Sunday, January 25, 2004

The Two Things

I’ve been meaning to blog about the Two Things for a while now, but someone has beaten me to the punch. Todd Grotenhuis, a participant at a seminar I spoke at last summer, discusses it here.

Here’s the story of the Two Things. About three years ago, I was chatting with a stranger in a bar. When I told him I was an economist, he said, “Ah. So… what are the Two Things about economics?”

“Huh?” I cleverly replied.

“You know, the Two Things. For every subject, there are really only two things you really need to know. Everything else is the application of those two things, or just not important.”

“Oh,” I said. “Okay, here are the Two Things about economics. One: Incentives matter. Two: There’s no such thing as a free lunch.”

Ever since that evening, I’ve been playing the Two Things game. When I meet someone who belongs to a different profession (i.e., a profession I haven’t played this game with), I pose the Two Things question. Among other things, I have found out the following:
The Two Things about Law (from Melanie Williams):
1. You are responsible for the foreseeable costs of your wrongful conduct.
2. Law protects the reasonable expectations of the parties.

The Two Things about Managerial Accounting (from Shahid Ansari):
1. The “cost” of any item depends on what you need the information for.
2. Since managerial accounting information is used for decision-making, it should be relevant rather than verifiable.

The Two Things about Hairdressing (from Damasque):
1. Texture
2. Balance
Todd adds the following:
The Two Things about Civil Engineering:
1. Dirt + Water = Mud.
2. You can’t push a rope.
At the aforementioned seminar, some participants asked me to tell them the Two Things about Women, and I came up with the following:
1. When complaining, they don’t want your advice, they want your sympathy.
2. Don’t you dare tell them you can sum them up with just Two Things.
Marc LeBar, a philosopher and fellow faculty member, said the first thing about philosophy was “It’s not the answers, it’s the questions.” I don’t recall his ever stating the second thing.

Please let me know, via email or the comments box, the Two Things about your own field (or the correct Two Things about any of the fields already covered). I plan to create a webpage with all the best answers, with credit to the authors.


Anonymous said...

The two things about medicine:

1) Confidentiality is a sacred cow
2) There is no confidentiality

Anonymous said...

Every thing is two-sided rather than two things eg. Debit & Credit in accounting.

steve said...

2 things about plumbing-
1-Shit goes downhill
2-Payday's Friday