Daily Archives: February 20, 2007

Emergence, Economics, Psychology

I’m not sure if it’s a character flaw, looking for big but simple ideas and hoping emergence will arrange them and spit out present or future reality. Maybe I have a thing for Occam’s Razor

“The principle states that the explanation of any phenomenon should make as few assumptions as possible, eliminating, or “shaving off”, those that make no difference in the observable predictions of the explanatory hypothesis or theory.”

It’s one of those things I’ve noticed working back from my love of technology, people, and economics. Economics lead me to Hayek who said about governing

…it is the individualist who recognizes the limitations of the powers of individual reason and consequently advocates freedom as a means for the fullest development of the powers of the interindividual process.

Or Tolstoy on intuition

“Reasoning led him into doubt and kept him from seeing what he should and should not do. Yet when he did not think, but lived, he constantly felt in his soul the presence of an infallible judge who decided which of two possible actions was better and which was worse; and whenever he did not act as he should, he felt it at once.”

Or Po Brosnon on child rearing:

“When we praise children for their intelligence,” Dweck wrote in her study summary, “we tell them that this is the name of the game: Look smart, don’t risk making mistakes.” And that’s what the fifth-graders had done: They’d chosen to look smart and avoid the risk of being embarrassed.”

Or Edsger Wybe Dijkstra on Software

“The competent programmer is fully aware of the limited size of his own skull. He therefore approaches his task with full humility, and avoids clever tricks like the plague.”

What’s more complicated – the brain, or a few hundred million of them operating in a democracy? Is it a matter of scale? Let’s assume communism fails but psychoanalysis works. So emergence only works on a societal level meaning our brains aren’t the result of emergent order. I have a hard time buying that. Which is probably why I’m not a big believer in therapy unless you’ve run out of people to talk to.

Photo Uploaded on April 16, 2006 by lukecanvin