Monday, December 29, 2008

When Cherished Ideas Crash

Ever had a feeling that your carefully constructed world view is crashing all around you as you read a more potent argument against it. You then scramble to qualify your world view so that it remains intact because you have seen it work before - but you are not so sure. Of course you can always have a fall back option (see Fickle) but not before giving a fight.

My basis for determining the validity of any information has always been to evaluate the information against a context. I keep asking, "what is the context?"  So, if some one says, "such and such HR initiative has worked in, say, Infosys." I would always ask, "Let's first examine the context."

And if the context is similar to mine, I would adopt it. To me context represents the sum of all independent variables that matters.

Similarly, story telling, to me at least, has always been the best way of passing information. But apparently narrating is too simplistic a tool and has the impact of forcing certain post-hoc causality on an event where there might be none or many that escapes detection.

Reading The Black Swan and before that Fooled By Randomness has been an humbling experience.

Context matters, but only up to certain extent. Actually only up to a small extent. Ditto with evidence. Because for every evidence and/or context there are many more that are not obvious or hidden.

No I have not given up on my context based filtering of information, but what does one do to counter this:

I propose that if you want a simple step to a higher form of life, ..., then you may have to denarrate, that is shut down the television set, minimize time spent reading newspapers, ignore the blogs. Train your reasoning abilities to control your decisions ... This insulation from the toxicity of the world will have an additional benefit: it will improve your well-being.

Mr. Taleb, would you reconsider leaving "ignore the blogs" bit out from the above quote? We actually help you detect black swans! How? By presenting counter points. If that does not help detect black swans, nothing will.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

No comments:

My Library