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Science & Life Decision Making

Science

written by Mike Sterling for Canadian Community News

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Decision making is hard to do in one's personal life let alone in government and science.  One trait that all great decision makers share is a thirst for facts.

We've written articles about this subject before when we investigated the nature of 'common sense' and how it cannot be depended upon in science or in any complicated area.  (Click for a deeper look at common sense Read More )

We see that in the DGR process, where many well meaning people look to their own 'common sense' and not fact based conclusions.  This was clear in the objections to the 238 page Joint Review Panel final report.  Even now the Ministry is asking for more clarification in key areas.  That's expected.

Yesterday I looked again at Canada's most recent Nobel Prize winner, Art MacDonald on video Read More. In the video Dr. MacDonald shows us the decision making process in Science at its best.  You can't but help admire the process as outlined in his study of Neutrinos. 

His work goes hand and glove with theoreticians, who use his experimental results to fill in the blanks of the 'Standard Model'.

Incidentally, MacDonald's ongoing project is taking place deep inside the famous Nickel Mine near Sudbury.  The mine was used because of its very low radioactivity at great depth.  Canada knows how to dig deep shafts.

Recently I watched Michael Hayden, four star general and former head of the CIA.  He spoke about how we cannot use intuition (common sense renamed) in the complex world of international relations and intelligence gathering.  Experience and intuition might spark a path to be taken, but facts are always the signposts of the way to truth. 

Hayden has spent a life bringing evidence forward to those who can act on it.

We can use 'common sense' when it's cold outside and that fact leads us to turning on the furnace.  Police detectives use what they call clues, but facts are what they need in the end before a court of justice.  They have to put before a prosecutor not their clues, but real facts or as many as they can gather.

Hayden was describing the danger of the way Donald Trump views professional intelligence gathering or facts in general.  Trump trusts his own intuition more than the professional fact finding process.

He states that "I know more than the Generals do about ISIS!"  He denies facts and often is the last person in the room holding to some point of view. (Obama was born in the Hawaii)

A recent example of Trump common sense tells him that the Russians had nothing to do with 'hacking' networks in the Democratic National Committee's offices.

He is sublimely ignorant. He states that you have to catch the perpetrators in the act. He suggests the hacking could have been done by a 400 pound man sitting on his bed. Where has he learned that? Oh, yes his intuition.

He does not like the intelligence briefings that other Presidents did daily.  He does not like to read either.  He likes to react to his intuitions and especially if he is called to task about something.

Experts say that he should review the intelligence briefing every day, even though it bores him.  Over time he should put forth questions that probe into the murky world of intelligence, so he can make decisions from a menu of poor options that bedevil leaders all over the free world.

So, the lesson to us is clearly on the side of fact finding by experts and constantly reviewing the consequences.  This is driven by questions put to them.  

Some people have commented to me that all these tough decisions depend on your experts versus mine.  I disagree.  There are ways to pick your experts.  If you stand with views that are rejected universally, then you should look inward and then intensely outward.

Click the orange arrow to read the second column

Art MacDonald 2015 Nobel Prize Winner in Physics Read More

General Michael Hayden

 Former Director of the CIA Read More


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Friday, December 16, 2016