C-183. Making “Good Decisions”

What good can good decisions do if decision making isn’t a good thing to do? And there is no simple good way to do it?

It makes sense to make use of those ways that have demonstrated their value (C-177: our ways) … and to examine the qualities and quantities of those ways. Most especially with respect to needed functionality – with more than a nod to the independence and interdependence of need and want, lest “want => need”/”need => want” reach an addictive, even traumatic level (XI; C-148). But….

First thing: Decide whether to decide. The best decision might be to come up with a new solution (Compose!) instead of choosing from available solutions. Such is Frontier life (C-118), as much a matter of before-the fact (e.g., what might and ought to be) as after the fact. And consider the import of the QL-point (0). Human quality of life teeters precariously (and unevenly across individuals and communities) at “0:Sp,” where even good solutions have problems. These solutions pose the secondary problem of needing to be shared within and across generations of step takers (e.g., situational problems of distribution and instruction).

On the principle of “least effort,” decision making tends to trump problem solving. And the ratio (D.M./P=>S) seems to be getting worse (C-98). But lack of capability plays a part too. Realization protocols for problem solving are not well developed … for lack of an R-sense (C-128,147,149) ... such that responsibility/capability >1, defeating the potential development of Responsibility < = > capability (C-173).

The limited efficacy of deciding between or among available solutions does not stop here. There’s the matter of 0:S-P: Methods used for prior problem solving can turn out to be problems themselves: Infections. Indeed: plagues. Such as the “B-ness” of the BPO bias (C-39; 180) and the consequent need for the SGN correction (C-104,135), the correction necessitated by miss-Reading the Expansion (C-170) via the B-transform’s homogenizing objectification of foci of attention. Such that anything is a thing. Even a thingk is a thing (C-27).

Second thing: How to decide.

Decision making breeds problems of its own (0:Ps). When alternative solutions are arrayed against functionalities, there are often “missing cells in the matrix,” there are measurement (valuation) difficulties re respective functionalities, there is no apparent singularity because some solutions are better in some respects but other solutions are better in some other respects. This last condition may elicit a pre-decision among the functionalities (“qualitative reduction” of the data matrix).

Most disconcertingly, consequential (aka material) needed problem-solving functionalities may not even be included.

What about layers laid upon layers of decision making, as in organizations where the control system dominates the operating system (XI; C-36), where leadership is forfeit to management? And when previous decisions are the subject of a new decision, such as seen in the frantic alternating between two old tactics or two old strategies -- thus inviting trauma.

Collective decision making is inherently R-erosive (C-125), dissipating the strength and/or power of whatever Union (C-112) has been achieved (e.g., the decision’s “loser” factor affecting minding per se: “There’s no use talking to you!” – abandoning conversation’s back and forth progress potential).

New mass media have drastically increased the propinquity potential for collective action, but bringing behavioral entities closer together in B-spacetime when our Grasp and development of step making and taking in R-spacetime is so weak hardly appeals as This Way forward (C-177). More collisions but no commensurate increase in collision Arranges – i.e. the steps toward or away from collisions. Propinquity-flawed tactics should yield to the strengthening consequentiality of balanced, developed interdependence strategy … within the molecular step, between steps as in conversation (C-174) and with respect to the body < = > step dictate of the Nature of Things (III; C-121: evolution < = > development).

Third thing: When to decide. For humans, as for all molecular step takers, This Way comprises a succession of needed functionalities in a context of continuing needed functionality (III) … of situational problems and of the unending behavioral problem (I). When is making a decision most relevant to needed problem solving?

(With the behavioral problem unending, the interdependency of [P => S] <= > [D.M.] is always relevant. Life as but a succession of decisions misconstrues, after and before the fact.)

“Initiative and review” sets out a minding technology: Develop solutions and then subject them to review. Given the desirability of an effective interdependence of responsibility and capability, a task force seems a particularly apt tactic for initiative. Given a large R-entity (C-147) such as a nation, a representative form of government seems an apt tactic for initiative.

But when to review? What if review intrudes on initiative? Notably as in the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign, in which decision making trumped problem solving (C-148: [D.M.]/[P=>S] >1+) in civic discourse for nearly two years. And in anticipation of which, (D.M.)/(P=>S) >1+ reigned in the U.S. Congress and media for six years.

As elsewhere, the potential strengthening of interdependence (here, of [D.M.] < = > [P=> S]) must insist on the independence of the two (e.g., no confounding “problem” with “issue”) and no unbalanced development of each (e.g., as in technologies). See XI; C-71.


And then there is the matter of a secondary, potentially more consequential, type of post-decision cognitive dissonance. Festinger’s post-decision cognitive dissonance occurs when, and to the extent that, a rejected alternative’s value is lost. The dissonance effect is one of affect. The decision’s obverse relation re alternatives is cognitive.

The decision to decide (in the first place) rather than to problem solve, to settle for available alternatives instead of pursuing a new solution, introduces an analogous cognitive dissonance condition for D.M. vs. P =>S, and with far more potential consequentiality than this or that decision among available alternatives … as, for example, when the decision to decide bears on the persisting behavioral problem and not just on this or that situational problem (I).

(Brehm and Cohen’s point, that the commitment evoked by a decision adds force to primary post-decision cognitive dissonance, should apply to this secondary case as well. But only if the decider was aware of having adopted the strategy of deciding to decide? What if a “consumer culture,” a “menu” technology and a tutorial emphasis on “making good decisions” blinds the individual to both need for and development in problem solving capability? This in the face of our many still unsolved problems. An egregious lack iof R-sense?)

Consider too the developmental prospects for communities (App. XXII; C-112: Union) of deciding to decide. There is no obvious pain here, a cognitive dissonance analogous to the body’s defensive capacity, to alert us … notwithstanding such indications as lower and lower voter turnout and “vote ‘No’” expressions. (But see App. XVII’s DPA profile, which could cue concern for imbalances and their destructive import for interdependency – i.e., developed step strength [C-173]).

In light of the very useful Search feature now available in the home page, parenthetical back references are suspended for Comments as of C-184.

(c) 2017 R. F. Carter