As a mathematician and a psychologist from a network studying real-world decision-making under radical uncertainty, we work on the dangers of investing scientific models with phantastic (wished-for but unrealistic) power to resolve uncertainty and produce optimal solutions. In this short blog we discuss the dangers of forgetting that, in the context of uncertainty, successful anticipatory thinking is not about making good predictions, it is about agility when judging what information to gather to grasp an unfolding landscape, and constant curiosity about what might be left out. Algorithms - and humans masquerading as algorithms, or passing the buck to algorithms - are fragile decision-makers under many real-life conditions.
The need for constructive ambivalence during the Covid-19 pandemic.
"What we observe is not nature itself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning."Werner Heisenberg (1) Social facts reduce our experience of uncertainty “Adam's commission, the naming of things, if only in the imagination, brings them into existence, objects of thought; like God, breathes into them the power of the word."The naming of things,… Continue reading The need for constructive ambivalence during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Grappling with uncertainty, and the emotions it provokes
The stories we tell ourselves about futures and the impact of our actions in them are important acts of imagination which enable us to act, despite uncertainty. However, they can also become over-comfortable refuges from the anxiety provoked by uncertainty and a route to disregarding important information and perspectives which challenge our certainties.