The BP blame game.. blind spots

There’s been a lively exchange on GRIST around “Who’s to blame for the Gulf oil gusher?”

MimiK on 10 JUN 2010 8:59AM said:

EVERYONE: This whole issue, and ALL the comments, are all stuck on the same problem: the gap between what we THINK about what we are doing what we are actually DOING.

There is a LOT of theory from a lot of corners, from Buddhism to cognitive brain science to social psychology and more, that each in their own way come to the same conclusion: Human beings have enormous difficulty seeing clearly and truthfully how we are actually acting in life.

We do three things — all of us, every human brain — that make us all LOUSY at the “blame game.” First, we all have a blind spot in the brain that does not see how we are actually acting. Second, there is a gap between what we say about how we are acting and how we are acting — a tendency to believe our own press rather than look clearly and bravely at what we are actually doing. Third, the human brain always UNDER estimates how tragic something is.

So, if you’re going to play the blame game, play it with awareness of our common human brain handicaps: blindspot to how we are actually acting; gap between our words and our actual actions; and chronic underestimation of tragedy. …. Take it from there, people.

I replied:

MimiK,  There’s another dimension to our common cognitive blind spots that helps too. That’s the observable gap between the systems of our thinking and the systems of the physical world…

Consciousness tends to equate reality with the systems of our thinking and so greatly over simplifies and looses track of what the natural systems “explained” may be doing. I’ve written a few things on it from a natural science of systems view, as an inherent hazard of explanation. Once we have explanations for something we tend to think of the natural world as if operating BY our explanations. Of course, it never did or will, so we need to think of explanation as just a coping strategy and remain open to the real mysteries of any subject addressed.

I also approach that by having a list of natural processes that seem to have constant explanation, but usually represent complex systems that are in the process of becoming something else. Basically it’s the four types of accumulative growth systems, recognized from their characteristic feedbacks, (++, -+, +-, –) = (¸¸.•´ ¯ `•.¸¸). They may look regular but indicate complex processes that are turning into something else.

fyi: more at or “What Wandering minds need to know” or “Models Learning Change”


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