RE: [ba-ohs-talk] Fixed ideas and polarization
From: Peter Jones
> When we look at a combination of pre-science mindset with fixed ideas and
> polarized area of discussion, we have the sort of socio-political
> that makes problems complex. There is no possibility of investigating the
> problem because all those involved are operating on fixed ideas and are
> impervious to reason, and their goal is the pre-science one of dominion
> the judgments of others rather than dominion over things. (01)
Let's invert that. Do complex problems result in socio-political attitudes?
I think the fact that humans cannot have complete information says that they
glj -- It may be a "chicken and egg" problem, but I remain convinced that
polarization is what makes progress almost impossible. For most of the
issues that we consider the strictly technical issues would yield to
determined engineering. The challenges are large but not technically
infeasible except for the inability to solve the socio-political component
of the problem.
Complex problems may result in the content of socio-political attitudes, but
the polarization is what impedes their resolution. Incomplete information is
an inadequate reason to cease processing information. Each person needs to
form opinions and to act with less than complete information. What is not
necessary is then to stop paying attention the data on the matter.
There have been numerous times that I have had to alter my views when I
obtained further information. Often my original views have proven correct
even in the light of emerging information. What I don't support is the
refusal to alter position when the information indicates that the position
is incorrect. This is precisely the problem with polarization - no further
investigation actually occurs because all parties are more concerned with
prevailing in the debate than with solving the original problem. (02)
(Another fixed idea?)
Is that a bad thing? Perhaps not as long as there is appropriate
of the views in the 'solving' process.
glj -- the point is that once discussion polarizes, no amount of exposing
views matters any longer, since the goal of all involved is to prevail over
the opposition rather than to solve the original problem. That is even
before discussing the poor way we go about determining what the problem
really is as opposed to the way the debate is framed (more in another
Is there time to do that properly? Not often.
I would argue that complex problems will not (by definition) yield to
or insight overnight, and that in reality the best we can (or ought) do is
wobble towards the most harmless 'non-solution' _with tremendous
glj -- I was not suggesting that we do nothing, far from it. I do not think
that we can aim at anything better than the "most harmless 'non-solution'".
What I do propose, however, is that we study the nature of the problems
whose solution we hope to facilitate, and to use that analysis to affect the
nature of the tools we build. In this case, that we look toward augmenting
individual capability as a necessary precondition to augmenting group
Garold (Gary) L. Johnson (06)