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A new set of eyes

Several years ago, Alexander von Humboldt's concept of the "Web of Life" profoundly changed my perception of the natural world. Fast forward to LEAP's Bootcamp 3, particularly on 'Economics for Everyday Life' and 'Statistics', have similarly revolutionized my understanding of the human world.

After intensive classes, readings, and engaging with "Money Ball", my perspective has been refreshed. I've learned that control is an illusion, and the key is to recognize and adapt to changes. Our reliance on past experiences might blind us to new realities.

How an illusion of being in control can prevent the control over a game from emerging and how the quality of decisions can be deteriorated. We may do what worked in the past and fail to grasp that the circumstances could have shifted and a successful strategy from past or the so called “experience” could no longer be as relevant. We may fail to see what the world is telling us when that message isn’t the one we long to hear. The modules concluded so far at LEAP program now opened my mind to think that we sometimes like being the rulers of our environment. When the environment actually knows more than us.

I experienced and even explored that our neural wiring sometimes doesn’t allow us to really grasp probabilities. We may have not yet been evolved to be able to understand inherent uncertainty. Our distaste for numbers leads us to make decisions based on the pattern-recognition and intuition, gut feeling, hunch. In everyday life, we only tend to notice chance when the dice roll counter to our expectations. I must confess that I could have been congenitally blind to the silent tilling work of randomness until it kept smoothening the reality in my favour. As soon as it grows rough and things become unfamiliar, I would begin colouring chance with emotional interpretations.

I’ve now learnt that our experiences may surpass everything else, but most of those experiences are amazingly skewed - they teach us, but they don’t teach us well. And that is why disentangling chance from skill is so difficult in everyday life decisions. However, experience used in the right way, can be a powerful ally in understanding probabilistic scenarios. The correct systematic process can help us unravel chance from everything else in a way that no amount of theory ever will.

Success in an endeavour stands at the fulcrum that balances two forces in our lives — chance and control. One turn and you’re on top of the world — another, you are cast out, no matter your skill, training, preparation, aptitude. Skill shines through over the longer run.

These two modules and the boot camp was a learning on how mathematics can depersonalize chance and furnish the emotional self-control necessary not to let small fluctuations of fortune derail us. How the fascinating psychology of locus of control affects our outcomes; how to use rational toolkits for not just surviving but thriving in uncertainty; how to live with the fact that however great our skill and however much it can mitigate the work of chance, it can never be enough to entirely undo it !

Rahul & Aswani’s selection of activities and works of philosophy, were a curation of wonderment that bypassed our ordinary resistances and our understanding. They managed to enter the backdoor of consciousness and remind us to think, re-think and constantly keep thinking of who and what we are. It was as if an invitation not to mistake difference for defect.

Although the modules began with some basic concepts of economics and statistics, it then transitioned into the power of data visualization, that reveal hidden patterns. Above and beyond being able to befriend numbers it also helped me find the difference in self-interest and selfishness - the unconscious stand-in for conscience.

How people make choice and how they should be making choices?

How is morality built into the fabric of the world?

Being introduced to Economics has eventually indeed not only rewarded me with a new set of eyes but also retrained my brain to be able to look at the world in a different way.

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