richard - englewood, Colorado
Entered on March 12, 2009
Age Group: Under 18


I believe in the basic rationality of humanity. This, however, is not to say that human beings are infallible. People make mistakes all the time, myself included. But these mistakes are not the product of faulty logic or rationale. More often than not mistakes can be traced back to a bad assumption or a bad piece of information.

I stumbled upon this belief when I was faced with a choice concerning time management. It was Sunday night. I had two tests Monday morning, one immediately following the other. Needless to say, I was feeling the crunch and began to regret the procrastinating that had taken place over the weekend. I knew that I would have about forty-five minutes in the morning to study and maybe ten minutes in between class. So far it would seem reasonable to split the remaining time I had to study between the two subjects but I was willing to make the assumption that my Spanish test would be far easier than chemistry based on previous experience. Because of this acquired knowledge, I chose to spend the majority of my time studying for chemistry and cram for Spanish right before class. Having come to the conclusion of this line of logic, I realized that this kind of rational decision making takes place all the time in every aspect of life. One of the most important issues that deals with this kind of rational decision making is the matter of mutually assured destruction.

Mutually assured destruction is a doctrine of deterrence which states that the use of nuclear weapons by opposing sides in an armed conflict would result in the destruction of both sides. This would clearly benefit neither party involved and, since most people are rational beings, a nuclear war has not yet taken place. Like every other decision, the resolution to go to nuclear war is, essentially, a cost/benefit analysis. After taking into account the potential consequences of an action and the corresponding benefits, one makes the decision that is most likely to bring about the desired outcome with the smallest cost.

Everyday I make decisions that are based on the idea of costs and benefits. Should I play video games instead of studying and risk a low grade on my next test? Should I launch a nuclear weapon or try to find an alternative? Should I risk my health and have another dessert or resist the temptation? Should I speed up to make the light or am I willing to wait? These questions, whether consciously or unconsciously asked, are all examined, each option and its potential consequences weighed, and a decision, usually a rational one, is made.