Two Roads Diverged In A Wood…

When we think about decisions, the classical picture of two roads diverging in a wood comes to mind:

forestfork

Mostly we live our days dealing with one decision at a time because that is all that we can manage. Is it any wonder that with such a perspective we often end up traveling along a path that we regret. In reality, we would have to consider the wider course of our actions and the cumulative impact of many decisions. This is subject to strenuous probability analysis and even advanced calculations cannot eliminate the uncertainty. Our daily path through reality involves many separate and simultaneous decisions, and should be visualized from a bird’s eye view:

decision-tree

Apart from the decision paralysis that would likely result from such a perspective, this picture – albeit more realistic – is just not welcoming to the 99.999% of the population who aren’t totally captivated by probability and graph theory. Let’s narrow our focus to a particular thought experiment:

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