If there is one central cause to all earths woes…..
…it is that people are really really very bad at deciding things, and all our current systems are deeply flawed.
If people are so bad at deciding things, then how can I trust the statement you just made, when at some point you must have decided that it was true, even though you, by your admission, are bad at deciding things?
I think the gist of John’s statement is that organizing multi-agent behavior is difficult (deciding what to do as a group). John might also have meant that deciding itself can be easy, but deciding correctly is difficult.
On the subject of organizing behavior, and how social systems can end up pursuing non-optimal paths, I really enjoyed this read “Meditations on Moloch”. (warning: it’s pretty long)
/u/ChadSki below is correct.
We are (within the limits described by Arieli in the book “Predictably Irrational”) reasonably good at deciding fast, about things in our own self interest.
But coming to correct decisions maximizing the benefit for all members of society.
Very Very Bad.
Even in that small sentence I have it wrong.
Do we really want to maximize the benefit for all members? Or should we maximise the benefit for (or at the very least minimise the harm to) the most vulnerable in society?
Because it is such a hard problem, we defer to so called “decision makers”… a practice which is fraught with it’s own problems.
Among the less obvious of those problems is what I call “The Managers Syllogism”.
“I am an Important Person. If that subject / field / fact was Important, I would know it. I don’t know it, therefore it isn’t Important.”
This tends to happen at a subconscious level, but is most obvious when arguing for the need to reduce technical debt. :-)