Arbitrary exclusion criteria

July 1st, 2009 by ftobia

Society does a pretty good job of separating the Haves from the Have-Nots. But the rest of us — that is, for those of us who are not anthropomorphisms of the whole of society –  need mechanisms to do this excluding.

Let’s say you’re putting on a concert. You need ways to separate the people who paid vastly more for their tickets (otherwise price discrimination breaks down). Bouncers and signs are good mechanisms. The signs can say something like “VIP ONLY”. So, without the bouncers, you could think something like “Hey, I’m very important, so I guess this area is for me,” or alternately, “Screw whoever put this sign here, I’m going in.”

The best exclusion criteria are arbitrary. “Danger! Do Not Enter” signs are pretty awesome, especially if you put them in front of somewhere even more awesome, and even more especially when the area is not dangerous. That way the only people who would enter are those who are undeterred by such signs. This trait is surely correlated with awesomeness, leading to selection bias against lame people.

In general it’s best to be a law-abiding citizen, but sometimes rules are meant to be broken. The most important skill here is to know which rules should be followed, at what time and in what context, and which should be cast into the heart of Mt. Doom. Wikipedia agrees with me.

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Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported.