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Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Types of Knowledge vs Emotion and Ratio

Some weeks ago, I read an interesting Forbes article claiming that Intuition is the highest form of Intelligence. I have some sympathy for this view although I would use Knowledge rather than Intelligence. Human intelligence is usually assessed through an intelligence quotient (IQ) and/or an emotional quotient (EQ).

My diagram below pictures 4 types of Knowledge: Intelligence, Intuition, Fantasy and Beliefs. The risk management terms "(un)known" and "(un)knowns" have been borrowed from Nassim Nicholas Taleb's 2001 book Fooled By Randomness (PDF).

These 4 types of Knowledge also appear in my blogs about the 4 levels of Consciousness, being: conscious (eg, intelligence, beliefs, fantasy), subconscious (eg, intuition), unconscious, and superconscious.

The idea for the X and Y axis came from a recent Nautilus article which mentioned work by Susan Fiske, who is a professor at the Princeton University Department of Psychology.

Susan Fiske categorizes her X and Y axis by warmth and competence, which I translated in emotion and ratio for my diagram.

My diagram plots Wisdom in the center as Wisdom uses all 4 types.

The diagram raises some interesting observations: Beliefs are low on emotion and high on ratio. Intuition is the opposite: high on emotion and low on ratio. Intelligence (IQ and EQ) is both high on emotion and ratio. Fantasy has little relationship with emotion and ratio.

Our emotions are often stronger than our ratio, especially in case of aggression, anxiety and fear (eg, Nautilus). Our intuition senses danger and fear while our intelligence tries to minimise such seemingly overdue evolutionary emotions (eg, my blog). Hence, my sympathy for the Forbes article: if highest means strongest then I cannot but agree. 

1 John 4:18 claims: "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love." If this is true then I have never met perfect love. I do believe in Fran├žois de La Rochefoucauld's words: "We promise according to our hopes (intelligence) and perform according to our fears (intuition)". 

Intuition (2003) by Jewel - artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

The Trump-Farage Revolution of disruption, chaos and destruction (4)

Several days ago, former UKIP leader Nigel Farage stated: "I think if we had a second referendum on EU membership, we'd kill (the issue) off for a generation. The percentage that would vote to leave next time would be very much bigger than it was last time round and we may just finish the whole thing off and Blair can disappear off into total obscurity." (CNN)

Apparently, Nigel Farage is of the opinion that the current chaos in the UK isn't enough to guarantee a British exit from the European Union. I have some sympathy for his feeling - albeit from a different perspective. My blogs on Mrs May's Machiavellian Moves come to a similar conclusion: the UK will not leave the EU although Brexit might - formally - continue.

It's interesting that Nigel Farage claims that the Brexit voter turnout was too low to give a decisive outcome on Leave vs Remain. I fully agree. I disagree with his reasoning that Leave would benefit from a higher voter turnout. The opposite is probably true and Farage must know this. 

Out of an electorate of 46,501,241 people, 72.2% or 33,573,896 people casted a vote, including 26,033 rejected ballots. Leave won with 17,410,742 votes (or 51.9%). Remain lost with 16,141,241 votes (or 48.1%). 27.8% or 12,923,225 people did not vote. Source: BBC. It's unlikely that many Leave activists would not have voted given this unique opportunity. 

It's much more likely that a higher than 72.2% voter turnout would have benefited Vote Remain. These people did not vote for various reasons, like the oxymoron of a binding consultative referendum, the perceived impossibility of a Vote Leave. Obviously, a 2nd referendum would not benefit from the false promises of Vote Leave (eg, Brexit bill, NHS funding, UK economy).

Given the above, it's valid questioning Farage's motives for proposing a 2nd Brexit referendum. Based on Nigel Farage's alliance with Donald Trump, his main motive is likely to be similar: creating (more) disruption, chaos and destruction (my blog 1, blog 2, blog 3). 

It's unlikely that Mrs May would survive the outcome of a 2nd Brexit referendum. Either Vote Leave supporters in her Cabinet would take over - or Labour. Labour would create perfect chaos as its leader is even more clear on his position about the tainted love between the UK and the US than on the tainted love between the UK and the EU (the Times).

Nigel Farage's proposal for a 2nd Brexit referendum will be welcomed by Vote Remain, and questioned by Vote Leave. It is truly Machiavellian as the end justifies the means. The end is creating disruption, chaos and destruction. The Why follows from Who is benefitting from the chaos. In May 2017, a German interviewer came (too) close (eg, Independent). 

The moment there is suspicion about a person's motives, everything he does becomes tainted. A quote by Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948)

Tainted Love (1964) by Soft Cell (1981) - artists, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

Monday, 15 January 2018

Blue Monday

Blue Monday (1983) by New Order - artists, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

How does it feel
To treat me like you do
When you've laid your hands upon me
And told me who you are

I thought I was mistaken
I thought I heard your words
Tell me how do I feel
Tell me now how do I feel

Those who came before me
Lived through their vocations
From the past until completion
They will turn away no more

And I still find it so hard
To say what I need to say
But I'm quite sure that you'll tell me
Just how I should feel today

I see a ship in the harbor
I can and shall obey
But if it wasn't for your misfortunes
I'd be a heavenly person today

And I thought I was mistaken
And I thought I heard you speak
Tell me how do I feel
Tell me now how should I feel

Now I stand here waiting

I thought I told you to leave me
While I walked down to the beach
Tell me how does it feel
When your heart grows cold

Friday, 12 January 2018

The temptation of Oprah Winfrey (by Edward Luce)

"It is easy to see why so many Americans are tempted. As her speech at the Golden Globes ceremony showed, Oprah Winfrey is everything that Donald Trump is not.

Unlike Mr Trump, Ms Winfrey is a certified billionaire. She made her name by marketing empathy as opposed to saying “you’re fired”. She donates to charitable causes rather than pretending to do so. And she is self-made while Mr Trump was born in a feathered nest. But they share a disqualifying trait: they are celebrities with no experience in politics. If Ms Winfrey is the answer to Mr Trump, what was the question? 

I mean no disrespect to famous people. America invented the celebrity and nobody does it as well. But America also came up with modern democracy. The problem is that celebrity culture is taking over politics, which is a dead loss for governing. If politics were a popularity contest, Ms Winfrey would deserve to win. Against Mr Trump, she would merit a North Korean-style 100 per cent turnout. But there is nothing in Ms Winfrey’s background that would equip her to tackle the future of work, or the rise of China. All a Winfrey administration would bring is personal brand destruction. 

What is at stake is America’s ability to govern itself sensibly. The US constitution was designed to exclude mob rule. The people should have their say — but with safeguards. It was set up precisely to stop someone like Mr Trump from taking over. The fact that many Americans do not know this underlines the point. The popular view is that the US was founded as a democracy. In fact, it was born as a constitutional republic. There is a big difference. America’s founding fathers feared the demagogue. Their system worked until 2016. Now it is in jeopardy. 

Ms Winfrey’s ascent would seal America’s fate as a country that no longer takes politics seriously. If the answer to Mr Trump is to fight celebrity with celebrity, the idea of public service would die. For all her virtues, Ms Winfrey is no readier for power than Mr Trump. By contrast, Ronald Reagan, who was twice elected as governor of California and had once before run for the nomination, was qualified for high office. He began life as an actor but he did not reach the White House because of that. A life in politics taught Mr Reagan the art of compromise. Politics is about spending capital to achieve messy results. Being a celebrity is about protecting your brand. 

Perhaps America is too far gone to stop the celebrity takeover. Other democracies offer warning signs. In Italy, Silvio Berlusconi is staging a comeback. The octogenarian is in with another chance of power in Italy’s next election a few weeks from now. Having elected him on previous occasions, Italy’s standards are permanently lowered. The Roman pantomime has become normal. In Germany, by contrast, politics is still safely boring. Because of its history, Germany is better inoculated than most to the siren song of celebrity. In the past, western democracies built walls between church and state. The wall we need today is one that would separate entertainment from governing.

But let us suppose that is impossible. What would happen in a 2020 face off between Mr Trump and Ms Winfrey? The first casualty would be the Democratic party. By nominating Ms Winfrey, it would have conceded the argument that democracy is a reality television show. Today there is still one party that values expertise. Tomorrow there may be none. 

The second casualty would be Ms Winfrey. The Trump machine would scour her biography for any mud that would stick. In a contest between brands, Mr Trump would relish the prospect of taking on a rich, black liberal woman. He might well win. Even if Ms Winfrey won, the contest would entrench culture war as the dominant mode of US politics. Culture wars are a zero-sum game. Even when you win, you are losing. 

The only time Ms Winfrey dabbled in politics was when she endorsed Barack Obama in 2008. I was at that New Hampshire event. “You are the one,” said Ms Winfrey of Mr Obama. It was an electrifying moment. Mr Obama was also accused of lacking experience. Compared to Ms Winfrey, he was a veteran. Ten years on, Mr Obama would be a good sounding board for Ms Winfrey. If his advice is wrong, she should listen to Nancy Pelosi, the most seasoned Democratic legislator. “One of the arguments for Oprah is 45,” she said — in reference to Mr Trump as America’s 45th president. “One of the arguments against Oprah is 45.” Which was Ms Pelosi’s way of saying: “Stick to your day job.” That was smart advice."


Thursday, 11 January 2018

The Truth as a perception of reality

Last weekend, a Dutch newspaper published an interview with a Dutch journalist who radically changed his opinion about his profession (Volkskrant). The journalist stated that he cannot recall that the purpose of journalism was ever discussed in editorial meetings. It took him years to recognise the negativism in media perception.

I was also intrigued by one of his other remarks: "Many journalists are inclined to paint a dark picture of reality. They describe half-truths and even less, because in many ways the world is doing well." He continued by giving examples of positive developments that are unfamiliar with many people because most media do not report about it.

I can relate to the above. Journalism has indeed become an opinion serving a certain demographic group of (potential) customers, rather than an attempt to describe what is happening - or Why. The (legal) principle of a fair hearing is often ignored or neglected in journalism. In Latin this concept is called audi alteram partem, a.k.a. let the other side be heard as well.

We all need something to believe in. Hence, my concept of the 7 Belief systems. For some, it's about the Truth. For others, it's about LoveMoneyPhilosophyPoliticsReligion, and/or Science. We believe in the Truth as we see or perceive it. Our perception then becomes our reality in this belief system. Few people are able to change our perception.

Fake news (my 2016 blog) is a tailored perception (or opinion) serving a certain demographic group of (potential) customers. The degree of bias differs and is often along the lines of the arrogance of the Left versus the ignorance of the Right (my 2017 blog). Both arrogance and ignorance are a result of closed mindedness (my 2016 blog).

Open mindedness is required for being able to change our beliefs. Open mindedness requires a head full of doubt (see video below). Terry Pratchett has a great quote on open mindedness: “The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it.” Doubt provides fertile ground for (sound) arguments.

In general, the 7 Belief systems benefit from open mindedness, else beliefs will become more and more extreme. Closed mindedness will make you believe that there is only one Truth. Open mindedness will make you believe that each side has some valid points. Combining these valid points often results in acceptable compromises. We call this the Dutch polder model, a.k.a. consensus decision-making. It brings long-term social stability.

Perhaps Love is the only Belief system that benefits from closed mindedness. This may explain expressions like Love is blind, and/or Love sees through rose coloured spectacles. Some 400 years ago, Fran├žois de la Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) already stated: "In friendship as well as love, ignorance very often contributes more to our happiness than knowledge."

Head Full Of Doubt / Road Full Of Promise (2010) by The Avett Brothers

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

The decline in Common Knowledge (2)

With hindsight, my 7 January blog on the decline in Common Knowledge felt like an introduction to this topic. Subsequently, I realised there is an interesting link with the 4 components of human intelligence: Knowledge (known knowns), Beliefs (known unknowns), Intuition (unknown knowns), and Imagination (unknown unknowns). My diagram below outlines this relationship.

Knowledge & Facts, including Common Knowledge, are under increasing pressure from Technology (eg, the internet), search engines (eg, Google), and online libraries (eg, Wikipedia).

The essence is this: Why bother remembering facts if you can look for it whenever you need it?

Our Beliefs & Opinions are under attack by a continued stream of Fake News (my blog).

Our Intuition & Feelings are fed by artificial fears as human fears are an excellent manipulator for certain types of leaders (my 2015 blog2017 blog).

A continued lack of sleep (a.k.a. sleep deprivation) has a "deleterious effect on the brain" (BigThink).

In today's society, all 4 components of human intelligence are under attack: the yellow components are shrinking while the orange components are inflating.

There also seems to be an uncanny relationship with the 2011 NYT best-selling book Thinking Fast and Slow by Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman. The yellow areas seem to fit the Slow brain while the orange areas seem to fit the Fast brain. Wiki: "System 1 is fast, instinctive and emotional; System 2 is slower, more deliberative, and more logical".

It's also tempting to make a link to the Strauss-Howe Generational Theory (my blog) and "its four-stage cycle of social or mood eras which they call "turnings". The turnings include: "The High", "The Awakening", "The Unraveling" and "The Crisis" (Wiki).

I think, feel and believe that a decline in Common Knowledge fits the 3rd Strauss-Howe turn: "the mood of this era they say is in many ways the opposite of a High: Institutions are weak and distrusted, while individualism is strong and flourishing" (Wiki).

The World is Unraveling (2017) by MILCK - artist, bioFblyrics, video

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

The platform economy vs the ECJ

On 20 December 2017, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that Uber is a transport company (ECJ, Guardian, Verdict). This verdict has far-reaching consequences for similar companies like AirBnB, AmazoneBay, Facebook and Google. These companies usually claim to provide nothing more than an IT platform while competing with businesses in the real economy.

Other examples of unfair competition are Amazon and eBay. Forbes, 22 November 2017: "It has been well documented that American e-commerce platforms such as Amazon and eBay have become cesspools of counterfeits and other illegal and potentially dangerous goods that are mostly coming in from China, but, impervious to the apparent irony, Beijing is upping the regulations on foreign e-commerce merchants selling goods the other way."

Facebook claims that it's an IT platform company rather than a media company. It denies any responsibility for the articles - or (Russian) advertisements - on its platform. Obviously, laws and regulations for IT platforms are much less strict than for media companies. The ECJ verdict will be welcomed by several European countries which are holding Facebook responsible and liable for its content, lack of data protection, and/or lack of privacy (eg, GuardianNYT, Reuters).

The Apple App Store and the Google Play Store are further examples of IT platforms and 3rd party (app) suppliers. At times, the distinction between content and platform becomes opaque whenever certain content is banned from competing app stores, like Amazon, Apple or Google (eg, Bloomberg, BI). The reasons for banning are sometimes controversial (eg, CheatSheet, TechArrivalTelegraph). 

The platform economy makes (perfect) sense, in and of itself (eg, HBR, IssuesWEF). It's an internet based copy of markets in the real economy. However, supply and demand are global rather than local because internet hardly has any of the restrictions of the Space and Time dimensions. Often the internet creates a dominant global market player which either becomes a monopoly or part of an oligopoly. Other players can join - at a hefty (eg, 30%) commission. 

The use of a dominant global IT platform and local vendors also makes (perfect) sense (eg, AirBnB, Facebook Marketplace, Uber). If and when these local vendors do not (need to) comply with local rules and regulations, their competition becomes unfair to local vendors who must comply (eg, hotels, taxis). The ECJ verdict will help to create a level playing field

Banks also have a keen interest to join the platform economy (eg, ING-2017). Small and/or boutique fintech suppliers may wish to use a banking platform to have a wider audience for their services. Third parties may, however, create substantial reputation risk (eg, scamming). 

In the simplest of words, the ECJ verdict is similar to the so-called Duck test: "If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck." It's increasingly unlikely that the platform economy will become a high-flying ruddy shelduck.

Disco Duck (1976) by Rick Dees and His Cast of Idiots