Decision Making

I have made four online versions of the Magic 8-Ball. I made them mobile-friendly, so I could put links to them on my phone and get answers anywhere I find myself.

My online Magic 8-Ball. This is the traditional Magic 8-Ball with 20 answers. It features a built in 3 second wait to make up your own mind. If you want to ask again, simply click the answer.

The Magic 8-Ball Plus. This Magic 8-Ball is like the above, and adds three optional “Consult Oblique Strategies” answers. When Oblique Strategies comes up, clicking the answer will take you to an online Oblique Strategy tool (that is not of my making).

The Fifty-Fifty Magic 8-Ball. This is an 8-Ball with 28 answers. There are the 20 traditional answers, the three Oblique Strategy prompts, and an additional five negative answers. As I outline below, the traditional Magic 8-Ball answers are weighted towards the positive. This Magic 8-Ball does away with that.

The Either-Neither Magic 8-Ball. This is of my own creation and is handy when you are trying to decide between 2 options. It has 9 answers. Three of these are “Choice A.” Three of them are “Choice B.” The remaining three are “Either,” “Neither,” or “Consult Oblique Strategies.”

Let me explain.

If you’re interested in art and the creative process, you’re probably familiar with the Oblique Strategies, which were created by Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt. This is a deck of cards created by Eno to aid in the creative decision-making process. I was always fascinated by this set of cards, and have tried using them myself, but there is one problem: the cards require that you think. Sometimes I don’t want to think. Thinking got me where I am: Stuck.

On occasion, I would use a coin flip to make decisions. It works great for yes or no questions. Another good thing about flipping a coin is the ritual. One pulls out the coin, props it carefully on the thumb and finger, flips the coin, catches it, turns it over, and finally, reads the result. By the time you’ve done all that, your mind is probably made up on the subject and you can choose to disregard the answer if you feel strongly enough about it. If the coin agrees with your thinking then it’s all the better.

The problem with a coin flip is that there is no gradation. You get a yes or no answer. I finally settled on the Magic 8-Ball, which is more commonly thought of as a novelty toy than a decision making aid. Here is the Wikipedia page for the Magic 8-Ball. There are twenty possible answers supplied by a standard Magic 8-Ball:

It is certain
It is decidedly so
Without a doubt
Yes definitely
You may rely on it
As I see it, yes
Most likely
Outlook good
Signs point to yes
Reply hazy try again
Ask again later
Better not tell you now
Cannot predict now
Concentrate and ask again
Don’t count on it
My reply is no
My sources say no
Outlook not so good
Very doubtful

If you spend a little time thinking about the nature of these answers, you’ll see that the “yes” answers outweigh the “no” answers. In fact, out of the twenty answers, a full half of them are positive. Five of them are indefinite. The remaining five are “No” answers. I like the way that this is weighted in many situations, and in the majority of my consultations with the 8 Ball, I choose the traditional route.

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