Monday, November 17, 2014

Bull Quota

Everyone should be allowed a quota of bull. When we watch movies, the suspension of disbelief allows us to enjoy the story. I suspect we would be happier if we extend the same to conversations with people whose stories are different from ours. In part this is because there are likely holes in our story too, and in part because life is just more fun that way. In Theatre Sport, it is only really funny if you go with the flow and build on what the last person has said. When you give someone the benefit of the doubt, you may find you get to the important bits of the story instead of fighting them on unimportant bits.

The truth is, they may not really have thought about the unimportant bits. We fill in the gaps. Life is too complicated for us to have thought through every situation with cold mathematical logic, applying double blind tests, and waiting for enough information to make up our minds. Buridan's Ass is the hypothetical story of a donkey (appropriately) who is both hungry and thirsty and placed exactly halfway between a pail of water and a stack of hay. Unable to decide whether it is more thirsty or more hungry, it ends up dying of both. 

Most of us aren't Asses. Using emotions and a little noise we move through life able to regularly make choices without considering everything. This is a good thing. If your story messes with other people's ability to live, you will run out of your Bull quota. That is a bad thing.

Political cartoon c. 1900, showing the United States Congress as Buridan's ass 
Source: Wikipedia

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