(This is the discussion that prompted the creation of this method of estimation.)
Everyone has some amount of phobia about uncertainty, and anything that’s outside of habit and our comfort zones introduces uncertainty.
In most everyday situations, it’s enough to break a task down to its smallest possible first step, and then just do that.
This is where confusion may play a part, because deciding the smallest possible thing to do first requires a judgment call in an area the person doesn’t understand.
There’s a real risk of failure.
Using an example from real life, Boneflour has been trying to get me to write some ad copy to sell myself.
I agree that I ought to do it and I want to want to do it.
But you put me front of a blank piece of paper and I realize I have no idea where to start.
Not even the smallest, tiniest first thing. The ideas of “writing a question at the top of the page” or “defining your customer” didn’t occur to me until just now, in retrospect.
Since this is a bad example, I’ll skip to the end and create a better, hypothetical one.
I wrote some ad copy and it was 80% cringe. Failure. But, it was an encouraging failure because I can improve on it.
Imagine someone hands you a musical instrument that’s unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. Nothing you knew about music before transfers, not even the ideas about tonality.
Then they say “teach yourself this”.
This is approximately the same as being born as a child into a world you don’t understand.
Then they say “take the tiniest first step”. So you fiddle with one of the bits and it breaks off.
The instructor screams at you that you’ve just broken an instrument worth thousands of dollars.
That’s more or less the experience of growing up in a world where the adults aren’t all entirely functional.
Evangelion really does this part of the human experience better than anything I’ve ever seen. I think that’s why it’s such a therapeutic show for people with depression/learned helplessness.
Deeply flawed adults randomly alternating between praising and screaming and you feel like there’s an overarching plot going on in the background but no one is bothering to explain it.
All the while you’re trying to get used to how your new body works and every now and then a nightmare breaks out.
There’s a great bit in the End of Evangelion where Asuka makes a psychological breakthrough where she “finally understands everything” and charges in gallantly, then gets skinned alive.
If that’s not the experience of being a 14-year-old girl, I don’t know what is.
Anyway, the point is that comfort zones are comforting for a reason, and it’s hard to make judgment calls when you’re anxious.
So if you’re inclined to not do something out of confusion, the first thing to do is decide whether you ought to do more homework first.
After all, the prospect of being skinned alive for not understanding the potential cost of taking the first step should give us a little anxiety.
Asuka may not be best girl, but she is best case study.
Here’s the scene: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0AY27gLWhtM
If the risk of death was deemed sufficient to outweigh trying anything for the first time, we’d never leave the house
But if we never left the house, we’d never reproduce.
Thus rationality, properly understood, requires irrationality.
That Asuka scene is also a good illustration of the sort of euphoric stress response Dutton talks about.
Means can be rational, ends seldom are, when you boil it all down
Transcendent is one kind of irrational.
And, Mr. Piety argues, the correct kind of irrational.
I didn’t used to like the names mathematicians gave number sets like “real”, “transcendent”, and “imaginary”.
But I do now.
Because they make great metaphors.
Imaginary numbers are another kind of irrational, just as imaginary ends are irrational.
And, Mr. Realist would argue, not the right kind of irrational.
As the moral fable of Ms. Asuka and the Satanic Seagulls illustrates.
The euphoric stress response adds an interesting twist here
One would asusme it would reduce time until task completed
Or improve quality over the same time
Or just leaad to burnout and delays
There’s a number of fctors here that would influence how that would work
That’s Asuka’s character arcs in a nutshell.
She starts off as a prodigy then spends the last half of the show in a bathtub.
This is a good reminder to hug your children and not let them find you hangin from da batroom.