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Issue 15: Houston, We Have a State Transition

Yes Houston, I tried jiggling the knob, that was the first thing I tried!

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Ego-San on the Sting of Defeat

Facing cognitive dissonance due to the failure of a goal requires choosing between delusion, metamorphosis, or quitting.

To give up your dream for the pursuit of it forms cognitive dissonance on multiple layers.

  1. The initial goal, G, was not achieved, so the mind has to contend with absolute failure. The system (other people, the planet, whatever) has rejected you from attaining the goal you set, despite your best efforts.
  2. Any future time spent on the dream becomes a sunk cost fallacy (I got this good, so I can't stop now, right?). As a fallacy, it only continues to get worse. Confirmation bias (which can be avoided with a simple strategy that is discussed below[1]) also prevents you from seeing other routes, locking your routine into the literal definition of insanity: “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.[2]
  3. The self you've cultivated and the strategy you have chosen have failed to materialize, and you realize you can't become the person you needed to be to attain your ultimate goal due to a combination of values/self-belief/etc.

In order to break the cognitive dissonance that is born from this paradox, the goal-failer faces a crossroads:

  1. Option one is to delude themselves into thinking that they never wanted the goal to begin with (sour grapes). This is a poor long term strategy due to the investment spent in fulfilling the goal with limited resources (financial, time, etc). Delusion is chosen carefully as a word here. It is delusion because you know the truth. You know you have failed to do what you set out to do. As a defense mechanism, you pivot to protect the visage of self you've put effort into.
  2. Option two is to transform into the person that can attain your dream. Much like how Barou realized there was no satisfaction to his goal of becoming the world's best striker by playing the way he always has, he was forced to evolve into a new person through the despair. The impossible combination of his ego, his skill, and the reality of the other players on the pitch broke him at his base and a new person was formed. This metamorphosis is a new person, with a new hypothesis and a new set of values, with the same goal. The Bayseian updating part of the mind takes in the new data and reformats the core assumption.[3]
    1. This new person as a willful organism has their goal in the front of their mind and can only be stopped by the laws of the universe (physics, genetics, etc.). In the long term, this strategy also succeeds at removing cognitive dissonance, but importantly, does not involve delusion. The goal-failer accepts their failure into their hearts and realizes to become the success they envision, the only route forward is to sacrifice the version of themselves that prevent attainment of their goal.
  3. Quit. Self explanatory.
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Top Three Apps I'd Delete If You Gave Me Your Phone


I would delete Snapchat, Paramount+, and most dating apps from people's phones. Online dating can be time-consuming and male-dominated, but there are some exceptions like Hinge, which uses a matching algorithm. Cultural differences can also affect how people use dating apps. However, there are some funny and interesting aspects that can emerge from the social game theory of dating apps. A program exists to help clean up phones by deleting unwanted apps.

Top 3 apps I would delete on people's phones:

  1. Snapchat
  2. Paramount +
  3. Most dating apps

Why Dating Apps?

Online dating sucks. You’re much better off trying to meet people in real-life situations, where there is a more reasonable ratio of men and women, you can learn more about people then their favorite vacation spots, and the people have a lot more time to learn more about you too.
Or, you can try meeting people online but not in a surface-level dating-oriented site. Plenty of people formed couples through discord or their favorite video games. Unfortunately my understanding is that most online places are still male-dominated, but hopefully that’s changing as we are becoming a more tech-oriented and women-inclusive society. (View Highlight)
Have you read the cold start problem? The online dating marketplaces optimize for women and the men naturally follow.
Ie. If there were a bunch of single women in any marketplace, men would naturally flock there, like any social media platforms dms
The users for online dating are women, men are the commodity (View Highlight)
I've been thinking about whether friendships could be described as having a purpose beyond personal fulfillment, and I think it shares some parallels with dating. One of modern dating's great albatrosses is the hedonistic treadmill: the Tinder-induced "Welcome to Hell" of meeting, connecting, dating, and ghosting, repeated ad infinitum. Dating around is a perfectly good way to pass the weeks and months and years, but at some point, if you're not committing to something – building towards a "we" that exists outside of yourself – the initial thrill of intimacy begins to take on a saccharine, artificial quality (View Highlight)

In terms of supply and demand, men are very heavily supply side and women are very heavy demand side. Out of any random number of men, women get to "demand" the best partner for them.

Due to how the "approach game" works, men are usually the ones who "open" leaving women to respond to potential options/suitors.

On dating apps, scale starts becomes a factor quickly. Women are virtually approached by a high number of suitors at the same time instead of sequentially, changing the dynamics of the game substantially.


Stability, Hinge

Hinge, one of the hottest dating apps out there, differentiates itself from its rivals like Tinder or Bumble by building a ‘like’ system similar to Instagram which allows its users to ‘like’ another user’s posts or photos, instead of doing simple arbitrary swipe left/right for someone’s entire profile. This article discusses how the Gale–Shapley algorithm, an algorithm that solves The Stable Marriage Problem has been applied to Hinge’s platform. The parallel it draws between how Hinge first compiles a front page for you with people that the algorithm finds most compatible with you and how the show Love Island populate a room full of men and women picking from each other points straight out how the algorithm has been implemented on the front end. (View Highlight)
Just like what we learned in class, a stable marriage contains two individual who both prefer one another, Hinge is always trying to have their users reach that state of stable preferences which could lead to a stable and happy relationship. (View Highlight)
Essentially, this classic matching algorithm from the 60s enables users nowadays to better pursue their love interests and relationships digitally online in a highly effective way. (View Highlight)

Not Just an American Phenomenon

Looks like all the dirt of the city assembles here only,” says a man sitting with his wife and three children under a tree in the Kalindi Kunj Park against the backdrop of the Delhi Eye, a 200-foot-tall ferris wheel.Arun believes it’s the man’s persistence to woo them that matters to most women. “People from my strata don’t have the option to trust anyone quickly. How much a person can wait is ultimately the sign of their interest. We don’t swipe each other on apps,” he says while pointing to a cheap smartphone in his hand. Even though China-made affordable smartphones are making inroads among India’s poor people, dating apps such as Tinder remain the province of wealthier people because of the social stigma associated with dating and premarital sex.“High-profile people like you can go to restaurants or hotels. We have just parks”, says Arun, an 18-year-old commerce student.
Take polyamory. I had a revealing conversation recently with a student at an elite university. He said that when he sets his Tinder radius to five miles, about half of the women, mostly other students, said they were “polyamorous” in their bios. Then, when he extended the radius to 15 miles to include the rest of the city and its outskirts, about half of the women were single mothers. The costs created by the luxury beliefs of the former are borne by the latter. Polyamory is the latest expression of sexual freedom championed by the affluent. They are in a better position to manage the complications of novel relationship arrangements. And if these relationships don’t work out, they can recover thanks to their financial capability and social capital. The less fortunate suffer by adopting the beliefs of the upper class. (View Highlight)

Occasionally Dating Apps Do Indeed Work

So, I downloaded Tinder, in an attempt to prove to myself that I still possessed worldly desires. Resultantly, I met up with a cute girl named Sundae on a lantern-lit patio. (Location 449)

And There Are Some Great Bits That Emerge From The Interactions/Social Game Theory


This program helps you clean up your phone by deleting apps that you may not need. Based on a set of criteria, it deletes Snapchat, Paramount+, and dating apps if you are a man or have had negative experiences with online dating. The updated list of apps is then returned. Try it out and see how it can help declutter your phone!

Phoenix, Arizona (and More!)

Intuitively, I'd think that all the top 5 most populous cities would be the ones that come up most in conversation. The actual top 5:

  1. NYC
  2. LA
  3. Chicago
  4. Houston
  5. Phoenix

Cities I hear people mention a lot:

  1. NYC (1 in population)
  2. LA (2 in population)
  3. SF (17 in population)
  4. Miami (44 in population)
  5. Boston (24 in population)
  6. Seattle (18 in population)


Fastest Growing (big cities[1]):

  1. Fort Worth, TX
  2. San Antonio, TX
  3. Phoenix
  4. Oklahoma City
  5. Las Vegas

Fastest Shrinking (big cities):

  1. SF + Bay Area
  2. NYC
  3. Boulder, CO
  4. Boston
  5. San Jose

Interesting that people are leaving the North to move South. I think that may be due to the fact that baby boomers are retiring and want more amenable tax brackets + sunny weather. Also, when a certain percent of friends or family move to an area, it becomes more costly to not follow them.

smaller pop = greater delta so I'm skipping those ↩︎

The Silent Side Effect

Area under the curve doesn't look super good for Xanax

(View Tweet)

The rebound effect of drugs is an insane, under appreciated side effect due to future discounting. Being in pain now warrants a cure, but it may be the proverbial "kicking the can down the road" with mental sedatives. This is also caused by the locality of pain tolerance, and the immediacy of it all.

This doesn't even begin to address the folly of the Tragedy of the Commons caused by big Pharma.

Some drugs cause individual withdrawals, others cause societal ones.

(View Tweet)

The Silent Dominance Battles of Twenty Somethings

Pride leads to arrogance and then away from humility and connection with their fellow man. You don’t have to be Christian to see the wisdom in this. You need only to care about your career to understand that pride—even in real accomplishments—is a distraction and a deluder. (Location 1017)

When catching up with people you haven't seen in a while, the desire is high to immediately jump into conveying the most braggadocios news about yourself since you have last seen the person.[1]

Amongst type-A American millennials, the re-sync is the prime opportunity to enter a non verbal tourney with your peer, to puff your chest out and compare size through success or failure.

Are you still living at home with your parents?
Did you get that promotion?
How's your girlfriend doing?
I'm sorry to hear about…
When did you move to …? What's your rent?

A human version of the chimpanzee dominance display.

In fact, when I've tried to avoid discussing myself for experiment or out of a desire to avoid the spotlight, it seems to come off as rude. ↩︎

Cartman's Personal Importance

You take it personally because you agree with whatever was said. As soon as you agree, the poison goes through you, and you are trapped in the dream of hell. What causes you to be trapped is what we call personal importance. Personal importance, or taking things personally, is the maximum expression of selfishness because we make the assumption that everything is about “me.” During the period of our education, or our domestication, we learn to take everything personally. We think we are responsible for everything. Me, me, me, always me! Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves. All people live in their own dream, in their own mind; they are in a completely different world from the one we live in. When we take something personally, we make the assumption that they know what is in our world, and we try to impose our world on their world. (Location 428)

This is especially true among the twenty somethings who are old enough to take bets for status and dominance but too young to have the experience to see how those bets play out 202212270339

The Principal-Agent Problem

The Principal Agent Problem:

Only 1.5 percent of the purchase price goes directly into your agent’s pocket. So on the sale of your $300,000 house, her personal take of the $18,000 commission is $4,500. . . . Not bad, you say. But what if the house was actually worth more than $300,000? What if, with a little more effort and patience and a few more newspaper ads, she could have sold it for $310,000? After the commission, that puts an additional $9,400 in your pocket. But the agent’s additional share—her personal 1.5 percent of the extra $10,000—is a mere $150. . . . It turns out that a real-estate agent keeps her own home on the market an average of ten days longer and sells it for an extra 3-plus percent, or $10,000 on a $300,000 house. When she sells her own house, an agent holds out for the best offer; when she sells yours, she encourages you to take the first decent offer that comes along. Like a stockbroker churning commissions, she wants to make deals and make them fast. Why not? Her share of a better offer—$150—is too puny an incentive to encourage her to do otherwise. (Location 872)

I had an experience like this in NYC where it felt like my broker was trying to offload me into an apartment as quickly as possible to get their cut and move on to different clients.

In general, I try to avoid working with people who have conflicting incentives to my own.[1]

one of the reasons I avoid VCs -- their incentive is effectively opposite of a founders ↩︎