Re: poly: Hurry paradox

From: Robin Hanson <>
Date: Fri May 01 1998 - 11:51:14 PDT

Hal asks:
>The paradox arises when I try to consider whether there is any
>justification in *hurrying* to find the TV remote control and switch to
>the cable guide channel. ... no matter
>when I switch to that channel the average amount of time I will have to
>wait to see my channel's listing is the same. ...
>Given my preferences, is it rational to hurry to turn to the cable
>guide channel? ...
>Similar considerations would arise in hurrying to catch a train or a
>bus whose scheduling is so haphazard that it leaves at random times,
>or driving faster in the hopes of getting a green light at an unseen
>traffic signal ahead.

It seems rational to hurry to some degree. Your time is divided into
productive time, where effort gives results, and unproductive waiting time,
where effort is useless. You want effort to be higher during productive time,
so you "hurry" to get to the channel and to slip past a green light.
"Hurry" just means higher than average effort.

What might be irrational is the *level* of effort you put out. Maybe you
have some standard hurry hueuristic, and you don't realize that in this
situation it doesn't pay to hurry as much, because getting to the channel
faster isn't really worth the extra stress of hurrying.

Robin Hanson
RWJF Health Policy Scholar, Sch. of Public Health 510-643-1884
140 Warren Hall, UC Berkeley, CA 94720-7360 FAX: 510-643-8614
Received on Fri May 1 19:02:37 1998

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