Saturday, June 02, 2007

The Point of Diminishing Returns

At some point in any project, whether business or personal, there is a point where the additional cost of continuing exceeds any possible benefit that will be gained from that effort. Few would argue that spending $1 per gallon for a fuel additive that will give you an additional 30 miles per gallon is a good investment. On the other hand, spending and additional $1 per gallon to make your car get only 1 or 2 additional miles per gallon hardly makes sense. From this example it is simple to interpolate that there is a point that the cost of the additive and the additional cost of the gas saved is equal. Below this point using the additive is cost effective. Above that point it is clearly ineffective.
Frequently, in my life I find myself making this judgment call. The one that I am currently dealing with has to do with a book that was recommended to me. The book is titled The Physics of Christianity. From the introduction and the first chapter I have found that the basic premise of the book is so flawed that I have no desire to continue. I skipped to the conclusions just to see where his arguments would lead. I might detail how ludicrous the author’s arguments are in a future post. As it stands I’m likely going to just drop the book back off at the library on my to work.
I seriously considered forcing myself to finish the book just to give it due diligence. Considering the huge stack of books that I have on my current reading list I simply feel that my time and efforts would be much better spent on other books. The only reason I’m giving this as much thought as I have is because I’m being overly introspective as usual. My decision has me questioning, if only a little, about whether I’m just being closed minded to the book.
The best thing that I have gained from reading the few chapters of this book is a few minutes of introspection on the topic of diminishing returns. At any cost I’m moving on to what I seriously believe will be better endeavors.


  1. As long as you're applying economic theory, you should also consider the opportunity costs. Two projects my both be beneficial, but if the benefits gained by pursuing one activity are greater than the benefits gained from pursuing the other, then you have to weigh that in the decision making process.

  2. Very good point. I was however, begining to doubt that continuing to read that book would have any benifit at all.