Monday, February 2, 2009

Taking Decisions with a Twist in the Tale

Light dispelling darkness through the trees
I am context man! I find solace in setting up events in their context. And though The Black Swan has done its best to destroy my confidence in context ("narrative fallacies"), I still find taking decisions easier when context is clearer.

Let me try to explain what I mean by context. This is my favourite.

Suppose you have just arrived at a village and you hear that a boy has been killed by a wild animal. The most horrific thing is that none of the villagers rushed to rescue of the boy. What would be your reaction? Outrage? Small boy done to death because of apathy on part of the villagers. But then you rationalize. Perhaps the animal was big, leopard or tiger. It wouldn't have helped even if the villagers had tried. But then you hear it was just a wolf. Now you are angry. This is not on. You curse the villagers silently.

But being a "contextual person" you dig deeper. You find that the boy was naughty and like to play pranks. Just to entertain himself, he used to cry out wolf. The villagers would rush to his rescue every time just to see him laughing his head off and their consternation when they would find there was no wolf.  He had done so twice before and this time the villagers thought he was pulling a fast one once again.

Yes, dear readers, this is the old "The Boy Who Cried Wolf" story. Twisted around. You begin to understand more when the context is clear.

The problem with our education is that we are presented with narration that flow naturally - from the beginning to the end. As a result we are not trained to see beyond. What is presented is fact. And that's that. It is a helpful device to teach morals to a child, but awful device to teach us to think.

Unfortunately life is much more complicated and in many cases the reverse trace leads to a beginning that suits the narrator the most. In fact, you could end up with more than one narration depending on who is telling you the story.

Decisions based on context could be wrong or right. But decisions based on snapshots can never be right (Now don't quote me Blink!)

Picture courtesy: Patrice Dufour

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Anonymous said...

What a wonderfully written, concise post! Enjoyed this immensely! We will be back to read more!

sophia said...

A Good one...very original and enjyed reading it

smitha said...

The last two lines are catchy.....

"Decisions ...right.But decisions based on snapshots ....never be right."

Jhangora said...

Nice post Amitabh. Keep up the good work.

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