Friday, November 12, 2021

Daylight Savings Time

Just got a weird bug in my brain, as a result of a conversation yesterday, and wrote this in the comments of a friend's blog.  And then realized that it's exactly the sort of crap we used to post on here.  Which made me nostalgic, so I came and posted it here too...

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Hold my beer, because I am going to overthink the Everloving Crap out of this.

Arguments both for and against DST always sound to me a bit like what they’re _trying_ to say is this:

There’s this minor inconvenience (DST | minimal useful daylight) that only affects maybe 10% of people, so why should the other 90% of us have to crawl over broken salted glass to appease these petty tyrants!

What they actually sound like to me:

There is a minor inconvenience A that affects everyone, but only 10% of people care.
There is a minor inconvenience B that affects everyone, but only 10% of people care.
The solution to A is the cause of B, and vice-versa. So 10% of people are going to be irritated either way. I don’t want it to be my 10%.

And then a small vocal percentage of People Irritated By A will argue loudly with a small vocal percentage of People Irritated by B, and meanwhile a few people are nodding both directions and 81% of us sitting on the sidelines are not sufficiently irritated by either to understand why it’s worth making a fuss over. And the core misunderstanding actually seems to stem from human empathy, of all things. It is natural for people to assume that others will feel the same way they do, so both sides envisage 90% of people suffering and 10% benefiting, and therefore it’s clearly an untenable argument and anyone can see that the other guy is just being selfish.

Wait for it; I’m just getting started.

Because I just did the same thing, when I had the above thought this morning, and realizing that is what actually kicked me out of bed to write this down. I naturally assumed that most other people felt the way I feel, and therefore when spitballing made-up percentages I chose 10% of people to be irritated enough to care, making 81% of people agree with me that it’s just not that big a deal either way. But it could just as easily be 90% of people who care passionately about either issue (making 81% irritated by both but presumably paralyzed by indecision, 9% still pushing one way or the other, and a mere 1% actually agreeing with me.) Its hard to find real opinion numbers – a recent US poll had “43% want to stay on standard time year-round, while 32% prefer to see the clocks remain on daylight saving time. Only 25% percent like the existing state of affairs.” But that’s seeking people out to ask for a preference, and “don’t care” wasn’t an option. The “final stage completion rate” of that poll was 17.4% – so that’s how many people cared about the issue enough to finish responding to a poll – but that could be high or low for a lot of reasons. Checking a handful of online petitions finds most struggle to get more than a few thousand people to even go to the effort of signing an online petition. But _that_ could just reflect the general opinion that online petitions are useless…

Anyways, I was interested in the realization that it is a form of empathy that causes each side of the argument to sound unreasonable to the other, and likewise a sort of empathy that makes people like me feel that both sides are being a bit hysterical. And that both sorts of empathy are very possibly misplaced, depending on the actual opinions of people, which I at least don’t know and couldn’t find much decent data on in a cursory google. Thought it was an interesting enough idea to share; do with it what you will.

1 comment:

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