Dice Travels: The Proposition
Some men just want to watch the world burn, others just want to throw the dice and see where they land. Photo: Adriano Trapani
THE premise is simple: Allow die roles to determine the majority of decisions faced while motorbiking throughout the world with a limited budget for an entire year. It’s 365 days of living chaotically, tempting fate, enticing serendipity and letting go of free will – if such things exist.
This is not a real-life adaptation of George Cockcroft’s cult classic Dice Man, where the antagonist, Luke Rhinehart, disregards his moral compass and sets down a truly random path of destroying his professional life, his family life, raping his neighbor and fostering an amoral cult of dice fanatics. Mr Rhinehart lives by a single rule, and that is the rule of the dice. Once the numbers are fixed (even with something that he believes will drive him further into the world of insanity he lives) and the dice are cast, there is no turning back.
This is not that type of proposition.
If uprooting one’s life completely, disregarding obvious professional advancements and financially running yourself into the ground can be described as modest, if only in comparison with Mr Rhinehart, then this is a much more modest foray into the unknown.
The vast majority of decisions decided by the dice will fall within the 40-60 per cent range of “I don’t give a fuck”. This is how the idea was originally described, so we’ll stick with it. Scientific evidence behind ‘Decision Fatigue’ is gathering mass, along with the popularity of Barry Schwartz’s book The Paradox of Choice: Why Less is More and Roy F. Baumeister’s Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength.
Every day, we draw on a limited decision-making resource, which ends up with us being able to make better decisions earlier in the day and shying away from difficult choices late at night. There are a number of antidotes to decision fatigue; witness the limited wardrobes of Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs and even Barrack Obama (let’s choose one guy who still has a pulse) had/have simplified wardrobes.
‘You’ll see I wear only gray or blue suits,’ President Obama told Michael Lewis of Vanity Fair. ‘I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.’
He went on to mention that research shows that the simple act of making decisions degrades one’s ability to make further decisions. It’s not hard to think of a couple former US presidents who struggle with self-control at the end of the day, which falls in line with George Loewenstein’s work. (Mr Loewenstein suggests decision fatigue plays a role in the disastrous failings of men in power to control impulses in their private lives.
Decision fatigue can cause a person to avoid making decisions entirely, reduce their ability to make trade-offs and cause impaired self-regulations.
Ever wonder why you’re more likely to break that new fad diet right at the end of the day; I mean you deserve a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Bourbon Pecan Pie, you skipped having that overly sugary apple with breakfast, right?
However, let’s be honest, going for the Bourbon Pecan Pie ice cream is a no-brainer. In general, very little energy is needed when making an obvious decision; do you pick up the USD100 bill you dropped in your hotel room?
However, the closer we get to a 50/50 line the more information we need to accurately weigh the options and more perceptive we must be. If a decision is a 49/51, making the right choice will lead to a 2 per cent gain, let’s say of happiness. However, the energy expended in making that decision could be better used for a decision of greater importance.
To demonstrate the point, let’s presume the decision will drain our ability to make better decisions later in the day and cost us a total of 4 per cent of our happiness. So at the end of it all, the best you can walk away with, if you made the optimal decision is 47 per cent of the happiness available from the situation.
You would have been better off flipping a coin – or rolling a die.
That is exactly what Dice Travels sets out to do as we entertain a range of economic behaviorist theories and explore the world by motorbike.
There are of course risks that will spring to most people’s minds, such as death, destitution, tropical illnesses, motorbike crashes and spiders, but there is also the risk of being drawn into the world of Mr Rhinehart. As adrenaline junkies, risk is what we inject into our veins through the tip of a needle or in this case, the roll of a die. It is what makes the colors of the world vivid, the tastes on our tongues electric, the sounds in our ears clear. It is what makes our pulse race, and our souls soar. It is what makes us feel alive and be grateful for that fact.
Putting choices on the dice that do not belong there is a real risk. Because the dice are there not only to direct, but also to force me to expand beyond what I know, beyond what is comfortable, beyond what seems entirely reasonable.
But as they say, if you keep looking for the edge, you will eventually find it