I'm in the middle of reading Nassim Taleb's "Black Swan", a fascinating book presenting the idea that there are huge cataclysmic events that no one puts in forecast models, yet these are the most important events that shape our history. Taleb himself has profited nicely off these cataclysmic events by betting against the stock market, losing money every day, but making his money back and more when the market crashes.
The chapter I read last night was about the psychological effects of feedback. That is, when we are given steady positive reinforcement, we are happier than if we get negative reinforcement every day, then one big positive reinforcement. For example, if you make $1000 a day, then lose it all at the end of the year, you'll be happier than if you make no money all year, then make $1000 at the end of the year- even though you make more money in the latter scenario.
Royals lose 100 games each season for the next five years. In 2016, they win the World Series. Then they lose 100 games each season for the five years after that.
Royals win 85-95 games every year for the next ten years, but never win the World Series.
I think in the abstract we would say Scenario #1 is better because we win the World Series. Just like in the abstract we would take the $1000 at the end of the year, because it leaves us with more money.
But if you were to actually live it - well we don't even have to imagine Scenario #1. We live it. Every year. At least Scenario #1 gives us the thrill of a championship. But aside from that one year, we would be as miserable as we are now.
But in Scenario #2, at least you have the thrill of winning every year. You don't ever reach the pinnacle, but enjoying a good team and a winning season can be a lot of fun too. There is the agony of getting so close without realizing your ultimate goal. But that is a much more fun type of agony than having to watch bad baseball year-in and year-out.
Which do you choose?