Off Beat - Week 2

  • While watching the Comedy Premier League (CPL), I was left frustrated the audience's vote. Some teams were making run-of-the-mill jokes laced with a ton of bad language and winning rounds against teams that were doing genuinely humourous sets. At one point, I realized that the rating used to judge the team of comedians was also actually judging the quality of the audience. This was a typical case of Wittgenstein’s Ruler.

    Wittgenstein’s Ruler: Unless you have confidence in the ruler’s reliability, if you use a ruler to measure a table, you may also use the table to measure the ruler.

    For example, in the case of CPL, the audience score was an extremely unreliable measure to judge the quality of performances. Therefore, the score was also telling us about the quality of the audience. An extreme example of that would be a B-Grade level movie getting nominated for Filmfare Award. The nomination doesn’t improve the quality of the movie, but it just downgrades the reliability of the people who picked that movie. Thus the nomination is judging the movie as well as the panel of judges.

    Thus, often before getting riled up by the judgments coming your way, remember that people passing judgment on you are also passing a judgment on themselves. Do not feel hurt. Instead, look deeper and choose your criticism. For example, often, I have passed judgments on people who took small risks and failed. “Oh, they could/should have this or that”. Now I realize that it says almost nothing about the risk-taker who failed but spoke volumes of my ability to dish out judgments without doing much. Your opinion of something also speaks volumes about you.

  • “If something is boring, avoid it –save taxes and visits to the mother-in-law. Why? Because your biology is the best nonsense detector, use it to navigate your life.”

    - Nassim Nicholas Taleb in Commencement Address, American University in Beirut