Author Topic: Variables  (Read 649 times)


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« on: November 12, 2008, 12:08:42 pm »
So, I almost got off on a tantrum about this in another thread, but I decided to start a new one.

I'm curious about something; does anyone else think of everyday life in forms of variables?  I approach complex situations by figuring out constants of the situation based on past experiences and logical guesses, then when there is something I'm not sure of (A persons reaction for example) I apply a that situation a variable.

I "solve" for the variable by creating many situations in my mind.  If I can think of the persons reaction(s) I figure out how I'll respond to the situation.

I guess an example would be best?  Assume I've just met a person for the first time, threw a friend of mine.  The person will be henceforth labled as Person A, and the friend of mine is Person B.  I will assume traits of Person A based on what I know about Person B, then, to test the waters with Person A, I will bring up common areas of discussion between myself and Person B, and depending on how Person A reacts, will decided what I say next.  If Person A reacts poorly to the topic, I would try a different topic to get a second situation.  After a few topics I would gather what I have figured out about Person A, and assume other traits about them.  So on and so forth.

So, I'm aware that a lot of the time the only way to get to know someone is to ask them questions about themselves, but, does anyone actually think about these kinds of things in forms of equations?


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Re: Variables
« Reply #1 on: November 12, 2008, 12:58:50 pm »
I originally didn't have variables A and B in the other thread, but I changed it to make comprehension easier. So I guess my answer is "no", but then again I don't really do this that often, so perhaps if I did I'd use variables a lot more.

If you want a good way to get to know someone, my personal favorite is to ask their dreams, desires, and ambitions.


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Re: Variables
« Reply #2 on: November 12, 2008, 04:58:59 pm »
Intelligence is based on recognizing patterns in order to simulate reality and allow prediction. How you go about framing things in your mind may be different, but the same rules apply. Even a fool does the same thing in one form or another.

Although I do think that actively putting most things into simplified mathematical terms a cognitive waste of time, but then I have other heuristics to use for breaking down people and their ways of thinking that have served me quite well. You can learn a lot without ever asking a single question, but it can take a bit of time and a good eye for observation, though to really get inside someone's head you do have to poke around a bit. You really have to understand people though, and that means being extremely honest about yourself and your own weaknesses and motivations.

Anyway, the main problem I'll point out with your current method is that it doesn't allow you to get beneath the outer layer of a person's reasoning and behavior, because you're essentially giving a survey to the person and trying to figure out everything about them from there. The other problem is that it assumes that friends are like their friends, or that the members of any group are inherently similar, which as an underlying assumption can easily lead to unreasonable prejudice and even racism.

The reality is that the reason you may know so much about person B isn't all of your "variable" and "equation solving," but the collection of observations and experiences you've consciously and more so subconsciously collected about person B that allow you to get inside their head and predict their thoughts and behaviors.

So if person A isn't like person B at all, you end up wasting a lot of time and only superficially getting to know person A.


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Re: Variables
« Reply #3 on: November 21, 2008, 05:28:25 pm »
Recently I have been trying to think in the Butterfly Effect, not quite the same as what you mean, but still close. Basically, it's cause and effect, and a way of looking at variables. For example:

Person A is sensitive. Person B teases Person A. Person A becomes upset.

It's trying to see the patterns in the way people act, react and the consquences of this. So, yes, I do, in a way, think in variables.