Friday, January 13, 2012

fox and the grapes conundrum

Fox and the Grapes Conundrum:
“Fox and the grapes” is one of Aesop’s most famous fables. Almost all of us learn the story of the fox which goes something like, “One day a fox came across a wine of grape on its path, it tried its best to reach the bunch of grapes handing from the tree that was covered by the wines, after several tries the fox goes away comforting itself saying that the grapes are sour”. I read from Wikipedia that this principle is known as Cognitive Desonance, whereby, you decide to give some explanation in situations which are unfavourable or unexpected by you.

We must however appreciate the underlying the idea behind this story, that we tend to be the fox from the story. In fact we lead our entire lives hanging to the underlying principles portrayed in this story.

For instance, say you have gone out on a wonderful day to buy yourself a shirt, probably for your birthday (^_^). And you see 2 shirts in a shop both of which look very nice, however you have just enough money for one. In situations like, we see a case of cognitive desonance, we somehow logically conclude that one of the two shirts are better and buy it. And on asking why can come up with flaws that might not actually be there.

This kind of logic is built into the human system of thinking. We decide things spontaneously and expect everything to go fine. We are programmed to carry on, when there is situations like this.

There are several illustrations which one might have already experienced. For instance, in the game Super Mario, we have to spontaneously choose between where to go next when we enter the pipe at level 2. Where a user can go to level 3, 4, 5 next. In the game it is seen that people often differ in opinion when they are overcome by such a situation.

When asked to comment about a beautiful picture. It is found that different people observe different things about a picture. Like the saying goes, “Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder”. Every individual is unique and thinks differently. However the sees only what it wants to see so be sure you have exploited all options before concluding anything prematurely.

Though we tend to listen to the story of the fox and the grape. We realize its relevance only if we look back at our actions in day today life. This is one of the most consequential stories we tend to live by. For imagine if the fox kept going on and on, then nothing would have changed in its life.

While “Try and try until you succeed” stands to motivate the people who fail in some of their first few attempts. We are humans and we have limitations. It is possible to overcome some of them. However not everything has a true solution. Sometimes it is better to let things go, than to keep going on. “Most things need not be impossible, however, several things are illogical” - Ganesh Kamath.

At first we might not accept that we are like the fox because most tales from fables portray the fox as a cunning creature (probably including this one). However if you try to relate to the things that you desire as the grapes you will seen see what I mean here.

Learn from this story!!! Let go and keep moving forward. You might have seen a basketball player dunk. Where by the ring is over 9 feet high and might have tried doing it yourself. You might have even succeeded and might say that efforts bear fruits. Well look at it this way, instead of 9 feet if it was 9000 feet high, then the basket would not even be visible let alone you going for the dunk. Yes life is (a bitch) full of disappointment. But there are far better things to do than to think over and over about problems like these. When one door closes in our life we keep looking at the closed door for so long that we don't take the opportunity to venture other doors deterred by disappointment.

You might think of attacking this problem by reverse engineering the problem. Where in you can say that the wolf was stealthy enough to climb the tree and somehow managed to get the grape. Well we are looking at a different situation altogether now. For all you know, fox don’t eat grapes (^_~). There are several results we can derive if we look at the problem backwards...

I have seen the reverse engineered application of this problem first hand. For example, when you order a “Sev puri” and a friend comes close enough to take one of the “puri” from you, if you say that the “puri” is not good. He won’t take it from you. This is negative advertising and another defence mechanism which exists in the nature of human beings.
As human beings it is in our nature to make assumptions and conclusions, however, always keep it in mind that Wrong assumptions lead to wrong conclusions and the consequences can be severe in many real life situations.


P.S. : Those of you who have not yet referred to the word Conundrum, it means confusion in this context.

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