You might remember reading in Predictably Irrational that it turns out that when we are choosing between two or more very similar options, we tend NOT to take into account the consequences of not deciding. For example, in the parable of the donkey, the unfortunate creature is placed in the middle of two identical stacks of hay. Unable to decide which stack to go for, the donkey starves and dies.
In another example, a friend of mine spent three months choosing between two different cameras, only to miss countless photo opportunities that he will never get back. And given how similar the two cameras were, he might have been better off simply flipping a coin.
Now, you may have heard that Brett Favre is either retiring or not retiring from football. Again. Given this, the following exchange should not surprise you:
Facebook friend’s status: (sarcastically) breaking news: brett favre dead at the age of 40
Me: So I read somewhere about a donkey that was placed in a room with two identical food sources, and the donkey starved to death because it couldn’t decide which food to eat. Therefore, I found it completely believable that Brett Favre died of indecision.
Apparently the people over at Slate find this believable also, and have even gone so far as to provide a nice infographic that sums up Brett Favre’s waffling over the years:
You can see the full article here, complete with an interactive version of the graphic. I would like to conclude with an open letter to Brett Favre:
Dear Mr. Favre, (I would ask if you prefer I call you Brett, but I am wary of the time I would waste waiting for you to decide)
I hear you have some trouble making decisions. My econ buddy Dan has some insight into this area, and he thinks that he has a product that can help you. It’s an iPhone app called Procrastinator, and it allows you to set limits on the amount of time that you have to make a decision. If you don’t make a decision by the deadline, the app chooses for you. (Unfortunately, this decision is obviously not binding, but perhaps that functionality will appear in a version 2.0.) You can find the app here, and I think it would really help you out. If you’re still not convinced, here’s a screen shot:
Think about it…but don’t spend too much time deciding.
You can see the full Graphic Content archive here.