Tewari Analysis in Real Life

Tewari is a concept from Go that has applications everywhere. It describes a way of creating an alternative but logically equivalent scenario of an argument or disagreement. This way of arguing is valuable because it can help overcome status quo bias.

Say you are arguing about whether or not you should sell you car. Within tewari analysis, that argument is equivalent to this situation: you have already sold your car, and are considering buying it back (for the same price). Now, obviously for it to be equivalent, we should eliminate transaction costs in both cases. Although the situations are equivalent (no effort required to move between them), the concept of having a car and possibly losing it feels very different than the concept of paying money for a car, and owning one, when you don't have to. Thinking about selling your car creates a feeling of loss... but deciding not to buy a car could feel good, and is less stressful.

Or, say you are arguing whether the Chinese language should introduce spaces between words to improve readability. Conservative people usually react pretty badly to this proposition. Think of the problem in reverse: Imagine Chinese has always had spaces between words. One day, someone comes along and says that they should eliminate spaces, using the reasoning that people will probably be able to make out word boundaries just about as easily, and it will save space. Suddenly that argument sounds insane and weak! Now, the original proponent of adding spaces isn't trying to say that there would be no costs involved - obviously, retraining everyone would be a huge cost, and changing software, and everything associated with the written word would be tough. But the original argument was just about which is absolutely better, and viewing it backwards makes it pretty clear that it would be crazy to remove spaces from a language that already had them.

Way of Life Changes

When a new technology comes along which would change a traditional way of life, everyone complains about it. Yet, when it's in place, very few people advocate going back to an even more primitive way of life. When cars came along, everyone complained about losing the connection to horses. But if cars were to go away, everyone complains again, and nobody advocates going back to horses.


Some people don't like the concept of "running it twice" in poker to reduce variance, or the full version of that, EV Poker. Yet, these very same people don't propose making poker more random.

Regret Minimization

If you are considering an action, just think about whether you would regret doing it. If not, then you should just do it.