Managing uncertainty cont…

Posted on January 9, 2011


“Delusions of grandeur make me feel a lot better about myself.” Wagner.

Jenny:”I remember you talking about how many of your assumptions or beliefs you can mentally and emotionally afford to question or modify at any one time. You said that living and managing uncertainty was like repairing a ship at sea, in order to concentrate on repairing one part of the ship you had to presume that the rest of the ship was sound. Otherwise you’d be running from one problem to another and never getting anything fixed. Like some people can’t make up their mind, can’t decide which of their problems or tasks to work on so hardly get anything done.”

Peter: ” Like the little Dutch kid trying to plug holes in the dyke by plugging them with his fingers til he ran out of fingers. My life’s like that, it’s always springing leads – so what the hell, have a few drinks and at least I’ll drown happy.”

Jenny: ” Professor, didn’t your model of managing uncertainty propose that because of our limited rationality we had to trust 99% of our assumptions, beliefs or biases in order to concentrate the rational capacity, time and energy we have on 1% of our assumptions?

Professor Wiggly: ” Yes that’s the functional doubt/trust ratio Quine and Don Campbell proposed. The specific numbers aren’t important, they just want to make the point that you have to blindly trust most of your assumptions, at any given time,  while analysing and modifying a few others. Otherwise you suffer cognitive and emotional overload and if the overload  continues for more than a short time you suffer anxiety, depression and stress related illnesses, like those suffered typically by single mothers, those who have lost their jobs, those caring for an elderly, ailing parent, those running a failing business, etc.”

Peter: ” Yeah, most of us suffer overload  stresses unless we get a government job, sit on our ass for thirty years and hang our hat on a pension, or keep drinking and don’t even notice that our feet are getting wet while our ship is gradually sinking, ta ta….glub…glub….”

Posted in: Sciencing