Note to recruiters

Note to recruiters: We are quite aware that recruiters, interviewers, VCs and other professionals generally perform a Google Search before they interview someone, take a pitch from someone, et cetera. Please keep in mind that not everything put on the Internet must align directly to one's future career and/or one's future product portfolio. Sometimes, people do put things on the Internet just because. Just because. It may be out of their personal interests, which may have nothing to do with their professional interests. Or it may be for some other reason. Recruiters seem to have this wrong-headed notion that if somebody is not signalling their interests in a certain area online, then that means that they are not interested in that area at all. It is worth pointing out that economics pretty much underlies the areas of marketing, strategy, operations and finance. And this blog is about economics. With metta, let us. by all means, be reflective about this whole business of business. Also, see our post on "The Multi-faceted Identity Problem".

Sunday, September 7, 2014

On language

Language shapes the world we think about the world. But not in the way that you might think.

Take the word "Aidos'. As Sriram Padmanabhan points out, it is a word in Greek that has connotations of shame.

"The ancient Greeks apparently had a few words that are difficult to translate into English. One of them was "AIDOS". It means a kind of reverence or shame, the feeling that a prosperous man should have in the presence of the unfortunate - not compassion, but a sense that the difference between him and them is not fully deserved. " [@Sriram Padmanabhan]

Aidos is not shame per se. Precisely speaking, the word is difficult to translate into a "single word" in the English language.#NoSingleWordExistsButYesMultipleWordsCanCaptureTheIdea

If you ask me, I feel that that even though one may feel this emotion from time to time, it is not healthy, psychologically speaking, to harbor it. If you think about it, this emotion seems quite irrational. I would even say that is not how Man was intended to live his life- feeling shame for one's good fortune seems unnecessary. There is something to be said for American evangelical Christianity's attitude towards good fortune - if you have good fortune, just thank God and help other people. Why feel shame at all?

In a very powerful way, language shapes the way we view the world. If the word "Aidos" does not occur as a single word in one's language, say, English,one is much less likely to feel this emotion. After all, what better example of this is there than the sociological fact that there is very little class envy in America despite high levels of inequality. And this is partly because this is a sociological phenomenon in a country that speaks English. Which does not have a "single short word" for the word "Aidos". People only use words that are available to them. This is a form of judgement bias (the basis introduced by the "availability heuristic") similar to other judgement biases such as the loss aversion bias. Indeed, we tend to fall into certain set behavioral and thought patterns because of the availability heuristic introduced by language.

I think this "availability heuristic" is very powerful in the way it shapes we way we think about the world. There has been some recent research to suggest that language does influence the way we think about the world ( But more important than the question of whether we have different words for the color blue is the question of whether we use language to fall into certain set behavioral and thought patterns.