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We have an intermediate-term memory that, like external memory, can make information more

available to working memory than it would be if the information had to be retrieved all the way from
long-term memory. We all know that recent experiences, such as a new joke, a first kiss, or an
unpleasant argument, tend to come easily to mind for the next few days. This is intermediate-term
memory. We can learn to use this memory more systematically. If you’re faced with a complex
decision problem, such as a financial planning decision, where there are many things to take into
account, you may at first feel overwhelmed and inadequate to the task and may tend to
procrastinate. It can help enormously to spend some time just going over all the important
components first, to get them fresh in mind, before starting work on the problem. If you try this,
you’ll actually feel smarter when you do start work on the problem. Psychologists used to call this a

Each column can be thought of as a simple decision problem. The first column, for example,
represents the problem of evaluating three cars that differ only in cost, a much simpler problem than
the overall problem we started with. This is the divide-and-conquer strategy at work.

The Golden Rule and the Platinum Rule, as useful as they may be, are no substitutes for the Principle
of Universalizability. If our herder had considered the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would
have others do unto you,” he or she might have thought, “My few extra animals will have no real
impact on the others. I wouldn’t care if they did

“warm-up” effect (McGeoch & Irion, 1952). Now, it's called “priming” (Shiffrin, 1988), getting ideas
ready to be thought about more easily. It’s a simple but powerful trick for expanding our mental
capacity. By now, we've considered a variety of forms of stimulus control, ways to bring automatic
processes into the service of controlled processes and higher goals. It should be helpful to review
them: • To get new ideas, we vary automatic processes by varying stimuli • To retain good ideas, we
reactivate automatic processes by repeating stimuli in the form of external memory aids;While
analysis of values specifies what we like and don’t like, causal analysis specifies factors that promote
or prevent what we value. The philosopher David Hume (1888) called causation “the cement of the
universe”, so important is it to holding together the universe, or at least our understanding of it. The
link between causes and alternatives is both simple and powerful: Good alternatives cause good
outcomes.

Analysis of a decision problem into subproblems is simple when the values of the alternatives in each
subproblem don’t depend on the alternative chosen in the other subproblem. Over a broad range of
alternatives the desirability of various items on the dinner menu doesn’t depend on what I'm
wearing, nor vice versa. So I can treat the decision as to what to wear as a separate problem without
having to worry about what I might have for dinner. Fortunately, most of our decisions are separable
in this way. For a more complex example, see the appendix on Thinking More Deeply About
Alternatives.

As another example, the value of highway gas mileage probably doesn’t depend on the color of the
car or on whether the car has a CD player, but the value of number of air bags probably does depend
on braking distance. The longer the braking distance, the greater the value of the air bags (because
you'll be more likely to crash into something and need them). Similarly, the value of ease of getting
parts depends on the value of reliability; the lower the reliability and the more often you need parts,
the greater is the importance of ease of getting them. We hope for values to be independent, for
then we can benefit fully from decomposition, first thinking about one value and then thinking about
the other. When values aren’t independent, we have to think about them both at the same time.

To prepare him for thinking about the tradeoff between personal growth and involvement in his son’s
life, I sought a measure for involvement in his son’s life. I suggested two: Number of Days with His
Son Per Year, and Number of Days Between Visits. Dale saw Number of Days Between Visits as clearly
the more meaningful measure, since it didn’t take long for him and his son to get out of touch with
one another’s lives, but it also didn’t take long to get back in touch.

Community values include pride in being a member of a group, organization, or society that's
intelligently and efficiently run; takes care of its children, its elderly, its sick, and its poor; preserves
its environment; fosters education and the arts; plans wisely for its future; and has a shared sense of
identity. The community, as will be argued later, is more than the sum of its individual members.
Failure to take the perspective of the community into account can result in what will later be
discussed as “tragedies of the commons”. Identification with community values promotes
cooperation and can protect us against tragedies of the commons