Your Decision Tree And What It Means For You

     You’ve probably seen the phrase decision tree before. It’s become a frequent element in op-ed columns such as this one. While it looks forbiddingly formal and technical, it refers to one of the most pedestrian things in human life: our priorities and how we use them to make choices.

     Everyone has priorities. However, you’re only aware of some of them. Others are buried in your unconscious mind. The latter ones assert themselves through mechanisms your conscious mind can’t gainsay.

     For example, let’s take risk-aversion. Everyone has some sense for that one. It pertains to how much risk you’re willing to accept in the pursuit of some objective. But context matters. In some contexts your aversion to risk will differ from what you deem its usual level.

     The gambler who’s down to his last few bucks and faces the prospect of confronting several large, unfriendly persons over an unpaid debt will readily take larger risks with those dollars than the solvent, debt-free family man who has no such worries. Yet that same gambler, equipped with the same amount of cash and unthreatened by the attentions of a loan shark’s leg-breakers, would sneer at a display of Lotto tickets…and the family man, were he to face the possibility of calamity for his loved ones, might take a much larger monetary risk to avert it.

     Risk-aversion is one of the criteria that separate law-abiding men from criminals. But the criminal might well display the same apparent level of risk-aversion as the law-abiding man according to the size of the prospective payoff…or the identity of his prospective target.

     There’s also the frequent divergence between the imagined risk and the actual risk. Visions of great wealth, great glory, or great vengeance can make a man wish away a risk that he would see plainly and accurately under other circumstances.

     Why yes, this is about the so-called vaccines for the Chinese Lung Rot / Kung Flu / COVID-19. However did you guess?

     All the following factors play into an American’s decision to accept or not accept The Jab:

  • The probability of catching the disease.
  • The probability that the disease will be fatal.
  • The probability that the vaccine will prevent the disease.
  • The probability that the vaccine will have side effects worse than the disease.
  • Awareness of alternative approaches and the probabilities associated with them.
  • Any incentives and coercions associated with accepting or not accepting the vaccine.
  • The probability of significant changes to those incentives and coercions in one’s personal context.

     The most significant thing about the above factors is that all of them have large error bars. No one’s sense for any of the probabilities above can be firm enough for confident decision-making.

     That isn’t the case with most older vaccines. The polio vaccine, for example, is well understood. It has been demonstrated to be effective and safe, in the 99%-plus sense in which those words are usually used. But the record of polio vaccine in use is open to anyone who cares to study it. And the polio vaccine wasn’t urged – in some districts, forced — upon us by political forces and agencies with spotty records for veracity.

     In other words, we are being asked to make a potentially life-altering (possibly life ending) decision under a dense, dark cloud of uncertainty. In such conditions, the choice made by some will appear unreasonable to others, perhaps even hysterical.

     If I may speak solely for myself, I intend not to be vaccinated for COVID-19. My decision is based on my complete lack of trust in the “authorities” urging the vaccine upon me. I’m sure there are others for whom that lack of trust will be just as decisive. Moreover, Heinlein’s famous dictum about lies and liars is much with me:

“A thousand truths do not mark a man as a truth-teller, but a single lie marks him as a damned liar….Lying to other people is your business, but I tell you this: once a man gets a reputation as a liar, he might as well be struck dumb, for people do not listen to the wind.”[Robert A. Heinlein, Citizen of the Galaxy]

     Given the lack of reliability of the Usurper Administration – and really, what better could we expect from a gaggle of men and women who literally stole the White House? — added to the numerous, well documented complete reversals of position by Anthony Fauci, the CDC, the WHO, and other pseudo-authorities, there is essentially no prospect of those persons and agencies regaining my trust. Your decisions are yours to make, but as a life rule, “Don’t trust the statements of a proven liar” is one of the more reliable guides to sound thinking and right action. It’s right up there with “Put not your trust in princes” – and that one has demonstrated its soundness over and over for millennia.

     Some relevant links:

     Have a nice day.


Skip to comment form

    • SWVaguy on August 6, 2021 at 8:04 AM

    If lockdowns worked, wouldn’t current covid cases be negligible, reduced to a tiny blip on the radar?

    • John in Indy on August 6, 2021 at 8:12 AM

    The polio vaccine was also broadly debated among both actual medical scientists and politicians, between the Sabin attenuated virus oral vaccine and the Salk killed virus injection.

    When a bad batch of vaccine got out, and killed ten or so people, Eisenhower announced the screwup, and said that we would do better, and we did.

    That level of honor, honesty, and trust has been squandered for personal gain by the uniparty and the .gov.

    John in Indy

      • Wry Mouth on August 6, 2021 at 4:42 PM

      John: thanks for the anecdote about Eisenhower! I was unaware of that. We use the Salk vaccine trials in biostatistics/epidemiology classes as an example of a hypothesis being so strongly confirmed in the data collection process that the trials were curtailed in favor of getting the vaccine out. But the Eisenhower tale — gives the efforts at the time more depth and humanity.


    • Weetabix on August 6, 2021 at 10:35 AM

    You have accurately reflected my reasons for not getting pricked.

    • Steve Walton on August 6, 2021 at 3:42 PM

    Good list of reasons.

    The “coercion to take the vaccine” is the biggest red flag to me. They are not being truthful as to why they insist you have it. They may simply be trying to do the right thing to stop what they perceive as a very deadly threat (and be too ignorant to know how wrong they are), or they may be injecting you with a biochemistry that will ensure your timely contribution to Gaia’s salvation by reducing the population to a few hundred million (and, very much aware of what they are doing, after a space of time for plausible deniability).

    Either way, I won’t be taking it unless forced by a goon with the open muzzle of a gun. And even then I might be tempted to kick the gun out of his hand and shoot him with it.

    • Wry Mouth on August 6, 2021 at 4:39 PM

    An aquaintance of mine notes that he inturn knows a young college-bound woman, who is hesitant because such a vaccine has not been evaluated for long-term effects on reproductive systems. How and why whould this young woman be coerced into getting the vaccine, when she has reasonable concerns?

    I speak as someone with some background in biostatistics/inferential statistics/ hypothesis testing. I yself agreed with my friend — her reasons weren’t of the “wild-eyed” rumor variety. She’s clearly thinking things through.

    At the same time, I got the vaccine, but not because of personal preference (I am below 80 years old, with no comorbidities in pulmonary or circulatory systems (that I am aware of, heh)).  I did so because some of my relatives, with whom I have fairly regular interaction, strongly wanted me to. So I did. No problem. Their reasons for wanting me to were not as real-worod rational as the young lady above, but, you know —

    They were understandable.

    Mr. Porretto, I have wondered whether or not the world had to arrive at a certain critical load of secularism/materialism before such a wide-ranging curtailment of liberty could be successful. My hypothesis (heh) is based upon the observation that materialists believe that *this life is all there is* and that it is precious because life is short, blah blah blah. They have no hope in anything other, or beyond, this. And I think those people — sadly, even in my family, people who once tasted eternity and a connection with Another Cosmos — the secularists, are driving the fear and risk-aversion, because they see the “payoff” of losing the bet — eternal destruction/annihilation — as far outweighing any payoff for winning.

    It’s Pascal’s wager, but inverted?

    Thanks for your musings here, and also your longer works, which I have found somewhat startling to my worldview, thus provoking examination.

    :Wry Mouth

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