were together, there was a co-worker (not her current husband) that was always doing these little things to put me down. Nothing that rose to a full insult but just little things, like making fun of the colour of a tie for example, back when I wore ties.
And my ex not only never said anything about it, she would laugh along.
Me: I just don’t understand what’s so funny about a green tie.
Ex: I don’t know, it just is. He’s married and weird; stop being crazy.
I ran it through the Algorithm but refused to believe the results. They ended up having a fling together.
I learned from that experience to believe in the Algorithm – although not always – and I’m grateful to her for the lesson. Education’s expensive.
Had a long chat recently with someone who knew both her and her co-worker.
Her: I remember once that he called you an insecure nutcase.
Me: Well, he wasn’t wrong
Her: (laughing) Really?
Me: I was trying to buy a building then, and sleeping maybe three hours a night. Nutcase wasn’t inappropriate. As for being insecure, she broke the trust covenant by ______, _____, and _______. Wouldn’t you be a little insecure if you were me? If your husband did even *one* of those things, let alone all?
Her: (thinking) I never thought of it that way.
Me: “Insecure” means “likely to break”. That’s true in two senses: Personally, she and I were together at a time when I was likely to break. Regarding the relationship, she broke the trust covenant, repeatedly. When something’s broken once, it’s likely to break again unless changes are made. We both didn’t wanna change. I can say I was insecure in that relationship. But, that’s because I was asking questions she refused to answer.
Her: What questions?
Me: (shrugging) Why was he talking about me in the first place? Was he obsessed with me or something I had that he wished he had? I never talked about him but he always seemed to be talking about me. For both of them, it’s always easier to do something shitty to someone, if you soften them up first.
I’m not always right. But everything is obvious once you accept the answer.
And, in her defense: I was clearly mad from the insomnia and she still stayed. Everything went down when I didn’t get better. She gets a lotta slack from me for that.
Now, she’s got a two fatties of her own and a family. I’m honestly happy for her now. Thrilled, really.
To be even more candid, I’m slightly jelly that she has the only thing that I ever truly wanted and can never have.
Me: Should I send her something?
Her: That’d be a terrible idea, Logan.
Me: Yeah. (nodding) Yeah. Good point, good point…
Podcast Version: The Algorithm
Location: my empty apartment, post ribs and dumplings
Mood: insecure about the next seven days
Music: all out my hands when you pulled the trigger (Spotify)
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