skepticism and complexity

Every fortnight I curate some of the observations and insights that were shared on social media. I call these Friday’s Finds.

“Skepticism: the mark and even the pose of the educated mind.” —John Dewey

“A developed country is not a place where the poor have cars. It’s where the rich use public transportation.”@EnriquePenalosa

“We rarely appreciate all that our enemies do for us. They test us and make us stronger. They exploit our flaws, motivating us to correct them. They show us what we do not wish to become. So many memorable lessons. What fine teachers our enemies are.”@TheStoicEmporer

The Structure of Negative Social Ties in Rural Village Networks via @NAChristakis [emphasis added]

“In principle, negative ties could serve a valuable purpose in social networks, just as they do in situations far beyond social networks; for instance, they are critical component for the proper functioning and synchronization of brain patterns … and in deep learning algorithms … One purpose might be to play a role in structuring networks for some sort of social optimality, such as that involving cooperation. A shared antagonist may not only foster cohesion among members of groups as a whole but also among pairs of individuals. For instance, A may be more likely to cooperate with B if they have C as a common enemy rather than as a common friend. Prior experimental work has shown that people cut ties to those who take advantage of them in cooperative interactions and that this kind of ‘decentralized ostracism’ helps stabilize cooperation … Possibly, having antagonists could work analogously, stabilizing cooperation.”

“Address complex problems by removing the obstacles to their expression.”@AdamKahane

Commencement Address 2018 by John Seely Brown (PDF)

“The ‘Catch 22’ of wicked problems is that one cannot learn about the problem without probing it or trying solutions, but every solution you try can have lasting unintended consequences that are likely to spawn new complex problems … But, by now, you must be wondering: how can I keep developing better ways of sensemaking or interrogating context, or, simply picking up new skills given that the half life of skills seem to be shrinking to 5 years or less, and new tools are emerging, almost daily. One approach is to develop a broad and diverse network of colleagues that provide access, insights, and learning opportunities, starting with the connections you have already made here … Perhaps, maybe we can even create the Age of Imagination where we can fuse the arts, humanities & sciences, creating a new kind of alloy having properties that will differ significantly from those of their individual components.”

Images below — “Cuando la derecha flirtea con el fascismo.” [When the right flirts with fascism.] via @ictologist

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