Hamlet and hesitation

Good post yesterday on Signal vs. Noise about when knowledge makes us hesitate. I’ve always thought that this is an idea at the core of Hamlet. Hamlet is smart, meditative, philosophical – all traits we would admire – but it’s exactly those traits that prevent him from making a decision about revenging his father. His hesitation leads to 8 corpses (Polonius, Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, Ophelia, Gertrude, Claudius, Laertes, and finally Hamlet himself).

At each stage of the play he gets new information which causes him to reassess his position, but nothing is actually done.

It’s counterintuitive to think that more information could be bad for you or that acting quickly and with conviction could be anything but rash. And yet in some situations this is exactly what is needed.

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