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November 01, 2010

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Route2chaos

With political parties heaping blame on each other for mutual perceived failings as crowds boo and cheer, a post about simplistic models applied to complex issues is very timely. I am reminded that with the exception of rare acute crises, and over the short to medium term (election cycle), the President and Congress have as much to do with the powerful, complex forces at work in the economy as Buzz Lightyear has to do with Moon landing. But who cares? It's much easier to blame and take credit.

The parts of the post about feedback were also particularly intriguing; the fundamentals of chaos theory should be mandatory education. This is not only fascinating stuff, but also of immediate practical importance. I am thinking here of financial markets, where expectations drive valuations, which drive expectations, and so on until a local peak or trough is reached.

Unfortunately, society frequently reinforces our natural impulse to seek simplistic, linear, single-cause explanations. Just think of financial news headlines: "Markets today were up/down as a result of...." I hope Dr Wladawsky-Berger's optimism is justified although I am of a skeptical mind.

Thank you for another great post!

Anna Smith

"Complex does not always equal complicated" - interesting TED video:
http://blog.ted.com/2010/11/12/how-complexity-leads-to-simplicity-eric-berlow-on-ted-com/

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