[lit-ideas] Re: Can You Imagine 2 + 2 = 5?

  • From: "Andreas Ramos" <andreas@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "Lit-Ideas" <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 21 Nov 2007 09:17:47 -0800

From: <palma@xxxxxxxx>

Now I am honestly losing track.
What is the point here? That "might makes it right"? That if one-two-n
people believe firmly, fervidly imagine, take for certain that X, then

Yes, that sums it up: Might makes right. The majority determines reality.

That is at best a shoddy piece of reasoning.

No, it's broken. It's not reasoning at all. But it's reality.

To say "that's illogical" or "it doesn't compute" is to withdraw. That won't convert them.

My preferred example is the vast majority of Germans who fervidly
believed that the Slavs were vermin to be exterminated. They changed
their mind in Stalingrad in this very days of winter of 1942.

"Battlefield conversion" isn't sufficient. True believers die for wrong beliefs. Just look at suicide bombers.

This isn't a theorectical or philosophical issue for me. I have to deal daily with people who don't understand complex processes. They are not dumb or average intelligence. They are smart people who are successful in the business world. But everyone isn't bright at everything; there are many things that I'm lousy at.

So I have to explain the process. Put it up on a white board. Walk them through it with simple examples. Correct the numbers (and they nearly always mix up the numbers, which is why I pointed out that one can indeed imagine 2,222 + 2,222 = 5,444; I see this nearly daily). When they grasp the examples, then we move on to actual cases, using their company's numbers. This generally works.

(Not all of them get it. I'd say about 95% figure it out. But occassionally, a few simply don't get it. They stick to their ideas. As we say in Calif: whatever. Move on. There's plenty of others who will get it.)

Palma was right: motivation (not logic) is key. Business people want a few bright and shiny things: get more sales (they get a bonus), beat the competition (that's quite fun), grow the business (the wife and kids will be happy; the employees will be happy) and so on. Business isn't complex like academia.

They don't really care that 2+2=4 because it is logical. They care only if I can show them that it grows sales. If it doesn't "impact the bottom line" (as they say), then it's irrelevant. If one could show that astrology works, they'd use it.

Don't get me wrong: I'm not being snobbish about this. I find it fascinating. Just as engineering or chemistry is the hands-on effort to understand and manipulate the physical world, business is a practical effort to manipulate a wildly complex situation. It's very satisfying and challenging to come up with solutions that actually work.

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