A fantastic, celebratory set of balance scales (is it a cake?) with the number 500
Image via Dall-E 3

A sense of balance

In my 500th blogpost, I revisit the theme of my very first one: the trade-off, how it pervades our decision making, and how we often don’t get it quite right

Koen Smets
7 min readDec 8, 2023

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Nearly ten years ago, I wrote my first blogpost — then only in Dutch (for over seven years now, they have been published in both Dutch and English). It was titled A balance has two arms, a reference to both the mechanics of an old-fashioned set of balance scales, and president Harry S Truman economist advisers who reportedly so annoyed him with their “on the one hand this”, and “on the other hand that”, that he wanted to hire a one-armed economist. In the piece, I wanted to illustrate the importance of considering both the upsides and the downsides of the choices and decisions we make.

Since then, I have written many posts exploring behaviour that looks (or indeed is) a bit odd, viewing it through a (behavioural) economics lens. Economics, especially microeconomics, is a useful framework to explain how we think and how we act, and if you add behavioural economics, you have a pretty comprehensive toolkit to investigate, analyse and explain human behaviour. On the occasion of my 500th blogpost, it seemed a good idea to return to how we handle upsides and downsides, pros and cons, costs and benefits, and apply one of the most…

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Koen Smets

Accidental behavioural economist in search of wisdom. Uses insights from (behavioural) economics in organization development. On Twitter as @koenfucius