[Paleopsych] souls, Kerry and Bush

Lynn D. Johnson, Ph.D. ljohnson at solution-consulting.com
Mon Sep 13 13:26:30 UTC 2004

Good morning, Paul:
James Surowicki's book, _The Wisdom of Crowds_, suggests there is an 
astonishing aggregate wisdom available. Thus, we find that an 
independent group of people with varying degrees of expertise is better 
at predicting future events than any group of interacting experts.  When 
experts interact, they all begin to think the same things. Thus, all the 
hysteria in the 1960s about how we were facing widespread starvation 
(Paul Ehrlich's notions). But independent groups of people giving 
independent opinions that can be combined appear to be much more capable 
of predicting the future.

Surowicki's opening example was Francis Galton's visit to a country 
fair, where for a sixpence, fairgoers guessed what the dressed weight of 
a steer would be. Galton, no fan of the common people, obtained all the 
tickets with the guesses after the contest, and used the mean of 787 
'votes' to determine the wisdom of the average voter. The mean guess was 
1,197 pounds; the slaughtered and dressed beast weighed 1,198 pounds.

I have been fascinated by his book and the implications of how to solve 
difficult problems like the one you raise. I am using a chapter in it 
for my MBA problem solving class this fall. It may well be that we 
should pursue these kinds of group guesses about the future, along the 
lines of the widely ridiculed 'terrorism futures' that was proposed a 
year ago.  In any case, there is reason to hope! If Bush wins the 
election (as it now appears he will), then perhaps there is group wisdom 
operating that exceeds that of individual wise men and women.
Lynn Johnson

Werbos, Dr. Paul J. wrote:

> Good morning!
> Two comments.
> First, a clarification of my last email. I was trying hard NOT to give
> my personal views of who Bush and Kerry really are.
> In all honesty -- I had decided maybe two weeks before that the 
> measurable
> (if still fuzzy) preponderance of logical evidence favors Kerry for 
> now. For example, Kerry's energy
> proposal includes ELEMENTS of what could really save us (the flexible 
> and hybrid vehicle plan);
> that, combined with action in other parts of the world, could give us 
> some real hope and provide a basis
> for further development in a positive direction. He has been trying to 
> move in the right direction.
> The Bush team responses to his plan -- that its hopeless even to try, 
> that we need to give
> more pork barrel and tax breaks to our friends first (in effect, 
> holding Congress hostage --
> "You can't get what YOU want, saving the American people, unless you 
> triple or protection money first)...
> well, that logic seemed clear. On the US economy and the deficit, I 
> found myself agreeing 100 percent
> with the Economist. And on war -- Cheney's comments about 
> "sensitivity" really drove me up a tree;
> it is a commitment to a way of thinking that would have lost every war 
> the US has ever been involved in!
> I am reminded of enthusiastic football fans who just say "push them 
> harder" without having the slightest idea of what
> is going on down at the ground level. (And indeed, I see certain 
> erosions even in US military capability
> as a result of what some people think is a "stronger" policy.) I think 
> Liddell-Hart once had
> things to say about stuff like Pickett's charge... the grand macho 
> brainless utter losers.
> OK... but the voice of the American people has said something else. 
> And that's a voice we all do well to listen to.
> And the polls are only very, very fuzzy that way... focus groups 
> epsilon better... but best is a deeper kind
> of listening.
> There was an email here citing Bloom's view of the soul. With al due 
> respect, I differ. I doubt I
> can do justice to that before breakfast and going to work.. but I'll 
> try a bit.
> I use the word "Quaker" (and, at times when people can process two 
> tricky words, "Quaker Universalist.").
> I believe there is something very real about the practice of 
> listening. So my last email was some
> attempt to exercise that faculty, at a time where it is especially 
> challenging.
> In fact -- there is more.
> I sense a perception out there that Bush may be 50 percent 
> crony-hypocrisy, 30 percent utter corruption
> and immorality, and 20 percent really trying to listen to an inner 
> spiritual voice himself. I also sense
> a perception that Kerry is only 10 percent corruption, but 90 percent 
> crony-fuzzy-well-meaning.
> Which is to say that keeping one's friends smiling is the biggest part 
> of either man's motivation.
> People don't like the hyprocrisy and corruption part -- though they 
> may not realize just how heavy the costs are --
> but they feel that Bush is more or less "on the job" (as much as he 
> will ever be), and they feel that the 20 percent
> really counts for a lot. (I would put the anti-abortion stuff in there 
> with the hypocrisy, of course, as
> I would with all religious leaders who waste energy on the same 
> distractions, in a world still full
> of starvation and pain and -- more serious -- credible threat of far 
> worse.) Bush is somewhat
> engaged, in a watered down, with the Excalibur kind of thing -- not at 
> a high level, really, but Kerry
> has yet to engage in the same way. He has BEEN engaged that way in the 
> past, I think.
> His role in Vietnam showed that. How to combine thoughtfulness with 
> that kind of immersion?
> I think that is part of the challenge to him, to do better with 
> people. Just a guess.
> But then again, maybe the fuzzy low-energy images need to be worked 
> on. The comments
> "I would do EVERYTHING different" (on Iraq) really helped, in my 
> view... but... that was only
> one episode.
> And of course, there is room for Bush to do better as well. As I said 
> last time, the little hints of simplifying
> taxes instead of just handing out gobs to specific friends... It would 
> have been better yet to convince
> people he had turned over more of a new leaf, ala McCain and cutting 
> into corporate welfare
> (indeed, the kinds of things Rubin talked about at the democratic 
> convention, where the
> Republican response was "Can he really do it? WILL he? Or is it empty 
> words from
> another craven wimp, no better than oour guy on such maters?" ). Maybe 
> it wouldn't hurt for
> Kerry to emphasize that he would cooperate hard with McCain ANYWAY, if 
> elected,
> to get the bipartisan coalition needed to really throw the 
> money-changers out of the temple,
> that he would not run such a partisan administration...
> And again, as I said before, the growing world pessimism about was 
> between Islam ad the rest of the world
> is also a factor in these elections.
> But... time to run...
> Best of luck to us all...
>    Paul
> _______________________________________________
> paleopsych mailing list
> paleopsych at paleopsych.org
> http://lists.paleopsych.org/mailman/listinfo/paleopsych

More information about the paleopsych mailing list