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One to One (1:1) Assumptions

Seems that our language often makes us dumb. In our language we are weaned on notions of “cause and effect," "hard work and rewards," practice and excellence.” We assume that twice as much noise emanating means twice as much trouble or that twice as much work that is being done. People assume that the stench of alcohol on one's breath is proportional to the amount of alcohol imbibed. We figure twice as much study will improve marks two fold. How does toothpaste make teeth three times as white and how can that be measured?

Apart from this, we've all heard about the proverbial “straw that breaks the camel's back” i.e. the “tipping point.” In chemistry in a titration experiment, we add 476 drops of reagent and nothing seemingly happens until the 477th drop when the entire solution in an instant turns purple.

But too few of us have grown to appreciate “J” and “S” and “U” curves as well as asymptotes and how correspondences between and among variables is essentially never 1:1 nor a straight line perfect correlation.

So often, a teenager will eat a particular substance and later experience some discomfort and she immediately assumes a strict 1:1 cause-effect relationship, ignoring the likelihood that it might be a host from hundreds if not thousands of other variables. When someone says, “I've tried everything” I know that I might quickly name a thousand things not tried be it holding one's breath for 30 seconds or jumping over a crevice in a sidewalk 13 times.