I started listening to Sun Tzu's "Art of War" on audiobook recently. I'd tried to get through it before, but the translations I picked up were a little too dry, or I wasn't in the right state of mind for it.
Listening to the narrator speak out Sun Tzu's strategy made me realize something - the fundamental judgment errors people make are independent of any particular field. Going on tilt in poker or attacking immediately with exhausted troops after it's taken three months to build siege engines - are these not the same thing? Overpursuit past objectives in war, and deviating from core investment strategies after a short term win or loss - certainly, this is a similar judgment flaw.
This particular audio version includes commentary written by other Chinese military strategists, and one story is how one commander and his officers were at a neighboring kingdom trying to convince them to make an alliance against the barbarians they were fighting. After a week of great treatment, the neighboring king grew more cold and distant to the commander.
Being perceptive, the commander guessed that the barbarians might have also sent envoys, and now the king was choosing which side to support. The commander captured and interrogated one of the palace attendants, who said yes, the barbarians did send envoys.
The commander's party was less than 30 men, it was him and some of his officers. The barbarian envoy had over 100 men. But, in the cover of night they snuck to the barbarian camp, lit it on fire, played war drums to make their forces look larger than they were, and shot down barbarians with bow and arrow and crossbows, and completely destroyed the enemy forces.
The next day, they presented this to the king as a great victory for their new alliance, and seeing the boldness, the king chose to join the commander's side of the war. Isn't that sort of attraction to boldness the same thing that makes a woman choose a man, or a person choose a business partner?
It seems like the basic psychology and emotions that drive us to make decisions, rational and irrational, is the same for most people. With immense amounts of training, you can overcome your own psychology and emotions to an extent, and don't count on a well-trained person caving to their emotions. But the vast majority of people are not well-trained, and will likely follow normal patterns - whether is be on a battlefield, playing cards, investing, love, making alliances, or choosing business partners.
There is tremendous synergy - learning about human nature in a particular field must make it much faster to understand human nature in a second field, even faster in a third, until a quick overview of a field lets you make intelligent guesses as to how people will react.
Here's the version of Sun-Tzu I'm listening to, I quite like both the narrators:
The audio version is quite engaging and they're reading from Lionel Giles' translation which is good, very straightforward and not dry. Here's the paper version:
The year is 204 B.C., and Publius Cornelius Scipio stands, blade and standard in hand, over now-conquered Utica. The numerically superior forces of Hasdrubal and Syphax almost completely annihilated in a nighttime assault by the Romans, and the Carthaginian field forces were entirely out of commission in Northern Africa.
The Carthaginian Empire is the verge of ruin, with Scipio's forces clear to take the capital -
And lo! Envoys appear.
Not just any envoys, but 30 Members of Carthage's Council of Elders, the highest and most respected spokesmen for the state.
Rochester Parkour hosted their first “Beginner's Parkour Workshop” in December. 35 people attended, mostly regulars. On Saturday, March 28th, Rochester Parkour hosted their second “Beginner's Parkour Workshop.” There was no definitive count, but the lower estimate was 100 people, mostly newcomers. During the first workshop, it was in the low 30s and starting to snow. This time, it was in the high 60s, sunny, and a beautiful day.
This picture was taken at the end of the workshop, after approximately half the group had left.
The workshop was scheduled to start at 2:30, but Zac decided to go a little bit early. When he got there at 2:00, there was already a handful of people waiting. After some introductions and idle chit-chat, Zac noticed a police car pulling up and parking nearby. After watching for a bit, the officers got out of their car and started walking over. At this point, Zac was convinced that the workshop was going to get broken up 25 minutes before it even started! He started walking toward the officers to introduce himself. After a brief exchange of introductions, the officers asked if this was the Parkour thing they saw on the RNews (the local news station). Reluctantly, Zac replied that it was. At this point, everyone else was silent and staring. There was a ten second awkward silence, then one officer laughed and said “You guys aren't in trouble! We just thought it was cool and wanted to check it out. We're not even from around here, we're from the next district over.”
Everyone talked with the officers for a bit, and they even said they'd try to stop back again during the workshop (although they weren't able to). It was a stressful, but overall positive indication of how the day was going to go!
Over the course of the next 25 minutes, more and more people showed up. Introductions were made, a Frisbee game broke out. A lot of teenage boys were coming, but there was also at least 10 girls who came out to participate! There were some adults, and even a few families that came out to give it a try! There was a husband and a wife, and their three young children who did a fantastic job! People just kept pouring over the hill and onto the field, until it was about 2:40, and it was definitely time to get started. A quick estimate of the turnout resulted in over 100 people!