Sunday 15 September 2013


Why Having Too Little means so Much is the title of a new book by Eldar Shafir (Globe 14 Sept). He informs us that we only have so much bandwidth available in our brains. Scarcity hijacks a lot of it, and that explains why poor people make poor decisions.  Scarcity of money takes up all of their bandwidth.  Shafir is critical of government agencies that offer welfare payments but impose a high cognitive load on the poor, such as making them fill out forms and adhere to office hours. You see, the distraction of poverty can cause subjects to drop about 13 IQ points in a matter of minutes, which makes filling out forms between 9 and 5 practically impossible.

Thanks for explaining that to me, Professor Shafir. Now I realize why I can’t get my IQ up. It’s the serious distraction of choosing a handbag, which imposes a high cognitive load on my brain. As Sarah Hampson explains in the Globe (14 Sept), a bag isn’t just a bag. It is the New Boyfriend this year. A Beau Bag is the ideal companion to tote around town, but he’s an expensive escort: $500 and up. Okay, maybe Sarah is joking, but due to a scarcity of handbags and boyfriends, my IQ has been dropping like a stone, and humour is becoming hard to discern. The handbag/boyfriend choice is highjacking a lot of my bandwidth.

Clearly I need to draw a line in the sand, like Obama with chemical weapons, but more effectively. He lost traction after Putin highjacked his bandwidth with a piece in the NY Times.

Why the hell would Putin want to publish anything in the NY Times? To get on the bandwidth of American voters of course, those poor sods who are already juggling mortgages worth more than their houses and are being told that Americans are nothing special. If that cognitive load isn’t a serious distraction and will make their IQs plummet, I don’t know what would be.

Well maybe the fact that Twitter is planning to put out an IPO. They already have 500 million registered customers. With a widely enforced 140 character limit, there’ll be a scarcity of words that will highjack the human bandwidth. This in turn will cause a drop in IQ at the rate of 13 points in a matter of minutes. That would add up to dropping 780 IQ points in a matter of hours and reaching zero IQ in a matter of – well, you calculate it. My bandwidth has just run out.

1 comment:

  1. seems to me, the bandwidth of most has already been drastically reduced, and it started in school ;-).