comment by niceguyanon ·
2013-11-08T21:38:35.944Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
Not sure what to label or call this thinking error I had recently, but it seems as if it might come up more often, although I can not come up with another example for now.
I know someone who signed up for a marathon and I was to be part of the coordination of getting her to the official transportation area. After signing up online she was able to choose from a set of departure times for the bus take runners to the start line. Her wave is set to start at 10:15 a.m. She wanted to select the latest possible departure to avoid idle time standing around trying to keep warm and to her surprise the latest departure was 730 a.m. The ride to the start line is short so that would mean at least 2 hours of standing around in the cold. Why? It was rather annoying for both of us. It just seems terribly inefficient. Of course I am sure the organizers have their reasons. So I started to wonder about what those reasons might be. Take a minute to think up of some of your own.
I came up with some satisfactory reasons why 7:30 is the last bus out:
Traffic logistic reasons – shutting down a major city is a big job, crowd control and tight timelines are good things.
Later start – Daylight savings gave everyone an "extra" hour and this was already considered a late marathon anyway, 7:30 a.m. doesn't sound that bad.
For a few days I was happy with my reasoning but this problem, although trivial, nagged at me. On the morning of the marathon day something went wrong and the 7:30 a.m. departure had probably already left. I cursed the marathon, and we both wondered, yet again, why the hell was it so early to begin with? A two hour wait for her, would be an almost three hour wait for those in waves later than her's. This absolutely screws over the people in the last wave regardless if they caught the last bus. Why didn't they have a later option so that the poor person starting at 10:45 isn't a Popsicle before they start? That way, if she was late and there was still room she could catch a ride outside of her scheduled transportation and still make the race with plenty of time to spare. We were frustrated but what else could we do but to try anyway. There was probably a non advertised "real" last departure to catch all the people that missed the last departure, but even so, I just don't get it. The happy ending is that she was able to make her race. And I figured it all out once we got there why 7:30 a.m was the last departure.
7:30 isn't the last departure, it never was. The system that processed the runners knew their wave start times and gave them appropriate albeit early departure times. People in later waves received later choices. We both had assumed that just because we were offered 7:30 a.m. that had to mean that was the last time for everyone. It was not. And suddenly everything made sense. They wanted everyone wave to be at least 2 hours early, and restricted the the choices so that not everyone would cram into the last slot.
I was angry with myself for not catching something so simple. I was asking the wrong damn question. I made an assumption that had fundamentally set me on the wrong path since the beginning, and I was never going to solve it no matter how reasonable I was with my thinking because my original premise is false. It is especially infuriating that I had made a mental effort to think outside the box when thinking about this problem yet I missed this completely. Crap, it seems like I needed to think outside of outside of the box. What else have a missed? There are probably many times in life where I am trying to understand people's motives and completely failed. I guess we can file this under the "jumping to conclusions" thinking error?
Replies from: None, Gurkenglas
↑ comment by [deleted] ·
2013-11-11T06:11:42.010Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
We both had assumed that just because we were offered 7:30 a.m. that had to mean that was the last time for everyone.
Well, you applied a heuristic (assuming that everyone else had the same experience you did), and the heuristic turned out to be wrong in this case. One of the following must be true:
- This heuristic isn't a good heuristic to follow in general.
- This heuristic is good to follow in general, but there's something that should have indicated it would be wrong here.
- This heuristic is good to follow in general, and there isn't something that should have indicated it would be wrong here.
I'd start by figuring out which one it is.
↑ comment by Gurkenglas ·
2013-11-08T22:48:42.178Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
Why wouldn't they want to cram everyone into their last slot? It's the same number of transported people per time, only the starting and stopping of the transportations changes, and everyone has to wait 2 hours in the cold or be relatively rewarded for being late.
Replies from: niceguyanon
↑ comment by niceguyanon ·
2013-11-09T05:17:09.736Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
Why wouldn't they want to cram everyone into their last slot? It's the same number of transported people per time, only the starting and stopping of the transportations changes,...
Presumably because there is a maximum amount of people that could be transported per given slot. 10k+ of people per wave could not possibly fit into three departure times. And as the slots filled up your choices would be further restricted to available but undesirable earlier departures.