Evaluation Methodology: Physical

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  • There will be different variables for different items. The first step when researching a particular item or class of item should always be the identification of variables that will be important to optimize around.
  • You will also want to identify the specifics of your particular use case, and weight variables accordingly. “Best” is relative to what the item will be used for – a really good pair of tactical cargo pants probably won’t be the best pants to go with your suit.
  • Practicality and diminishing returns mean that very often it is best to purchase the cheapest option that fits your use case rather than a more expensive option that will not make a substantial difference. For example, diamond tipped screwdrivers are theoretically better than screwdrivers made out of high-carbon machine steel. But they are probably not $200 better, and as long as you aren’t working with tungsten carbide screws (for example), it’s not going to make a difference anyway. So while the diamond-tipped screwdrivers are “better” in the abstract, they are not better for you since they cost more money without giving you additional benefit.


  • It is very rare to find a product that actually matches the optimal configuration for your circumstances. The world is full of poorly designed products that haven’t been thought out intelligently; the number of products that start out not being bad is pretty small, and even among these, only some are likely to work for you.
  • Thus, you will typically need to use your weighting of variables to go through the product space and figure out what to choose among a range of suboptimal options.
  • You will want to find out the usable lifetime of whatever product you are buying, and then try to estimate the probability that a much more optimal product will come out before the end of the usable lifetime. If you think one will, try to hold off on any purchase until then. (Of course, some of this depends on how much you need the product now).
  • Crowdsourcing could theoretically act as a solution to to the lack of effective product designs in much of industry. Unfortunately, it has been taken over in large part by slick marketing and unrealistic designs. (This is not universally true – there are a handful of excellent crowsourced products – but it is mostly true).

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