Harvard’s masters of the apocalypse – Times Online

  • tags: no_tag

    • “We all failed to understand how much [the financial system] had changed in the past 15 years or so, and how fragile it might be because of increased leverage, decreased transparency and decreased liquidity: three of the crucial things in the world of financial markets,” he said.

      “We all failed to understand how that fragility could evidence itself in a frozen short-term credit system, something that hadn’t really happened since 1907. We also probably overestimated the ability of the political process to deal with the realities of what could happen if real trouble developed.

    • You can draw up a list of the greatest entrepreneurs of recent history, from Larry Page and Sergey Brin of Google and Bill Gates of Microsoft, to Michael Dell, Richard Branson, Lak-shmi Mittal – and there’s not an MBA between them.
    • about a third of students were inclined to define right and wrong simply in terms of what everyone else was doing.’


Bergson, Duration, and Metaphysics

  • tags: no_tag

    • The concept of duration is interesting .Duration occurs as part of space-time in contrast to time which is open-ended.Time .as we understand in normal parlance is space-time but one can always envisage a Time without being tied up to space-a type of time which has relationship with a physical space.The interesting thing about this concept is the flowing time,the time that has no relationship with a specific space or an occurence. For example there is the concept of Indian time which does not recognise precise time but just an approximation to time.I have never thought there was already a concept of "Indian Time"-not Indian time as we understand it in India-but the way it is understood among the native American Indians -a concept of free flowing time .In India we joke about it when we do not adhere to punctuality in appointments ,which is a very common thing in our country.
    • post by adukuri

Nudging people to the desired choices

  • The Obama thinktank -a book called "Nudge" defiing his policy of gently nudging people to the desired choices

    • people are busy, their lives are increasingly complicated and they have neither time nor inclination nor, often, the ability to think through even all important choices, from health care plans to retirement options. Therefore the framing of choices matters, particularly using the enormous power of the default option—the option that goes into effect if the chooser chooses not to make a choice.
    • the power of inertia in human behavior, and the tendency of individuals to emulate others’ behavior, that there can be huge social consequences from the clever framing of the choices
    • By a "nudge" Thaler and Sunstein mean a policy intervention into choice architecture that is easy and inexpensive to avoid and that alters people’s behavior in a predictable way without forbidding any options or significantly changing an individual’s economic incentives. "Putting the fruit at eye level counts as a nudge. Banning junk food does not."

What Schiller thought of poets

  • The German poet, playwright, and critic Friedrich Schiller thought there were two kinds of poets: "sentimental" and "naive" (and neither term, for Schiller, was an insult). Sentimental poets, he said, are self-conscious and retrospective; they "look for lost nature" in the people and things they write about. Their characteristic works, Schiller believed, sound carefully wrought, conclusive, even if written at high speed. Naive poets, on the other hand, seem to "be nature"—poetry seems to come out of them as wind from the sky, or leaves from the trees, as if it were their native speech. Naive poets often sound as if they never revise, even when we know they’ve worked hard on many drafts; their poetry seems to flow and does not want to end.

    tags: no_tag

The tyranny of “groupthink”

  • Groupthink is an interesting phenomenon which can occur when a group of people gathers to make a decision. Essentially, desires for group cohesiveness and a quick decision cloud the judgment of the people in the group, leading to a decision which is less than ideal. Social psychologists have studied groupthink extensively in an attempt to understand the warning signs of this phenomenon, and to develop methods for avoiding groupthink. Irving Janis was one of the first social psychologists to delve into groupthink, publishing a study on groupthink in the context of foreign policy decisions in 1972. He argued that groupthink was probably responsible for some of the more unwise decisions made by the United States government, backing up his claim with studies of group dynamics. Many studies of groupthink focus on foreign policy, since the groups who make these kinds of decisions tend to be classically pressured and very cohesive, setting up an ideal situation for groupthink.

  • Several things characterize groupthink. Members of the group tend to experience illusions of unamity, morality, and invulnerability within the group, meaning that they think everyone agrees, they are under the impression that their decisions are morally based, and they think that the decisions made within the group are always sound. Groupthink is also accompanied by self-censoring, in which members of the group stifle their opinions because they are afraid of controversy. The group often engages in heavy stereotyping of other groups and the situation they are dealing with, and there is often an immense pressure for conformity within the group. One of the hallmarks of groupthink is collective rationalization, in which the members of the group rationalize thoughts or decisions in flawed ways. This rationalization is often supported by so-called “mindguards,” who prevent contradictory information from entering the group discussion. As the members of the group work with incomplete information, high pressure, and a desire to conform, they come up with an idea which may not be balanced and well considered, like the decision to invade another country on the basis of flimsy evidence. There are a number of ways to avoid groupthink. Most importantly, the group must start out with no clear expectations and desires, and dissenting opinions must be encouraged, to the point of asking individual members of the group to argue against ideas as they are presented. Many organizations also break groups up into smaller committees which come back to the main group with their ideas, in the hopes of stimulating more discussion and creative ideas. In a situation where discussing decisions with people outside the group is feasible, people are encouraged to talk with people not in the group, to see whether their ideas will hold up in the outside world.

    tags: groupthink

How often have I seen this happening in our organisation! The individual decisions of a few strong-willed people often pass off as group decisions merely because the so called leaders ,often self-appointed ,put down dissent by the simple method of shouting louder, using lots of fluffy unrelated data and oneupsmanship. In the group discussions held as part of the promotion process,several clear thinking people get left out because the other participants are brash enough to leave them no room for airing of their own views..The Management’s representatives ,who are supposed to evaluate the individual’s contribution get easily taken in by the apparent consensus that seems to be building up around the leader’s viewpoint and come to the facile conclusion that the aggressiveness of the so called leaders is really what they have to look for in the promotion process and end up rating them higher than the other participants who are considered "also-rans"

Talking to ourselves

Language and self-awareness

tags: “inner speech”.”inner dialogue”

  • …we most often need to talk to ourselves in order to understand who we are. That is, inner speech is frequently required to access self-information and to gradually build a self-concept. To illustrate, let’s imagine that you want to reflect on an abdominal pain you are currently experiencing. It is very likely that you will engage in an internal monologue, thinking “Why is it that my belly hurts? I feel cramps… Ha! I get it-I skipped breakfast…” You could go on and also notice: “I’ve been missing breakfast often lately… I tend to sleep in, I don’t eat breakfast, and by noon I’m starving… And I don’t go to the gym as often as I should… This is bad-I’m getting lazy…” Here the adjective “lazy” constitutes the conclusion that you have drawn from your inner monologue; it may then become a more or less permanent part of your self-concept. So inner speech, and thus language, would play an important role in self-referential activities. Said differently: inner speech would represent an important cognitive process underlying :self-awareness. Note that this view does not implicate that there is no self-awareness without language. We can be aware of a pain without having to talk to ourselves about it. However, I argue that the sensation will be fully brought to consciousness only if we verbally label it.

My own experience is that we do not talk to ourselves but merely comment on the course the mind is taking .There is a running commentary ,which goes on all the time .The commentary links up the different parts of the brain activity as we experience them and consolidates each cluster of related activities in a small capsule and makes us aware of it as an experience . There is a process of consolidation and arriving at an epigrammatic truth .Looked at this way the process takes place in language or a related brain activity and this way language helps in self-awareness.

Are we now into more methodology development than in idea creation ?

Sunset for Ideology, Sunrise for Methodology?  

tags: no_tag

Late 19th and early 20th century scholarship was dominated not by big ideas, but by methodological refinement and disciplinary consolidation.
the 19th and early 20th century, by contrast, took activities like philology, lexicology, and especially bibliography very seriously. Serious scholarship was concerned as much with organizing knowledge as it was with framing knowledge in an ideological construct.
I believe we are at a similar moment of change right now, that we are entering a new phase of scholarship that will be dominated not by ideas, but once again by organizing activities, both in terms of organizing knowledge and organizing ourselves and our work.
The new technology of the Internet has shifted the work of a rapidly growing number of scholars away from thinking big thoughts to forging new tools, methods, materials, techniques, and modes or work which will enable us to harness the still unwieldy, but obviously game-changing, information technologies now sitting on our desktops and in our pockets.
All of these things—collaborative encylcopedism, tool building, librarianship—fit uneasily into the standards of scholarship forged in the second half of the 20th century.

“Sunset for Ideology, Sunrise for Methodology?” by Tom Scheinfeldt

The process of knowledge aggregation through the open source technologies and use of new digital technologies is slowly taking place without our being aware of it always, except through the historians of science like this .But it is through the aggregation of individual bits of ideation that the process shall move forward .It is not merely the new tools or methodologies that shall take the humanity ahead in its journey towards mastering the world but the faster and more consolidated process of giving shape to new content developed through the innovative genius of the human mind .The role of methodologies is to facilitate giving shape to and bringing forth newer content which will add to the sum total of human knowledge.