Everything Is Rational – The Answer To All Things Irrational

Stop Complaining - Everything Is RationalRaging against the machine is in my nature.  It annoys me to no end when I read about injustices such as government raises during our recent implosion.  I once skipped a morning of work to demonstrate against an apparel company which used racist slogans.  Up yours Abercrombie!  As I age, I’m discovering a more peaceful side that just accepts things the way they are.

There’s a lot of messed up things in the world such as war, poverty, and corruption.  Some things we can try to explain, and some things we can’t.  And yet, I wonder if every irrational thing has a rational reason?  Let’s look at some examples and decide for yourself.

The Kid Who Just Wants To Have Fun

Everybody knows that grades start accumulating in the 9th grade, and without good grades and SAT scores, the chances of getting into a good college, and therefore landing a desirable job goes down.  Is it really so bad that Johnny High doesn’t go to Yale, and become a rich physician?  What’s so bad about community college and working for $20,000/yr at a dead end job which he enjoys?  Nothing at all!

Johnny High’s decision to not study hard in high school is perfectly rational.  He chose to have a whole lot of fun, while other kids were miserable studying and participating in extracurricular activities to boost their resumes.  When he’s 35 years old and still working at his job with the same salary, he’ll think back at all the fun he had in high school and smile.

Who’s to say that being a multi-millionaire physician and going to Yale is good anyway?  He could end up incredibly miserable, with tremendous amounts of anxiety everyday as a doctor. Instead, Johnny High chooses to live a more relaxing life, and doesn’t care about money.  If he did care about money, he would have studied harder.  And if Johnny starts to care about money, he may go to grad school and give himself another shot.

The Lady Who Loves To Eat

Two years ago, my friend Shirley at 5 feet 3 inches tall, weighed 205 pounds.  She was considered obese, and didn’t have a boyfriend.  Sure she was out of shape, and longed to have companionship, but what she loved more than anything else was pizza, strawberry frosted cupcakes, and Mountain Dew.  Food was her first love, and everything else came second.

Shirley’s decision to eat herself into obesity is perfectly rational.  Shirley is proud of her body just the way it is, and therefore continued to consume copious amounts of food.  A year ago, Shirley asks if I’d like to work out with her once a week.  I say sure, but why the sudden desire to exercise?  She mentions there’s a guy that caught her fancy at a party, and she wants him to notice her.

Six months later, Shirley is down to 150 pounds, and is happily going out with her new man.  Pizza and cupcakes are no longer Shirley’s first priority, he is.

The Chain Smoker Who Enjoys His Lucky Strikes

Smokers know that smoking damages the lungs, instigates cancer, and shortens lifespans.  Yet, smokers smoke because the pleasure from smoking outweighs the long term detriments.  Smokers are willing to accept the pain of lung cancer for the buzz of nicotine.

After spending $100 on cigarettes a month for years and coughing up blood for weeks, a relative of mine decided to quit.  The desire to live long enough to see his daughter give birth outweighed his desire for nicotine.  It’s been 6 years since he last lit up, and grandpa visits his granddaughter every Sunday.

The Consumer With Seven Credit Cards

People realize that credit card debt is the highest debt around, yet thousands still don’t pay off their debt in full every month.  Credit card debtors are willing to pay 10%+ interest rates because the pleasure they derive from the items they buy outweigh the burden of debt.

Eventually, the pleasure from buying an incessant amount of useless things wears off.  Unfortunately, the payments still remain.  Some go cold turkey and cut up their credit cards, while others find second jobs to accelerate their debt repayments.

The Mediocre Blogger

Consistent blogging is hard.  If you want to create one of the best blogs, you’ll spend hours a day trying to develop relationships with others.  You’ll submit to every single carnival, write tons of guests posts, publish more frequently, be absolutely self-less in promoting others, respond to all your comments and buy an iPhone so you can become a Twitter and Facebook maniac to keep in touch with your readers.

Yet, you realize blogging is a hobby, which shouldn’t get in the way of a vacation, a relationship, or your full-time job, which is what really pays the bills and allows you to reach financial independence sooner.  You don’t let blogging take over your life, especially if you are the obsessive type.  It’s OK to step back and not publish as frequently.  It’s OK not to be the most popular and get all the awards.  Your main goals are to have fun, meet some new folks, learn, perhaps make a little money on the side, and find your own voice.  I love having a mediocre blog, and so should you.  It means we’re balanced!

The Defunct Politician

Corrupt politicians exist because we let them exist.  We elect corrupt politicians into office and allow them to take advantage of the system for their own good.  If we don’t like what they do, we vote them out.  The people of Illinois did just that to ex-Governor Rod Blagojevich, and impeached him for wire fraud and bribery.  We are pumped that 1,700 people from the Department of Transportation now make over $170,000/yr from only one, two years ago.  If we weren’t, we’d cause a raucous.  Instead, I went online to learn everything about becoming a DOT analyst!

The majority of people voted for George W. Bush that’s why he did a second term.  He may not have found the WMD’s, and sent thousands of troops in harms way, but at least he kept America safe from further terrorist attacks since 9/11.  Apparently, the Republicans caused this entire financial mess, and the people voted for change.  Whose now to blame for 10.2% unemployment, one year later?  It’s rational to assume that most Americans want bigger government involvement in our daily lives, massive budget deficits, and higher taxes.

The Miserable Employee

The miserable employee is OK with being abused, taken advantage of, and underpaid by her boss.  Everyday she happily comes in knowing that it’s just another day in paradise.  The miserable employee stays at her job because her fear of the unknown is much greater than the misery her work and boss brings.

Fast forward five years later, the miserable employee continues to stay miserable at her job so she never has to take any risks and therefore never has to fail.  The miserable employee, if she were truly miserable, would have found a new job by now.  All her complaining and whining is just smoke screen, as she secretly enjoys job security more than anything else.

The Absent Minded

Finally, ever forget to do something you tell yourself to do just moments earlier?  Damn, I forgot what I was going to write…. Oh yeah, for example, if you forget to pay your bills on time, it’s because bills aren’t important to you, and you are willing to pay late fees.  You forget your anniversary because you really don’t care about such things.  If you did, you’d have a present ready for him or her and waiting!

The next time you feel there’s something you should remember but can’t, tell yourself this: The reason why you can’t remember is because the thing you’re supposed to do is not important.  If it were important, you’d remember!


From the examples above, it sure seems like everything is rational.  We do things which seem wrong to others, but really makes perfect sense.  The next time you start feeling pity for someone or questioning their actions, don’t.  Eventually, everything comes back to center. If not, it’s because things are fine just the way they are!


Related Posts:

Do People Work Only 40 Hours A Week And Complain Why They Can’t Get Ahead?

Do You Have The Right Money Mindset To Get Rich?

If You Produce Nothing, How Do You Expect To Make Any Money?




Updated on 5/10/2015

Sam started Financial Samurai in 2009 during the depths of the financial crisis as a way to make sense of chaos. After 13 years working on Wall Street, Sam decided to retire in 2012 to utilize everything he learned in business school to focus on online entrepreneurship. Sam focuses on helping readers build more income in real estate, investing, entrepreneurship, and alternative investments in order to achieve financial independence sooner, rather than later.

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  1. says

    @Matt S.
    Thanks Matt. I do, but I’m OK with a mediocre blog, as its currently in incubation mode right now. I’try and give the site all I got with the time I do have. But, I refuse to give all my time. I’m learning to try and NOT go full steam with every little thing I pick up, but instead, take things slow.

    I think of Yin Yang, and balance all the time now. Yin Yang is at the heart of everything is rational and life.

  2. neal@wealthpilgrim says

    I love you Sam…but I don’t agree.

    I believe that we have a choice in doing that which creates chaos or peace in our lives. Chaos becomes a false G-d and we worship at it’s alter for unknown reasons. That chaos is irrational but inescapable when we worship it.

    It’s irrational to worship destructive behavior and the fact that we do this does not make it a rational thing to do.

    Make any sense at all?
    .-= neal@wealthpilgrim´s last blog ..Plan For Retirement – The Unconvention Yet Clever Way =-.

  3. Tracy says

    Compassion for others in pain (emotional or physical), even if the pain is from bad choices they make is what separates good people from sociopaths and narcissists. That isn’t the same as enabling bad behavior, and it’s light years from just letting them go hang.

    If you see someone about to walk off a cliff, do you let them because it will work itself out somehow, or do you warn or try to stop them? If they choose to take the leap in spite of your best efforts, that’s fine and the consequences are all theirs. On the other hand, our culture is built around speed and success to a degree that I think is unhealthy.

    I agree that it’s okay to blog as much as you can without becoming obsessive, but that is true of everything. I think it is important to avoid being too judgemental of others. What someone earns for example, if they love their job and it gives them meaning is no one else’s business. We should also make choices with our own needs in mind, rather than worrying about being judged by others, as we are all unique. We place too much value on impressing others and I think this pushes us off balance.

  4. says

    May be getting a bit over my head in terms of psychology and philosophy but…aren’t the actions of one eventually justified in their head? So at most you can do is try to create a rift in their justification?

    I guess your point is, what is your (my) objective in creating the rift in that justification? and for that I have no answer, there is something in me that says I have to understand people
    .-= Evan´s last blog ..A Review of My Actual Prosper Account =-.

  5. says

    Eh? Don’t understand. Are we talking about religious radicals and martyrdom? If so, that’s rational from THEIR point of view b/c in their minds, the destruction they cause is for their own liberation and for their own God.

    If you’re talking about Chaos in general, then again, the riots and strikes on the streets are rational because they are opposing something that has offended them. Until we know their side of the story, how can we be against them?

    Obviously a line gets crossed some where. It seems to me that there’s always an answer, cause and effect.
    .-= admin´s last blog ..The Public Loves Wall Street Again! =-.

  6. says

    Yes, that’s the thing… once you understand the way things are, you cease to stop understanding because you know there is a reason.

    Look at the Biggest Loser contestants which I LOVE for example. Most Americans probably wouldn’t let themselves get to where they are. But most Americans don’t love food as much as they do. But, since the contestants are rational, they enter the show, and do EVERYTHING IN THEIR POWER in 3 months to lose the weight, and it works! They decided they want to be fitter and so they made a change.

    Who are we to judge them for their obesity? They probably have more self confidence than any skinny person ever has!

  7. says

    Tracy, this is my point. Why are we so judgemental of others? Why is it our place to judge people if they are smokers, divorcees, out of shape, etc? For all we know, they are happy as a pea, just the way they are!

    For the guy walking off a cliff, who are we to stop them? They obviously have something really bad going on, or maybe they murdered someone? It’s not our place to judge and talk them out of it. Maybe we can ask “are you sure” and listen, but more than that over steps our bounds.

    We’ve got to stop judging people, and start accepting people.

    Tracy :

    Compassion for others in pain (emotional or physical), even if the pain is from bad choices they make is what separates good people from sociopaths and narcissists. That isn’t the same as enabling bad behavior, and it’s light years from just letting them go hang.

    If you see someone about to walk off a cliff, do you let them because it will work itself out somehow, or do you warn or try to stop them? If they choose to take the leap in spite of your best efforts, that’s fine and the consequences are all theirs. On the other hand, our culture is built around speed and success to a degree that I think is unhealthy.

    I agree that it’s okay to blog as much as you can without becoming obsessive, but that is true of everything. I think it is important to avoid being too judgemental of others. What someone earns for example, if they love their job and it gives them meaning is no one else’s business. We should also make choices with our own needs in mind, rather than worrying about being judged by others, as we are all unique. We place too much value on impressing others and I think this pushes us off balance.


  8. Neal @ WealthPilgrim.com says


    OK….if we look at rational vs irrational simply from the standpoint of the individual in the middle of his/her behavior, you are right…….we usually find a way to justify our behavior as being rational in the circumstances.

    Merry Chrismas Fs! I love this blog. Keep it up!!!!
    .-= Neal @ WealthPilgrim.com´s last blog ..Plan For Retirement – The Unconvention Yet Clever Way =-.

  9. says

    I see this as word games.

    John Prine wrote a song called “Dear Abbey” in which he poked fun at her by pointing out that her advice always comes down to saying “you are what you are and you ain’t what you ain’t.” That’s what you are doing by defining “rationality” as “whatever you do.” If rationality is whatever you do, then there’s no such thing as irrationality because you are always doing what you are doing. Most people don’t use the word “rationality” to mean “whatever you do.”

    The kid who ruins his future by failing to study is not choosing this course after evaluating his alternatives. He is failing to think things through. The rational thing would be to think things though. He is acting irrationally. It is the same with the one who smokes too much without thinking things through or the one who eats too much without thinking things through.

    It is possible that someone could elect to smoke after thinking things through and making a rational choice that this is the best option. But that’s a rare case. Rationality is not the default behavior. Rationality takes effort.

    .-= Rob Bennett´s last blog ..“Fixed Income Should Equal Age, BUT Adjusted Up or Down Depending on Valuations” =-.

  10. says

    @Rob Bennett
    Does rationality really take effort? Are you really saying that all smokers are stupid? Smokers smoke because the positives they get are better than the negative outcomes. They’ve thought it through, and I don’t think for one second a smoker doesn’t know the repercussions of his/her actions.

    I see your point, but rationality takes no effort. It’s not rare for people to think things through. People are much more gifted at thinking things out than you believe.

  11. Charlie says

    hmm. I think worrying about others and constantly trying to get them to change is stressful. We obviously want what’s best for our loved ones and friends but often what we want for them isn’t what they want and just leads to friction. I still think it’s good to lend advice and share one’s opinions every now and then after all, that’s what friends are for. But forcing someone to change tends to backfire.

    I was watching the biggest loser a few months ago, and before the youngest guy was kicked off, he had been sent home as part of the show for a few days as part of that week’s challenge. Unfortunately he gained weight that week and was kicked off the show as a result, but he had a great emotional realization before the results were announced. He realized that it was his mom’s utmost love for him that drove her to keep asking him to watch his weight. He was just being a teen and thought her nagging was b/c she didn’t understand him or care about his feelings, which drove him to eat more and more until his health was in serious trouble. Maybe if the mom hadn’t been so pushy to start with he wouldn’t have gotten so big, but hopefully now that he understands how much she truly cares he’ll be able to keep shedding off the pounds.

  12. Lovingkind says

    It’s so true what we want for others may not be what others want. Maybe, it is what they want, but they may find it difficult to do the way you want them to do. There is a great deal of wisdom involved when we try to give others advice. If we don’t have enough wisdom, we may end up getting ourselves frustrated and make others to backfire.

    I believe in the Law of Cause and Effect 100%. Its more complicated than one can think of…

  13. says

    I remember seeing that episode too. I do believe the kid will change, now that he understands his mom truly wants what’s best for him. And that’s the point. We CAN’T change people who don’t want to change.

    It seems as if too many people try and give too much advice. I just hope that other’s just let people be more often.

  14. Mike Hunt says


    I agree with the philosophy of the world being as it is. But what about your ability to influence changes, decisions on other people as well as on yourself? This takes conscious choice, conscious effort, especially if you want to break a habit or create a new habit.

    What about that present moment when you are actively forming and making a choice? I believe there is no rationality or irrationality at that point, there is just the moment of creating an outcome to the best of your ability.

    Rationalization after the fact is along the same lines as looking to the past and concluding that everything is fated to happen the way it did. Hindsight will always be perfect in this regard but when looking at the moving frame of the present moment you cannot make the same judgements.


  15. says

    @Mike Hunt
    Mike – You make your point very well. What about the smoker though? He smokes everyday, and lives in the present making the decision to smoke everyday. He loves it, even though he knows it’s bad for him. We can tell him it’s bad, but he’s not stupid. He knows. Hence, we can only really change when he wants to change, or when he falls ill.

    Creating a positive influence on people is great, but we shouldn’t get all bent out of shape if they don’t listen. It’s their free will.
    .-= admin´s last blog ..The Public Loves Wall Street Again! =-.

  16. ctreit says

    I think it is a stretch to put “rational” and “human” together. I think that our well developed brains gives us the illusion that we can think rationally. But even things like 2+2=4 are rational and true statements only in the context of the axioms underlying our mathematical system.

    And think about the decisions we make, how complex they are, and how little we understand about the issues at hand. Let’s look at a simple decision: what’s for breakfast? How do we know that our breakfast is a good choice? How do we know how our intake (or the lack of it) affects our immediate well-being and our long-term well-being? Maybe it would be better to switch things up a little. But how would we gather the information to decide on this? How could we make sure that such a decision would then be right for us? – We must reduce the basis for this decision and all others to some very simple “truths” or things that we believe are true. What is so rational about that?
    .-= ctreit´s last blog ..Does your family budget have room for a PupStep Plus? =-.

  17. says

    Not really, since employment is a lagging indicator, and a result of past failed policies. If the employment figure doesn’t improve by 2011, yes, it’s all the current administration’s fault.

    If the illusion is our reality, what’s wrong with that? Every reality is based on our own perception. If the basic color green.

  18. Mike Hunt says



    I think the smoker is the victim of a powerful habit. Actually habits are very powerful things and act as repeaters for our original thought or intent. For example if I choose to eat a regular diet of meat compared to being a vegetarian I’m indirectly responsible for the slaughter of tens of thousands of animals in my life. Disclaimer: I’ve been a strict vegetarian for 7 years and only started eating fish again the last 2 months for dietary reasons.

    So breaking the habit of smoking takes a lot of concentrated thought. It does require the smoker to have a powerful reason to change…

    So I will amend my first comment to add that habits have a very big influence on what we do in the present moment and the power of habits is that they are often automatic without much conscious thought. So taking the time to cultivate good habits can pay powerful dividends in your life. And steady saving and living frugally is certainly one of these powerful habits.


  19. says

    Are you really saying that all smokers are stupid?

    No. As you suggest, most smokers know what the story is. They KNOW that smoking is bad for them. Yet they go ahead and do it anyhow. They’re not dumb. But they do not act in accord with how human reason tells them to act.

    It’s the same with those who overeat (I am in this group). And with those who gamble too much. And with those who always fall in love with the wrong sorts of people. And with those who follow Buy-and-Hold investing strategies (I mean that last one as a sort of joke, not to stir things up).

    Humans are capable of rationality. But we often fail to evidence rationality in our behavior. It takes a lot of work to ACT rationally. One thing it takes is discipline. That has to be developed. It doesn’t just happen naturally. Those who lack discipline act irrationality (even though they are perfectly well aware that they are acting against their own self-interest). And emotion can interfere with rationality. If you are emotional about something, you can lose your ability to think clearly. And, in the case of smoking, the addiction interferes. Many smokers as an intellectual matter hate smoking but feel helpless in the face of both a physical and emotional addiction.

    .-= Rob Bennett´s last blog ..“Fixed Income Should Equal Age, BUT Adjusted Up or Down Depending on Valuations” =-.

  20. says

    It is fun to argue either side of any debate. Things can always re rationalized to some degree.

    John DeFlumeri Jr
    .-= JOhn DeFlumeri Jr´s last blog ..Bank Goes Thru Withdrawals & Casinos Quarterless! =-.

  21. says

    @Rob Bennett
    I’m in the camp that we just CHOOSE to ignore the rationality of proper ways, instead of fail to act. If you are in the camp of overeating, you see the effects of overeating everyday, yet you choose to ignore proper eating because foods provides so much more pleasure than any repercussions.

    I understand this, that’s why I overrate for years as well. I already locked down a lovely girlfriend then, had a job with a lot of client dinners to attend, and was happy with my self. But, when I started playing competitive tennis again, I needed to lose about 15lbs to give myself a chance.

    You’re right on the emotional addiction aspect though. It can be blinding, but only temporarily.

    @JOhn DeFlumeri Jr
    Hey John, hope all is well with you! Stay warm in FL.
    .-= admin´s last blog ..Someone Has To Give Birth! Why Women Shouldn’t Be Penalized For Being A Mom. =-.

  22. says

    I get your point and agree with you. Your friend was overweight, knew she was overweight, all her friends and family probably told her she needed to lose weight, but she didn’t start dieting and exercising until she had a reason to lose the weight. Same with your relative who stopped smoking, he quit when he decided to quit. The person who says they hate their job can’t hate it that much or they would have quit already. We all have to make our own decisions regardless of what others think, say, or do.

    I don’t think you fall into the ranks of mediocre bloggers as much as you post. If we write what we want, when we want, and have no editor to answer to whose to say what we do is mediocre? I started blogging because I missed the threaded discussion areas (TDA’s) from my online classes where I had to come up with relevant and current answers for class discussions. I’d spend hours scouring my business magazines and websites for the perfect answer that someone else hadn’t already used. Only now I don’t have to have three posts in seven days or risk getting a lower grade for the week.

    Keep up the good work! I hope you’re enjoying your holiday.
    .-= David @ MBA briefs´s last blog ..You gonna eat that? =-.

  23. says

    @David @ MBA briefs
    Hey Dave, had no idea what TDA’s were until you wrote about it today. Regarding being a mediocre blogger, I just want to be an iconoclast, not following some mantra that I’ve got to post every day, or do this and that. In essence, to write for oneself on one’s own time, while thinking about others of course.

    I’ll probably highlight this goal in the inevitable “goals for 2010” post. Hope you are having a wonderful holiday!

  24. says

    TDA’s were one of the reasons I grew to like the online classes. I hated sitting in a classroom and having some dolt(s) monopolize the professor’s time with stupid questions. In the TDA’s if you didn’t have a well thought out response to the week’s topics you didn’t get full credit, and you could just ignore the dolts. Problem was if you didn’t answer soon after the topic was posted all the good responses were given and you’d have to dig to come up with something original. I’m at work today and next week but that’s OK, I’ll get OT today (rare for us salary types) and I’ve got the DOA next week. I’ll be looking for the Katana.
    .-= David @ MBA briefs´s last blog ..How to analyze stocks like a pro =-.

  25. says

    LOL. This post is funnier than the credit card competition one. Are we supposed to take this seriously? Really? :)

    We human beings are indeed experts in rationalising our ways, otherwise how come plenty of women happily purchase $800 shoes and call them an INVESTMENT PIECE (no, they don’t pay you dividend or increase in value over time). But hey, the shoes might make them feel more confident and give them sense of self-worth hence helping them to score a pay rise or new deals or a new boyfriend.

    In the long run, nothing really matters. But in a short run, it’s fun to poke at people’s (and our own) quirks and stuff. That’s what I think.
    .-= Bytta @151 Days Off´s last blog ..Is Frugality the New Superiority? =-.

  26. says

    @Bytta @151 Days Off
    Glad you enjoyed it! I snuck this post in during the holidays, so not many folks have read it. The concept is pretty sound though, as if I think everything is rational, then I don’t get annoyed or upset at irrational things anymore because everything comes back to center.

    You’re the first person to ask whether a reader should take the post seriously. I purposefully wrote it in a way that’s it’s hard to tell.

    $800 pair of shoes? What about a $7,000 Grace Kelly Hermes handbag! WOW!
    .-= admin´s last blog ..Someone Has To Give Birth! Why Women Shouldn’t Be Penalized For Being A Mom. =-.

  27. says

    Okay two things come to mind, incentives and cognitive dissonance. I wrote about cognitive dissonance here http://evolutionofwealth.com/2009/10/social-psychological-change/. I’m in the belief that people don’t make a ‘rational’ choice to do something. But instead react in the moment or situation because of incentives. In terms of a smoker, how did they start? It was probably not a rational choice of weighing the pros and cons and determining yes I’m going to start smoker. Instead they might have been in a group of cool people they wanted to fit in with and figured none of those bad things they heard about will happen to them because they don’t see it and they were only going to smoke once to fit in. The incentive here is to smoke so they do and maybe they do next time as well. Not because they are rationally deciding that the good outweighs the bad but because in the moment the bad is so far removed. Next thing they know they develop a habit or an addiction. Now they develop cognitive dissonance. Not until that balance is disturbed enough to force a change will a change take place. This is where people can play a role. They may directly or indirectly help to throw off the balance.
    .-= Evolution Of Wealth´s last blog ..Sunday Link Rodeo 14 =-.

  28. says

    Oh c’mon, the part about The Miserable Employee is a dead giveaway.
    In the interest of entertaining your theory; if everything is rational, then your blog has no purpose. You should then stop writing and live in a blissful zen of perfection. How about that?
    Damn, even thinking about it makes me yawn, hehe.
    Get over your holiday zen spirit and write something outrageous.

    .-= Bytta @151 Days Off´s last blog ..Is Frugality the New Superiority? =-.

  29. says

    The miserable employee story is, however, a perfect example of how many people spend their lives, and struggle with it. Perhaps the very last phrase (“as she secretly loves her job”) could be re-written into “as she secretly loves the security the job gives her”.

    I think this is a great article, because it shows how decisions take place on both a rational and an emotional level; some people simply listen more to their rational side, others listen more to their emotional side. And sometimes, emotional based decisions are identified as “wrong” decisions at a later stage in someone’s life, when people have learned to rationalize more.

  30. says

    @Evolution Of Wealth
    For the smoker in your example, isn’t the incentive not really to smoke, but to be accepted and “cool”? And since being accepted and cool is the smoker’s main priority, then smoking is a rational achievement towards happiness. Will check out your post.

    @Bytta @151 Days Off
    My blog’s existence is perfectly rational. I enjoy writing, interacting with the community, learning from others, and debating, hence the site existence.

    This is a serious post mind you, and I’m glad it is engendering some emotion!

  31. says

    You’re right about adding “the security the job gives her”. That’s the point in the example, and something hopefully most people will understand.

    Good point also about “emotional based decisions” trumping rational ones. We should go with our emotions, some of the time, but not all of the time!

  32. says

    Is the problem here then the definition of rational? If a rational decision is just the search for an optimal outcome in the moment then I agree with you about the smoker and their incentive to be popular. However, if we begin to talk about the quality of the rationality we might realize that the decision to smoke is made based on emotions. What role do you see emotions playing in a truly “rational” decision. So does it become even more important for an outside force (person?) to get involved when we see emotional choices?
    .-= Evolution Of Wealth´s last blog ..Sunday Link Rodeo 14 =-.

  33. says

    @Evolution Of Wealth
    Not sure how much emotions play in a “truly rational” decision. Maybe 20%? I don’t know.

    What I do know, with the case of the smoker is that why should we change him/her? He/she derives a great amount of utility from smoking, and if we add up all the positive smoking utility over the years, it may very well be GREATER than the negative utility of lung cancer, shortness of breathe or whatever other ailments that may occur.

    After a certain point, it’s not our place to change anybody anymore.
    .-= admin´s last blog ..The Katana: Lauching The Samurai Fund To Prove A Theory 12/28 =-.

  34. says

    Sorry, I’m not saying the existence of your blog is not rational. What I meant was, if everything was rational, then there was nothing to write about. We’d let things the way it was and would do nothing about it. There would be no progress or improvement.

    As an INTP, I respectfully disagree that everything is rational. If I had to rely my happiness on things and people working rationally, then I would be severely depressed. At least they keep me busy.

    But then again, our mind is malleable and so is our view on the premise of rationality. Evolution of Wealth implied that the quality of rationality is tampered when mixed with emotion. Well, there are many rational decisions reinforced with emotions and whether we like to admit it or not, emotion is the force that compels us to do things.

    And then I see the amount of national debt, reality shows and the price of a Hermes bag and realise that my first notion is correct.
    .-= Bytta @151 Days Off´s last blog ..Is Frugality the New Superiority? =-.

  35. says

    What’s so bad about Rob?

    There’s nothing even a little bit bad about Rob. He’s the greatest! A fine individual. A sweet guy. You know the type.

    The story is that there’s a fellow who got the numbers wrong in a study that he put up at his web site (www.RetireEarlyHomePage.com) and then promoted the study at a Motley Fool discussion board at which Rob posted. Rob pointed out the error to protect his fellow community members from suffering failed retirements and hundreds of community members were excited to learn the realities. The fellow who got the numbers wrong didn’t like this one tiny little bit and organized a Goon Squad to follow Nice Guy Rob everywhere he went on the internet for eight years running and to post defamations of him and try to destroy his business and all this sort of thing.

    Nice Guy Rob would be thrilled if someone would contact him with the name of a good lawyer willing to take on the case on a contingency basis. Otherwise, the best thing to do is probably to insist that site owners take care of the matter by banning the Goon Squad posters.

    Or so says Nice Guy Rob in any event.

    .-= Rob Bennett´s last blog ..“Fixed Income Should Equal Age, BUT Adjusted Up or Down Depending on Valuations” =-.

  36. Tryingto be rational says

    Rob says: “Nice Guy Rob would be thrilled if someone would contact him with the name of a good lawyer willing to take on the case on a contingency basis.”

    What are you talking about? Who did what, and broke which law, and who suffered what damages?

    Just making odd statements about needing a lawyer is unlikely to get you what you want — you need to be specific!

  37. Carlyle says

    “What are you talking about? Who did what, and broke which law, and who suffered what damages?”

    Google is your friend. Just search for Rob Bennett/Hocus or Hocomania and you’ll discover links to far more information than you’d ever care to know about “Nice Guy Rob”! He’s been at this game for several years now. This comments thread from the GetRichSlowly Blog is typical of his modus operandi;


    Oh, Rob’s contention that he discovered an error in a Safe Withdrawal Study? That’s RobSpeak. He faults a retrospective study of what percentage withdrawal rates proved safe over past periods of time because it didn’t predict future withdrawal rates out to 3 decimal places like Rob claims to be able to do. But that’s but one of many peculiar beliefs Rob holds near and dear. Google is your roadmap to explore the phenomenon of Rob Bennett, should you have the time and interest.

    Laws broken? Damages suffered? Nope, only in the imaginary world which resides in the mind of Mr. Bennett.

  38. says

    @ Bytta – I write because it’s fun, and you respond because you have something to say. You’re right in that PROGRESS is what will lack, and progress is my one word for happiness.

    And therein lies the issue… if we are absolutely happy with everything we have, we wouldn’t need progress!

  39. says

    @ Carlyle/Trying To Be Rational – Interesting stuff. Have to admit Rob, you have very “unique” perspectives!

    Pls don’t send the goons over here!

  40. Bitsy says

    Every morning you have a choice. Allow your life to go on as things have been going, or make a change. Do you hate the chaos and uncertainty of change more than you love the progress that comes from improving your life?

    So, do. Or do not. It’s your choice, take responsibility and take action or simply shut up and sit down. Not changing things is also a choice, but most people won’t admit it because of the cowardice it implies.

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