The thing about Hobson

People talk about Hobson’s choice as if it’s always a bad thing. A liveryman in pre-industrial London, he rented horses. And every customer was allowed to take the horse closest to the door. Hobson’s choice is no choice at all.

Of course, this system meant that the horses were rotated, and the fanciest ones weren’t overworked. It meant that you didn’t get to insist on a selection that was sub-optimal for the ridership as a whole.

It’s tempting to imagine that when each person chooses, we all come out ahead.

But sometimes, Hobson has a point.

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