Learning how to make good decisions is a key to living your best possible life. What makes a good decision? What makes a bad decision?
Here’s a quick little doodle that offers one way to think about sorting bad from good decisions. It’s a notional quadrant diagram with good decisions on top and bad decisions on the bottom half. As you slide toward the right the decisions are biased in favor of a larger group and as you slide right the decisions are biased in favor of smaller groups and individuals.
There’s a limit on “goodness” because a perfect decision requires infinite knowledge across all things for all time. The upper edge can be viewed as utopian thinking, with a collectivist utopia in the upper left and an individualist utopia in the upper right. When you look at defining collectivist utopia (a perfect society) and an individualist utopia (an individual free of any constraints or obligations in society) it becomes somewhat obvious that they cannot coexist simultaneously. Utopia is unreasonable and impossible because there are flawed assumptions built into utopian thinking regarding the perfectibility of human nature. Humans are flawed and neither evolution nor coercion will fix that.
In conversations with young adults I’ve often heard the puzzling comment that one person’s utopia is another person’s dystopia. It took some dialogue before I discovered that they were effectively thinking “utopia for me but not for thee”. Their understanding of utopia was only for a subset of society. My point exactly. Utopias are impossible, and whenever a society over-reaches for perfection it will collapse into dystopia.
Steering back to the topic here, every individual and every group is a victim of their own bad decision making. Dominant factors leading to bad decisions are
- A lack of knowledge (ignorance),
- Wrong knowledge that was intentionally given to you (lies),
- Wrong knowledge from erroneous interpretation of available information (fallacies)
- Emotionally-driven decisions: Fear, Hate, or Apathy
- Lack of time or resources
Conversely, good decisions involve efforts to get the best possible understanding of reality given the available information, then applying that understanding in the pursuit of moral and ethical goals.