Jul 29, 2010

Heuristically Speaking :o)

Heuristics are “rules of thumb,” the quick, common-sense principles people apply to solve a problem or make a decision. They aren’t “rules for living” that you consciously try to apply; rather, they're deeply embedded, often unconscious, rules that you use to make decisions, answer a question, or decide a course of action.  A heuristic is a general way of solving a problem.

Conservativism is sometimes recommended when adjusting our beliefs or methods in light of new information. A well established belief should be overthrown only when one has solid evidence against it. An otherwise reliable method should be changed only when it meets significant failure.  Many people are adverse to taking risks.  Below are some common rules of thumb, could you live with the results?

  • For marketing purposes, elderly consumers think they are 15 years younger than they actually are.
  • When you're playing blackjack, assume that any unseen card is an 8.
  • If your back hurts more when you climb stairs, walk up a hill, or get out of a chair, you need to do extension exercises.
  • If you don't want a cat to jump into your lap, don't make eye contact with it.
  • When ants travel in a straight line, expect rain. When they scatter, expect fair weather.
  • To get the most out of your car, treat it like a favorite cat or dog. [Not sure how a belly rub would have prevented my truck from breaking down last weekend]
  • When the bird and the bird book disagree, believe the bird. [If you can, get a picture, this will give you a chance to truly identify the bird]
  • If your feet are cold, put on your hat.
  • Any gadget that does many things will do none of them as well as a single-purpose device.
  • If you are talking with an American whose legs are crossed and he wiggles his foot at what you say, he either disagrees with what you are saying, or he wants to add to it, or he wants to talk about something else.
  • Recovering an unused physical skill takes one month for each year of layoff.
  • People do not change as they get older. They just become more of what they are already.
  • If you're worried that you don't have any interests, browse in the nonfiction section of a library for five minutes. By then a book will catch your eye.

Can you think of some additional examples?  Here are the ones that come to mind for me immediately (one good and one absolutely not so good :o):
  • An apple a day keeps the doctor away.
  • A womans place is in the kitchen.


  1. That 'no' or 'I don't know' is a perfectly fine answer to a question you are uncertain of the consequences of.

    That should be worth a point!

  2. Go slower....I'm writing these down. "Any gadget that does many things will do none of them as well as a single-purpose device" is absolutely true!

  3. this is interesting stuff to think about... I may use this


Tell Me What You Think, Don't Make me go Rogue on you :o)