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What defines a choice?Many scientists of different disciplines have written extensively on this subject and formulated ideas and formulas on how and why choices are made. Some developed equations like production functions, multi-vector matrixes, probability functions, Gauss curves and fat tail distributions to explain what outcome to expect from inputs used. Others examined how we come to a choice: Abramham Maslov reasoned that our decisions are based on a hierarchy of five groups of needs (physical, safety, affection, esteem and self actualization); Albert Tucker explored the game elements in choosing based on a join-or-beat-them idea in a prisoner’s dilemma; Steven Levitt & Stephen Dubner showed in “Freakonomics” that the causes of events can be different from what seemed obvious just by looking at them from a different angle; Richard Thaler & Cass Sunstein explained in "Nudge" how the decisions of many can be gently nudged and influenced.In the 19th century Newton’s laws made people think that the universe worked like a clock-work and that in the end, when all equations be solved, we would be in control. The 20th century brought us uncertainty. Albert Einstein came with his relativity theory. Gustav Jung and Sigmund Freud questioned the ability of people to think and make rational choices. Karl Popper made himself unpopular amongst Marxists and Fascists by disagreeing with their assumption that history determines our future. In this century one became aware of the fact that reality is not just a set of mathematical equations but that there is also such a thing as unpredictability - Benoit Mandelbrot and others developed the chaos theory. More recently Nassim Talib, in his book "Black Swan" addresses the limitations of many of the philosophical, mathematical and empirical theories on decision making. He gives examples of events that had a big impact on history; all seemed to come out of the blue, unexpectedly and nobody had them foreseen. As he puts it, could all the mathematical empirical models ever have predicted out of that cloud of stardust so many years ago that you would reading this now?All these people made excellent contributions to the understanding of how things that have happened do or do not influence decisions. Their books are interesting to read. They give an insight into the many aspects that play a role in the making of a decision. One wonders whether these scientists and their theories, when it comes down to it, make the job of a decision-maker any easier?Two main parts of a Choice In the literature on choice mention is made of a large variety of choice-types. They are not covered here but examples presented on this site illustrate how a choice can be constructed. They have in common that they are arrived at in a collaborative manner, take into account the use of public funds and allow for both rational and intuitive considerations in the making of a choice. These examples consist basically of both a "Head" and a "Guts" part:
Features of a Choice
UnpredictabilityButterfly's wing can create Chaos
Sustainability We want more butterflies.
ImprovementA munching caterpillar works to become a beautiful butterfly
Head: This is the part that is structured rationally and systematically. It is based on data and evidence collected and analyzed by experts and it demonstrates how the data are followed through so as to arrive at a choice for their specific field and area of concern.
Guts: This is the part of a choice in which, at each level, a decision maker can intuitively add weight to the parts of the structured choice and is able to alter these weights to try out the effect of this change on the outcome of a choice.
A choice is neither purely "Head" nor "Guts." The examples show it is a combination of both and that it is possible to test the Guts feeling of the decision maker so as to reveal how changing the weights effects and influences a choice.