Why the experts are always wrong

Berlin’s hedgehog and fox model has proved highly influential. Hedgehogs know one trick. An expert has a model of how the world works. Chances are this is a very good model. It had strong theoretical training and copious empirical support. It is, however, only a model. It does not contain things extraneous to the model. And it is those factors which lead to revolutionary regime change.

It has been shown that both speciation and businesses extinction rates follow exponential distributions. This is probably true for many more evolutionary systems.

The implication is that the causes of regime change are many, are non-cumulative, and non-casual. Non-casual in that the same event will cause a change one time, yet the same event will not cause a change the next time. Perhaps the system has adopted to the previous shock. “They’ll never hit us with an aircraft again!” (alt.: we will never again have an exploding aircraft…) Perhaps the larger environment had shifted. The last poor employment report coincided with a fall in the stock market; the current poor report was ignored.

We need experts. We need to know how things work. And often, the experts are right. We just can never know when they will be wrong, when the world has shifted such that their model loses it’s explanatory value.

Now, dear reader, the thoughts above are not new. I read them more elegantly expressed some months ago, and again before that. If you could track down another version of these sentiments, I would be most grateful.


Posted on June 21, 2012, in evolution and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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