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This is an interesting take on an interesting article.
And look at the blog title! I am adding some wheight here to my exploration of Phronesis.

I quite like what Cheryl Rofer has to say here, I’d like to read more!

For all that for no good reason at all I think the Empire is doomed. Or maybe a good reason is that there is opposition to it, it is crumbling from within, its addiction to oil is leading it to rock bottom.

Can it complexly adapt? It has a long history of doing just that. But like us all it will die one day.


Phronesisaical: Complexly Adapting Commentators:

Sunday, February 28, 2010 Complexly Adapting Commentators I read Niall Ferguson’s article in Foreign Affairs (subscription required) the other night in dead-tree version, after I had turned my computer off. It looked like shooting fish in a barrel, so I thought about blogging it, but a number of things intervened, and my general feeling of bummed-outness at the level of Ferguson’s argument kept me from doing it.

But Ferguson has a short version of the article in today’s Los Angeles Times, and David Ignatius likes it. DougJ and the Balloon Juice crowd have said most of what I would have. I’d like to add one thing, though. When we physical scientists work up a hypothesis, one of the things we have to show is that it’s the best hypothesis. We have to look around to see if other hypotheses fit the evidence. And there’s another hypothesis beyond Ferguson’s extremely flawed one that predicts societal crashes. If you have a finite amount of investment to support yourself, say your savings for retirement, and if you spend faster than the investment produces income, things will look pretty good for a while, and then will rapidly crash. It’s the inverse of the compound interest effect: you’re using mostly interest for a while, but as you start using capital, you get less interest, and you use more capital, and you fall off a cliff. The money disappears in no time at all. That model implies different causes and remedies than does Ferguson’s, so it would be useful to test both of them against the facts and against whatever they are supposed to be. And, as the Balloon Juice crowd shows, Ferguson doesn’t know what he’s talking about. We’re bound, unfortunately, to hear more stuff like this on complex adaptive systems; they’re part of today’s intellectual hit parade and can be made to explain or support pretty much anything. As we see, the phrase and the excitement Ferguson produces from it appeal to Ignatius. Several of the spot-on BJ comments:

This is an interesting take on an interesting article.

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