Some decisions we make lie in a spectrum, whether it’s how dirty a joke should be or how much can we mix the batter before we ruin the cake. In many of those decisions, the options have order to them. A joke can be more or less dirty. We can over or under mix batter.

A professional at the subject matter could pick the perfect spot in that spectrum. They know the cause-effect relation very well and have the high analytical know-how to determine what is approrpriate and when. However, there is a method for non-professionals to arrive at very good results with very little practice.

“Go to the extreme, then half way”.

If you want to know how tolerant your in-laws are of dirty jokes, just tell the dirtiest one you have. If they are grossed out, the next one you should tell is the middle between it and the mildest one you know. You continue “splitting the difference” until you find what they’re comfortable with. You’ll be astonished how quickly you’ll arrive at an answer.

The dirty joke example is simplistic, but most often than not you would find yourself pondering questions you either can’t ask or no one has the answer to.

Expect awkward moments and thrown cakes. The payment for quick, correct, decisions with practically zero professional training is the unpleasentness of the search. Nonetheless, Instinctive Binary Search is very useful for subject matters you are not very good at. Not only will you answer the question you have, but you will improve your familiarity with the subject at large. At some point, you will see commonalities in all the good decisions you make.

Whatever you do, just make sure you are the principal bearer of the pain of the search. It’s no problem to tell a slightly inappropriate joke to old people, but if, knowing them (or the joke), there’s a high risk of them being deeply disturbed, tell the joke to someone else.

Some people may hate you because of a slip up, or going too far. Mistakes happen, but make sure you are aligned with other people. The purpose of IBS isn’t for the world to be your test dummy, but to get the details the world wants you to know but sometimes forgets to tell you.