Divisive Decisions

Issue #12 - 5m56s


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Blue, red, and yellow by Sam Francis

Recently, I've been noticing a particular trend in my life. Among groups of people with a shared goal, ideas that initially garner divisiveness — those that elicit an almost equal amount of positive and negative emotion are those that have been outperforming their peers. This has proved to be especially true when compared to ideas that garner widespread, yet lukewarm, support.

Building off of this, ideas that generate the greatest magnitude of emotion, regardless of direction, are those that should be taken. I'll condition this statement with the idea that the net direction should fall no lower than slightly net negative.

So what does this reveal about human nature that the same idea can elicit equally powerful positive and negative emotions from a group of people who share the same goal?

The easy answer here is that people have different levels of openness to change. Ideas deviant from the established norm will feel like a messiah to some and horrifying to others. Maintaining the status quo is enticing.

This is augmented by their risk tolerance. People are inherently risk-averse. We care more about protecting what we have than what we can gain. We lean towards decisions that have the highest floor rather than the highest ceiling or the highest expected value.

The best ideas are risky. The best ideas are deviant.

Now on the idea side, this may reveal a level of information asymmetry within this particular idea space. Inherent to the existence of networks is the existence of esoteric knowledge — information privy to portions of the population but not the whole. That esoteric knowledge is what contextualizes the idea for some and makes it seem brilliant. A lack of that knowledge is a lack of a framework for the idea to build on, making it seem confusing and illogical to others.

Or more abstractly, this may reveal the existence of a shared fundamental belief about the world — a philosophical understanding of how the world works that predate the individual's introduction to the idea. The originator has a belief of how the world functions and the idea is birthed from that notion. Those that share the same belief can make the logical connection while those that do not, cannot. Convincing the latter will prove impossible until that dissonance in their world-views is identified.

The curious thing about these decisions is that there will inevitably be three groups of directional reactions to any of these decisions. The first are those that will agree with the idea from the very beginning. The second are those that originally disagreed with the idea but have since switched sides after further consideration or development of the idea. And the third are those that originally disagreed with it and will continue to do so.

If the idea manifests and grows, if you actualize it, then those in the third category MUST deal with the ramifications of the idea due to its scale and its permeation into the public consciousness. It may not be what they want, it may never be, but the belief here must be that your idea creates a better world for them that even they themselves have yet to recognize. No idea in history has ever garnered absolute approval, but what is an acceptable threshold?

After all, the current state of affairs is built by humans. You are a human. You have the ability to build the state of affairs of the future. Whether that future is positive to yourself, to those you care about, to your local community, to your digital community, to your nation, to your church, to the world — well, that's up to you. Success is measured along your own metrics. Choose what makes you happy. Choose to manifest your dream.

You must always believe that you have the ability to manifest, that you have the ability to make the world a better place. Those that fall short of that belief, fall short of success, and fall short of bringing about their change.

That belief resides in the belief of self, a form of hubris — that you can build a better world for humanity that those around you. You will build this world alongside them, but they will be fighting different battles. They will different stories. They will be the side characters of your story just as you will be the side characters in theirs. Contemporaries, friends, supporters, cheerleaders, cofounders. You will lift each other up — as long as you have the belief.

A hero without a dream is just a side character.

And if the world wills it — then your change will manifest. Most of us will fail and settle. Most of us will post-rationalize and come to terms with what we accomplished, making ourselves consciously ignorant of what we could have done. That's okay — it can still be a good life; give care to your family, give care to your friends. Statistically, it is almost guaranteed that most of us will fail to manifest our dreams, that I will fail to manifest my dreams. Hold on to your dreams and don't let them go. Believe in yourself. By the pure strength of belief, the probability of you succeeding jumps to nothing short of 100%.

Hopefully you succeed, hopefully I succeed, hopefully we all succeed and make the change we want to see in the world. Hopefully, you find your competitive edge and that your truth is aligned with the worlds. Hopefully your future is full of love and that your original dream finds its form. It will. All it takes is the belief. Stick to your guns.


With all this said, the trick here is not letting yourself be swayed to make a decision, to pursue an idea, because of its divisiveness. The ideas which I found successful are those that arose from the soul and found division in the world. They are ones which seem beautiful to you, so obvious, so logical, built on top of your own experiences and bias and only after they manifest do they find pushback from those around you.

Good ideas, in this case, aren't those which is harmful to the human condition. They aren't ones which are divisiveness because they hurt marginalized groups and trivially improve majority groups. They are divisive because they seem foolish. Because other's understanding of humanity differs from your own. They may be right and you should listen; oftentimes they will tell you what you are missing. But if you are not fully convinced, if your heart still wants to pursue the original dream, then you must trust yourself and stick to your own belief. Trust your intuition. How else will you be able to manifest your dreams into reality?

Anyways, I'm hesitant to extrapolate this observation to the broad spectrums of ideas that exist in the world. Can this apply to politics, where a mistake is thousands of human lives? Maybe it can, but the cost of leaving people behind is too great. Where's the line here though? In what cases are necessary sacrifices acceptable? Is it better to be conscious of your sacrifices than to be ignorant of their existence?

The Weekly Nibble

Feeling the information overload? Yea me too. This is the best read I found this past week. Take a peep and LMK.



It is deeply worrying that Americans now have so little understanding of their political adversaries. It is downright disturbing that the very institutions that ought to help us become better informed may actually be deepening our mutual incomprehension.

I'm not an ardent follower of politics. Most of what I know and spend time thinking about are learned through BBC articles and heated conversations with a friend who aims to be the future POTUS. That said, this particular article and study were eye-opening to me — especially as someone whose political views were formed in the whirlwind of the left with very little input from the right. I estimate many of the readers of this blog went through similar environments — "elite" colleges. This was a refreshing take of the political landscape.