Monday, August 1, 2011

Request Aggression Formula

In a thread over at Daylight Atheism, a commenter named "monkeymind" makes this statement:

"The more trust you are requesting, the more unearned the trust is, the more aggressive the request."

Of course, this thread was relating to Elevatorgate - which I've promised I would revisit.

I've become more soft towards Rebecca Watson's position in the past weeks. It isn't because I had any sudden realization, or some reasoned argument I've been given has shown me how I was wrong.

Actually, in hearing so many people try to express online why Rebecca Watson was right to say what she said and others explain why she shouldn't have said it - I realized that there was a >0% chance that I had misunderstood her original comment.

In her first video, her exact words were: “A word to the wise, guys, uh, don’t do that.”

I initially thought that Rebecca was saying "To the men who want more women to participate in Atheist conferences, uh, you all must stop propositioning women at these events."

That interpretation really rubs me the wrong way. Luckily, I don't think that's what RW meant anymore.
(Although I would not be surprised if she held this position - I think she's gone on record saying that this would be a good way to get women to participate more - but either way, that wasn't what she was getting at in this video.)

But now that more people who know her have spoken out, it seems that she was probably saying "Men - it is a bad idea to proposition women you've just met in an enclosed space - you will make them feel uncomfortable and it's socially unacceptable."

This interpretation doesn't raise my hackles nearly as much. It could be wrong (based on how likely it is for women to feel uncomfortable and its social acceptance - but I don't want to discuss that right now) - but it's not as offensive as my original interpretation - that she was basically calling for men (and only men?) to postpone their sexuality during a convention.

OK, so that's my stance regarding Elevatorgate.

But regarding monkeymind's statement - I thought it was incredibly ... succinct. It is a really insightful way to look at how we make requests of other people and how aggressive those requests are.

I feel like there should be some sort of mathematical formula for it.

For example, something like

(Objective Value X Portion of Wealth) / (Requestor Trust Level) = Request Agression

So let's say my life-long best friend in the world (RTL=10) asks to use a car (OV=3,000) but I have another car of equal value (PoW=50%) I can drive.
(3,000 X .5)/10= 150

So in that case, the Request Aggression would be a score of 150.

If we contrast that with this situation:
Let's say a person I just met in a bar (RTL=2) asks to use my car (OV=3,000) but I have another care of equal value (PoW=50%) I can drive.
(3,000 X .5)/2= 750

In that case, that person asking to use a car of mine is much higher Request Aggression score of 750.

So let's just play with this model for a bit and see if we can break it - let's see if it makes much sense.

Let's say a complete stranger (RTL=1) asks for $5 for lunch (OV=5) but I have a bank account with $2,000 in it so (PoW=0.0025%) however, because this complete stranger does not know about how much money I have in the bank, he loses the benefit of the PoW.
(5)/1= 5

So we can see that, in reality, the aggressiveness of this request is rather low at only 5 points.

Although I'm not entirely happy with the way this works out - it would make a stranger asking you for $150 as aggressive as your friend asking to borrow your second car - which seems way out of wack.
Also, there is no mechanism for the likelihood of returning something. With a complete stranger, you just can't know. Whereas my best friend would be throwing away an entire lifetime of friendship and trust if he failed to return my car after borrowing it - a stranger would have far less to lose.

Also, this method doesn't account for the reality of the situation. I really don't have a problem buying a homeless man a lunch or some food. I've actually done it before when I used to work downtown. I also don't completely despise giving them pittance in change. However, I never, ever, ever take my wallet out at someone else's request in public. I just don't do it. I don't take out my smart phone at someone else's request, either - not event to check what time it is.*

So in this way, a person with a RTL of <4 would be laden with the entire value of my bank account by whipping out my wallet in front of him. Whereas a person with a high RTL >7 would only be held to account for the actual property I gave them, not that which was made available - For example:
If a friend wants to borrow a nice set of pans so he can cook dinner for his wife, I might lend him my keys to my house to pick them up while I'm at work. Technically I'm giving him access to nearly all of my worldly possessions, but his high trust level privileges him to have ACCESS to that which is not actually granted access to. If we do some coding- maybe the formula should look like this:
(OV/PoW) [if RTL is >7, leave as is] /RTL = RA
(OV/PoW) [if RTL is <4, increase OV to level of increased access exploit] /RTL = RA

So then, we'd see that if a stranger with a trust level of 1 asked me for $5, which required me to take out my wallet (OV of wallet, including Identity Theft, is $5,000) then I could easily claim this man's RA to be much, much higher than my friend asking to borrow an extra car.

I dunno, but this was fun to think about. I'm not a math person. I'm only barely capable with simple arithmetic, and my attempts above at algebra are probably open to improvement.

But I ask, if you are going to tweak my formula, please try to do it with math that an average 13-year-old can understand, because that's my math skill level - and I'd like to try to understand what you're doing with my formula.

*The risk of me taking my wallet/smartphone out (and you now having the ability to grab it and run) is not worth your mild inconvenience of needing to make a phone call or knowing what time it is. If you are bleeding and need me to dial 911, that's another story - as your medical needs over-ride my fear of having my phone stolen from me.

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