March 24, 2009

Complex systems and intuition vs rationality

...destruction of the invading disease organisms; chronic infection; destruction of the host; or symbiosis...
James Lovelock's four possible outcomes for humans vs Gaia, quoted in Straw Dogs, p8
Recent interview and Q&A [mp3] with James Lovelock, who has good stories and is cheerily gloomy about the outlook for humanity. He's 90 this year, but sounds decades younger.

Many good things to take away, but one I noted down at the time: There's no use being rational about complex systems, as all models that we'd rationally produce are gross simplifications that make us over-confident in their simplified [i.e. wrong] predictions [cf. recently discredited financial models]. In such cases Lovelock says it's best to observe a lot and then be intuitive.

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