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21 December 2008



Stop! if your did not read the Michael Crichton speech you should. Go back and read it now! It will help you to understand how you can be duped by the government and the press working together to deny you the accurate information you need for effective decision making in your life. The speech is about complexity, but it is not complex. It is clear and easily understood by a person of average intelligence. It makes one wonder why it is that our government leaders and reporters have such a hard time understanding complexity, and the consequences of their actions, or lack of action in some cases. We live in a complex world where chaos rules. Trying to control it without understanding and humility will only bring the chaos of unintended consequences. This will certainly be true if we try to control the weather. OK, now go back and read it again, and this time relate it to the things going on around you today. Thanks for taking the time.

George Rebane

Thanks for the added emphasis Russ. I was going to comment on Crichton’s speech in a future post, but your comment prompts me to offer some early remarks. In the speech Crichton makes the point that the model (he uses an influence factors diagram) is not the real world, which is correct as far as it goes. But the reader should nevertheless be aware that using such a model incorporating an algorithm is the ONLY way that we humans can understand anything about the real world. (Humans and higher primates have always been able to make and work such diagrams in their heads.) We show arrogance and hubris when we mistake the model for the real world, and treat its behavior as if it always and accurately represents what the real world will do in a given situation. We show appropriate humility when we never lose sight of the fact that our model is only a limited abstraction that, at best, can sometimes approximate the real world. And that it represents structured knowledge which is both the legacy and invitation to improve from one generation to the next. But in the end, we have no choice other than to model (algorize) the parts of the real world that we wish to understand and/or to control, whether we hunt the wooly mammoth, fly an airplane, or interpret an MRI scan. Without a model we are less than rock apes. With a model we can soar to the stars or kill ourselves – there are only possibilities and no guarantees.

Randy Curtis

Even this state school edumacated redneck can understand the 21 Dec,2008 Ruminations. I am
going to lie down and chew on it awhile.

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