5 Unrelated Thoughts Masquerading as an Article

UncertaintyLike most people who think of themselves as creative, I write notes about the ideas I have. I pulled together a few of these ideas to discuss.

My ideas list isn’t well organized and I am always surprised by what I find written on the backs of envelopes. Some times it is hard to tell if it was my own idea, or something I read and forgot to attribute when I wrote it down. I usually do that, but I sometimes forget.

I wonder what other people think about these ideas.

Where Do You See Yourself in 3 Millennia?

This is a very recent idea. I’m not sure exactly how it came about, but I think it was the juxtaposition of something I saw about job interviews with something I saw about ancient history.

The line suggests to me the title of a Science Fiction story. A common theme of SF is the idea of life extension. Will we be able to live for hundreds or thousands of years. What would that life be like?

Many people find it a struggle to imagine where they would see themselves in 10 or 20 years. Some people can’t imagine where they want to be this afternoon. How can people imagine what they want to be in a thousand or three thousand years.

Clue Deficit Syndrome (CDS)

I thought this was a nicer way to say some one was clueless. While I occasionally feel this way about some people, I think it really isn’t a good thing to do. All of us, at one time or another, think we understand things better than we actually do.

Fact Resistant Decision Making

This is similar to CDS, but I think it is a more valid criticism, since it involves a conscience effort to reject valid information. Many times in my life I have been very angry with people who are too quick to dismiss relevant information, or even avoid possible exposure to anything that might conflict with the decision they want to make.

I’ve fallen into this kind of behaviour more than once. Every time I did, I ended up regretting the decision. Often your emotions are in conflict with your intellectual side. While some people say “go with your heart”, when you reject your own analysis, you may find yourself further from achieving what your heart desires.

I think this might be an idea I picked up somewhere else, but I think the wording is my own.

Happy “Excuse To Be Nice” Day

This is a more positive thought than the two above. When I went through a difficult period in my life I made a vow to find an excuse to be happy every day, even if it were for only a few seconds. That was a big help to me.

Later I ruminated on how people will wish people a happy birthday. Why, I thought, don’t we do that every day. No one really needs an excuse to be nice, but maybe if there were an “Excuse To Be Nice” Day, more people would be nice.

I think we can pretend that every day is “Excuse To Be Nice” Day.

Confidence in Uncertainty

A couple of the classes I took for my master’s degree focussed on operational research. The title of a chapter in one of the text books was something like “Decision Making Under Uncertainty”. Throughout my engineering career I found that the biggest technical obstacle was always uncertainty.

For most people, uncertainty is something that undermines confidence. As my thoughts matured I began to feel that I should try to see uncertainty was something that would give confidence.

It may not be a very realistic goal, but the fact is, you need to make decisions when you don’t know everything that could affect your decision. This uncertainty can cause you to hesitate to decide, or even never decide.

The best approach I was able to come up with was to make your decisions with the clear understanding that they could be wrong. Then, you watch how the world unfolds. In time, it will often become obvious if you made the right decision. If you make the wrong decision, you may be able to change your decision, or mitigate the effects of the wrong decision.

I found many people were very uncomfortable with this view of reality.


When I started to write this blog post, I believed that these ideas were all unrelated to each other. After I reread what I wrote, I think they may have more in common that I thought.

1 Comment

  1. The fifth thought on uncertainty reminds me of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s reports (which did a lot to bring climatic change closer to the forefront of our collective attention). They spend literally dozens of pages and reports on their quantification of uncertainty. Whenever I make a presentation about climatic changes in the North, I include a this clip of Donald Rumsfeld re: uncertainity. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GiPe1OiKQuk

Leave a Reply