Tag Archives: life

Foolproof Equations for a Perfect Life

The BBC documentary “Foolproof Equations for a Perfect Life” was broadcast last night on SBS TV.  This documentary, by Garth Sundrem, attempts to show how mathematics can be used to help make rational decisions about all aspects of our lives. Even how to get a date. now where are my old maths books?

Whilst somewhat light hearted and lightweight the documentary did show how the brain can be easily tricked and how, no matter how rational we think we are, we are still prone to make irrational decisions sometimes.

I liked the segment where he got people to meet someone new and just before they met this person they were given either a hot or cold drink to hold. All the people who held the hot drink thought the new person was a nice guy and they would probably employ him. The cold drink holders either didn’t like the new person or were ambivalent towards him. Yes it was a very small sample size and not a very scientific experiment, but if I’m ever looking for a new job I’ll try and get the interviewers to hold a hot cup of coffee first.

Another interesting section was the topic of “loss aversion” where even though we stand to gain more than we would lose, our fear of loss prevents us. They demonstrated this by presenting people with money in two different ways and then asking them to gamble of not. The people who ‘thought’ they were making a loss gambled, even though they had already made as much money as the people who hadn’t ‘made a loss’ . You can see this section of the documentary here.

There are more sections of the documentary on the above link or supposedly you can find the whole documentary in five parts on youtube.

Scientific Blogging also has  a nice write up on this documentary.

Overall, interesting and a bit of fun, but not to be taken too seriously. As Garth says himself in the comments on the above link:

Of course it’s pseudoscience! Didn’t you get the joke? It’s funny, when I give book talks, my best audience is mathematicians with a sense of humor and my worst audience is mathematicians without…

To modify an equation from the comments on Garth’s blog:

A + (B+B(n+1) ) + C = D

= me,
= Bourbon (or Beer, or whatever your favourite tipple is),
= Chocolate, and
D =  Depressed lonely person

I’m sure there a few of us who live that equation?



Filed under life, mathematics

get out of my way

Whilst driving home this afternoon behind a car doing less than 80km in a 100km zone my mind wandered to how much of my time this person was wasting. Now sure, I waste a lot of my own time, but that’s my concern, when someone else wastes my time then I can complain?

Then I got to thinking, I know that when I die, that’s it, game over, no more credits. So all the time on earth should be precious to me. So I worked out, on average, I’ll be alive for about 42,000,000 minutes, and this slow poke in front of me is costing me some of those precious minutes.

Now this is when things got really weird, I thought what if this person in front of me is a Christian? If they are then they probably don’t care too much about losing a few minutes here and there on earth because they think they get to spend eternity in heaven.

So I wondered, would I get away with a verdict of justifiable homicide if I’d blown this idiot away? I know there is no heaven, they think there is, therefore they don’t care about wasting their time, and consequently mine, whereas I do because I know that’s all I get.

That also got me to thinking, why do Christians try to stay alive? If they believe they are going to heaven, and heaven is supposed to be such a wonderful place, then surely they’d want to get there as fast as possible? So perhaps they should all drive like maniacs, without wearing seatbelts, or paying attention to road rules. (funnily enough a little while later I came up behind a car which had the jesus fish and a ‘jesus lives’ sticker on the back, naturally I gave it a wide berth) 🙂 Perhaps Christians shouldn’t pay attention to OH&S, or any of those safety signs, maybe we should put Christians to work in all the really dangerous jobs because they wont mind if they get killed because they get to go to heaven anyway?

I have a long drive home and get very bored sometimes 🙂

PS. I don’t advocate homicide in any way shape or form. I don’t advocate for anyone to drive recklessly or disobey the road rules, and I don’t really advocate that people should disregard safety or be forced to work in hazardous jobs.

Also, I have justed wasted well over 40 times more time writing this blog than any slow driver ever caused me, but gave myself a bit of light hearted relief in the process.

Cheers all.

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Filed under atheism