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The Law of Unintended Consequences

https://markmanson.net/unintended-consequences

markmanson.net

The Law of Unintended Consequences
Sometimes the solution to a problem is worse than the problem itself. It's the Law of Unintended Consequences—and it's more common than you think.

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The Law Of Unintended Consequences

The Law Of Unintended Consequences

There are many situations and disastrous circumstances where impulsive and emotional solutions are applied, which apparently solve the problem but unintentionally create new problems or collateral damage that may be worse. This is known as The Law Of Unintended Consequences.

Example: The Forest Service rapidly extinguished forest fires as soon as they erupted, causing larger, more severe forest fires due to an abundance of unburned deadwood spread all over.

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Decision Making And The Law Of Unintended Consequences

Our worst decisions are only later known to us as being terrible ones. When we make those decisions, we think of them as good ones

We take shortcuts and solve problems in a quick-fix, rapid-relief method. We don’t consider any long-term effects or where the dominos will fall based on our choices.

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Reasons We Suffer From The Law Of Unintended Consequences

  1. We play it safe and do not want to take the time and investigate the root cause of a problem.
  2. Our many cognitive biases act like blind spots, making us only see immediate threats.
  3. We focus on something visual and available (like what’s on TV) and worry about those problems instead of focusing on the real but invisible problems which may be more lethal.
  4. Our decisions have certain compounding effects that are not visible for years, yet when the entire time period and the corresponding events are accounted for, the stupidity of the solution is revealed.

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Avoiding The Law Of Unintended Consequences

Some basic techniques we can apply to minimize the unintended problems:

  1. Apply non-action: Not acting out the impulsive reaction that we think will solve a problem is often the simplest way to let it subside.
  2. Think of the risks: What feels right is often not so. Take the worst-case scenario into account.
  3. The opposite effect: Understand that regulating or focusing on eradicating something can even lead to its proliferation.
  4. The undo button: Permanent decisions that can’t be undone are the worst offenders. If you have to make a decision, make something that can be corrected.

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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

The Cobra Effect

The Cobra Effect

Most of us have a simple, cause-to-effect relationship with our surroundings and the events that unfold in our lives. We try to solve problems using a linear-thinking model, result...

Origin of The Cobra Effect

The term ‘Cobra Effect’ originates from Colonial India, which was under the rule of the Britishers. To tackle the problem of the growing number of cobras, the British government announced a bounty on every dead cobra. Enterprising locals started breeding cobras and kept on claiming the bounty reward. When the Britishers realized this and stopped the reward, the snakes were set free, increasing the population in the city.

This anecdote revealed that a linear, logical solution could also make the problem worse.

Understanding Dynamic Systems

A dynamic system has two types of feedback loops:

  • Positive Feedback: This feedback loop keeps the coveted effect in progress.
  • Balancing Feedback: Also called negative feedback, this loop keeps the system in a balanced state.

Instead of assuming that a dynamic system is a chain of linear events, we need to step back and look at the big picture and try to understand the complex feedback interactions.

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Motion Dynamics Of Life

Motion Dynamics Of Life

According to Newton’s first law, objects tend to remain at rest unless an external force or energy makes them change their state.

Applied to life, this would mean everything requires en...

Initial Push

The energy, force or effort in the initial stage would be far more than what is required for the object to keep moving. If our project, like starting a new business, was like launching a rocket, we would like to start it with the initial super thrust, but we also need to keep the momentum going.

The entire journey requires some amount of energy to keep moving forward. It also moves in one direction only, and changing its direction needs a considerable amount of effort and force.

Building And Maintaining Momentum

It is easier to keep any moving object in motion, than to put in motion an object at rest, due to inertia. Inversely it is harder to stop a moving object. Applied in life, it means if we are moving and keep getting momentum, it is hard to stop us from reaching our goals.

The trick is to have patience and keep going until you reach a point that your own force propels you forward, making it harder for anyone to stop you.

A new playbook

Growth evangelists are right when they state that severe lockdowns produce a parallel human misery of unemployment, looming bankruptcies, and extreme financial anguish. Yet, opening the economy too...

The false choice

“Save the economy or save lives” is a false choice.
A group of economists published a paper on the 1918 flu outbreak. Their findings revealed:

  • Early and aggressive interventions saved lives and triggered a faster rebound, such as job growth and banking assets.
  • Without a healthy population, there can be no healthy economy.

The hope is for a deep, short recession, to show that people have shut the economy down to limit the spread of disease.

A living wage

Asking millions of able-bodied workers to stop working creates a crisis of unemployment.

During this time, the U.S. is expanding unemployment benefits and are also delaying tax filing. In northern-European countries, the government is directly paying businesses to maintain their payrolls to avoid mass layoffs and furloughs.