Monday, 5 January 2009

The road not taken...

After a full day with my children and a peek at the news, the theme of the day appears to be behavior prediction and its associated theories and models.  Whether mathematical, scientific, sociologic or with some other base, the methodology of behavior prediction is only questioned when one disagrees and has enough knowledge of the topic to dissent.

Generally, that leaves The-Man-In-The-Street with an article in the newspaper or a magazine which he reads as The Truth as it was ascertained by some important sounding technique, be it an analysis of market performance by assessing the long tails and short noses of a PanGaussian analysis, or, Gina Ford's monotone approach to understimulated child-rearing.  In short, we are assured by the opinions of experts.

So, when there is an Issue where one would like to predict or influence an outcome, whether it the markets, world economies, Gaza, my children -- most would rush to well-worn models, theories and and experts - rushing the past through the brains of todays experts. America is very very good at doing that --  "The Past" is a more important concept to a young nation and so it is held in high esteem.  More astute critical thinkers sit around doing the same, but, challenging the foundations of these theories, methodologies and, well, perhaps coming up with something new. And that innovation will more than likely dissent from the norm.

The situations currently under the worlds ponderances are very much off the norm.  Things may look familiar, but, that is the mistake - seeing markets, world economies, Gaza, anything really -  through the lense of the familiar puts a bit of a blinder on perceptions.  And so, to follow, look closely.  What is happening now with regard to economics and everything that swirls around that is a completely new situation that we have never experienced before.

So, drawing those two points together - looking closely, and, challenging the foundations-of-things-that-are-used-to-explain-things is not a terribly mind-shattering thing to say, but to listen and think off the norm might well be the helpful way - and as to behavior prediction with regard to humans, this kind of thinking requires bravery and is generally the road not taken.

1 comment:

hider said...

All so true! Well the scarey part is that, when we look under the hood, there may be all sorts of ugly things which we have no idea about. Mid career experts are going down fast in value as their good old solutions and theories don't work to cure our economic depression. We've got a year or two for these guys (sorry but they are all men) to resurrect their reputations with all those policies they previously theorized about. If they fail, and it seems more likely than not now, someone young may need to pick up all the pieces, look under the hood, and face the horror with unassuming eyes.