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May 18, 2022

Why did you leave China?

Columbian Monomania-Episode 13

The toxicity in questions

Many of my friends have asked me the question, "Why did you leave China?"

We may have the answers but the questions have us. Very few of us have the habit of questioning our questions. 

A much better question would be, "What benefits and costs were important to you in deciding to move from Kunming, China to Medellin, Colombia?" 

I'll answer that question in a minute. But first let's look at the problems with the original question, "Why did you leave China?"

Cognitive biases

Implied within the question, "Why did you leave China?" several cognitive biases have taken up residence.


  • Righteousness bias

  • Sunk cost bias and loss aversion bias

  • Commitment bias and the persistence bias

  • Plan continuation bias

  • Status quo bias

  • Hyperbolic discounting, present bias, and short-term bias

Righteousness bias

The question implies that there was something wrong with China or with my living there. The question lives inside the HOGAB and makes an open-eyed assessment of costs and benefits, risks and possibilities problematic.

Sunk cost bias and loss aversion bias

The question focuses us on what we would lose by giving up what we have instead of what we could or would gain by making a change.

Commitment bias and persistence bias

The question lives inside the assumption that continuing with and being persistent in our past commitment is the right thing to do.

Plan continuation bias

Similar to the commitment bias is the plan continuation bias. You planned to stay in Kunming. Therefore you should continue with your plan.

Status quo bias

The way things are is better than changing things. "Just leave well enough alone," as the saying goes.

Hyperbolic discounting, present bias, and short-term bias

In the short run, I incurred (and am still incurring) many costs by moving. If I was just looking weeks or a few months ahead, then moving to Colombia would not make sense. It's only by considering the big, longer-term picture, that the choice was obvious to me.

What benefits and costs were important to you in deciding to move from Kunming, China to Medellin, Colombia?

Now to answer the "same" question without the cognitive biases embedded.

Because Medellin and Colombia is a better city and country for me than Kunming and China.


Pros (Medellin, Colombia is better than Kunming, China)


  • Better weather all year around: 62 F (17 C) to 78 F (26 C) degrees compared to 36 F (2 C) to 75 F (24 C)

  • Somewhat cheaper in housing and much cheaper in labor (for my personal assistant and housekeeper)

  • Easier to get girlfriend(s): 21-year-old girls and their family/friends think nothing of them having a 78-year-old boyfriend

  • More neighborly (Chinese are friendly and helpful, but not as neighborly)

  • Much easier to get a permanent visa and residency

  • No VPN needed: I love easily using Whatsapp

  • Colombia has a better relationship with the USA and is not about to go to war with anybody

  • Certain drugs (like modafinil) are much easier to get

  • A language that is fun and easy for me to learn

  • Better medical system

  • Relatively easy-going regarding COVID

  • Although this may wear off over the years as it did somewhat with living in Asia for over 22 years, Colombian people, Colombia, and South America provide a dramatically different playground for me to explore.

Cons (Kunming, China is better than Medellin, Colombia)


  • Not as physically safe from thieves and thugs

  • Not as much access to a variety of super great deals in online shopping and restaurant home delivery

  • Food in restaurants not as inexpensive and not as healthy as in Kunming

  • Must wait longer for things to get done (it’s a manana culture)

  • Colombian kids are not as cute to me as Chinese kids are (and I must ask permission to take photos)

Start of Columbian Monomania

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