There are high-end products, like camera lenses, stereo speakers and cars where the conventional wisdom is that heavier is a signifier of better.

It is so widely held that in many cases, manufacturers will intentionally make their products heavier merely to send a signal that they expect will be understood as quality.

And yet, in many cases, there are exceptional performers that completely contradict this belief.

That the signal, which might have made sense before, does not actually hold true.

We do the same signal searching when we choose a book because it is been on a bestseller list, and therefore we use the bestseller list as a signal even though we later realise that bestseller is a signal for sales, not necessarily quality.

We chose a college because of its ranking, or a used car because of the way the interior smells and the door slams.

The buy clothes with signals [labels] hoping that they will make us feel important.

The same thing is true with the way we interview people for jobs.

We think that a funny, calm person who looks like we do and interviews well is precisely the person who will perform the best. And, far more often than we would expect, this is shown to be untrue.

We look at how a person is externally, physically and facially, how charming they are, where they live, what they drive, as signals for a relationship partner, and later we realise that an abusive person hardly looks like an abusive person.

We have all learned this the hard way, with charismatic people and with heavy stuff, too.

Signals are great. They are even better when they are accurate, useful and relevant.

Sometimes signals are confusing and we are far better off listening to our instincts and intuitions that external signals.


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