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Food for Thought

A Talk By Gladwell , The Language Issue And Connection With Arranged Marriage

I recently watched an interesting talk by Malcolm Gladwell on the Pitfalls of Market Research and found it very interesting!

I particularly liked the piece where he talked about an experiment by Tim Wilson at UAV which he called as the Poster Test.

OK, those of you who are too lazy to watch the whole video and understand what I am referring to, jump to 22:50 minutes and watch the part.

For those who are lazy enough to even do that, let me briefly explain the experiment.

Tim Wilson got together a bunch of students and divided into two group. He had few posters to give away. To one group he said: “Pick any poster you want and take it home”. To the second group he said: “Pick any poster you want. Tell me why you want that poster and then take it home”. A couple month later Tim called the students and found that students in the first group (who didn’t have to explain their choice) all liked their posters. While the students in the second group who were asked to explain their choice, now hated the poster! Also, the people in the first group picked a different kind of poster which was abstract impressionist art work, while the second group picked very trivial and less arty poster (that of Kittens hanging on bar)

So, the observation or finding was that when people are forced to talk about their choices and justify/defend them, their preferences change – in a negative way; that is, they gravitate toward the less sophisticated choice. And the insight from the experiment was that it’s actually “Language problem”. It is possible that people in the second group did not have right vocabulary to explain the abstract impressionist poster, even though in their heart they liked it. It would have been easy to come up with a reason to justify why they selected a trivial and less arty poster – for example, they liked Kittens as a kid. So just by adding a condition of having to articulate their choice the preference could be changed. People in the first group did not have this burden of articulating why they chose it.

Now this experiment may not be generic, or it could be too far-fetched to develop any common “wisdom”, but the experiment itself was very thought-provoking.

It immediately made me draw parallels with another domain – which I unfortunately developed a lot of knowledge of – that is Arranged Marriage.

Now, the non-Indian readers may not exactly know what “arranged marriage” is, as opposed to Love marriage. So here are couple of lines. Arranged marriage is alliance sought based on particular parameters such as Horoscope match, Height, Weight, Body Type, Education, Job/Career, Hobbies, Religion/ Caste, Location and many other factors. It is also a form in which lot of discussion and argument and reasoning takes place among two families before arriving at “Yes/No” decision.

Did the last part ring bells (not wedding bells!)? It is the discussion, reasoning part where I could draw parallels with the Poster Test and the Language problem. People engaging in Love Marriage are like Group 1 students. They are rarely required to “explain” their choice – unless it goes against some fundamental belief or expectation set by the larger family. E.g. Religion or Education level etc. But by and large Love Marriage is like Group 1 students – they can just walk away with their choice. People condemned to go for Arranged Marriage (yes, nobody willing goes for Arranged Marriage of the kind I described. It is mainly because they do not have the necessary persona and skills to fall into love) are like Group 2 students. If they find a match suitable they have to explain it to their family members (and often relatives) before they can walk away with “poster of their choice”. And that is where the language problem is often seen. Lot of people don’t know what they are looking for – their ideas are usually shaped by someone else, or based on what is on “generally preferred” list. So they have no idea how to explain why they found a particular match suitable. And as a consequence, some may even lose out on making the right decision – if they take too long to explain. It also impacts the negative choice. When you don’t find an arranged marriage proposal fit, usually you are expected to give some reason and say No. Honestly telling that reason could be brutal! So people sugar-quote things and convey a polite No. Again, the language problem. I would also imagine some really unfortunate instances where you end up saying “Yes” (and regret whole life) because you couldn’t articulate your “No”. Just the necessity of explaining your choice can have such a devastating effect! 😊

Anyways, I think I am drawing unnecessary parallels when there exist none. The tormenting process of Arranged Marriage can create a permanent thinking handicap! But the core idea of “Language problem” is very interesting; and I have talked about it with my friends often in a different way.

For example, can we think without a language? Will I be a different person if I start thinking in different language? Because my ability to “express” effectively in another language could be limited. So it might impact my true choice – of feeling, words and action. I have seen that people who don’t speak a certain language as well appear silent, introvert and thoughtful when they are in group of people speaking that language. Whereas the same person may appear talkative, extrovert, reactive when he is talking in his native language – because he can better express his true feelings, and actions.

Do you agree? Or have I completely messed up the idea while translating my thoughts from my native language to English? In either case, I have made my point! 😊

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Puzzle: High School Algebra

An Important Lesson In Marketing

An important lesson in marketing!

Successful sales are always a bit strange & unique…

#Sales #Marketing

Source: Twitter

Euthanasia, David Goodall, Himanshu Roy and “102 Not Out”

Of all topics or subjects I am passionate about, the two that occupy the maximum space in my head are – (1) Life, and (2) Death.

And they are connected in so many ways…

The purpose of this post is to write about confluence of news/events related to Death in this week or past few days.

Few weeks ago, the Supreme Court of India passed a historic verdict allowing Passive Euthanasia. The Supreme Court defined Passive Euthanasia as “a decision to withdraw life-saving treatment by a patient who is competent to take decision as well as with regard to a patient who is not competent to take decision can be termed as passive euthanasia, which is lawful and legally permissible in this country.

The definition is very specific and narrow – it doesn’t cover voluntary suicide of all kinds. Though it was a significant decision after years of lobbying. It was the unfortunate Aruna Shanbaug’s case that changed euthanasia law in India.

Today I came across a news that a high profile Mumbai Police Officer Himanshu Roy committed suicide. At first glance I thought it was a suspicious plot – because Himashu Roy was ex-head of Anti Terror Squad in the state and had pursued many such cases. However, after reading the article I understood that he was suffering from a late stage cancer. He was a fitness freak and couldn’t handle the suffering anymore and hence decided to end his life. Did his case fit Passive Euthanasia? Not sure. However, he chose his own way.

This news struck me hard because of another news that happened yesterday. David Goodall (age 104) Australia’s oldest scientist, David Goodall, ended his own life at a clinic in Switzerland, surrounded by family and while listening to Beethoven’s Ode to Joy.

Though very old, Goodall was fit and fine and was not suffering from any terminal disease or illness. On that ground Australian Government had denied him permission for euthanasia. But Goodall’s view was that why should he be forced to live? Goodall had seen his eyesight and mobility deteriorate considerably in recent years and said that his life stopped being enjoyable “five or 10 years ago”. He was fed up with life and hence he decided to go to Switzerland where medical assisted suicide is allowed.

Goodall ate fish and chips and cheesecake and listened to Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in final hours yesterday. He was surrounded by his family members. He even spoke publicly at a press conference before embracing death:

In fact his last words were: This is taking an awfully long time!

What a courageous man!

Interestingly, just last week a Hindi movie released in India titled 102 Not Out which has a humorous take on old age and death. It is a story of a father (102 years old) and his son (75 years old). Father reads in the news that world’s oldest person (116 years or so) has died and gets excited that he can now have a shot at that record if he lives till 116. However he feels that his son, the 75-year old man who is very pessimistic and naysayer is a stumbling block in his ambition. So he decides to send his son to Old Age Home! To avoid that, the son agrees to change his behavior and world view. Interesting plot! (Based on a stage play in Gujarati).

This story is good for a movie, however the real world story is totally opposite – as confirmed by the two news quoted above. A lot of people want to live with dignity, and a lot of them also want to die with dignity.

There is a beautiful poem/song in Marathi which summarizes this feeling in perfect manner. It says:

संधीप्रकाशातअजूनजोसोने, तोमाझीलोचनेमिटोयावी

While there is twilight (while I am healthy and agile), I should breathe my last…Great thought!

Geometry Puzzle

What is the area of Pink region as a % or fraction of total area of square?

Thought of The Day

25th April 2018

Good Read: How Long Is A Quarter? 6 Months If You Are This Indian “Startup”

I came across a couple of interesting articles on Reliance Jio (Mukesh Ambani’s $38 billion “start-up”) suggesting that the accounting practices (just like a lot of other things at the Ambani Group) could be dubious. I want to write something on valuation and Indian equity markets since a long time…meanwhile do read this article.

Ambani’s Mobile Startup Packs 6-Month Sales Into a Quarter

It is not clear if it is accounting fraud or just “massaging the numbers” within the permissible accounting rules. But this definitely calls for a closer look at the Reliance Industries performance.

Seneca on The Shortness of Life

Read this before you sleep tonight, and think about this when you wake up tomorrow

(Source – Seneca on The Shortness of Life)

7 Sins In The Digital World

I indulge in 4 out of 7 (Digital) Sins. How about you? 🤨🤓

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