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E Philip Small
214 followers -
Business: Restoring soils for clean water and healthy communities
Business: Restoring soils for clean water and healthy communities

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So appreciate these observations. 
I've seen various comments lately attempting to grapple with the current mood of disdain for the political class and their minions in academia and "think tanks", the financial press, etc.

One questioned whether the experts who make failed predictions are actually experts. Another noted that "expert" is a social construct but that overconfidence was a scientific construct. Failed experts have made the scientific error of overconfidence, which can in theory be corrected.

"it is still true that we turn to doctors, accountants, plumbers, motor mechanics and weather forecasters for their expertise, and rightly so. Why are some experts indispensable some of the time and others not? I suspect the answer is simple: there are no experts on the future. Explaining the present and the past requires expertise: “it’s your carburettor/prostate”. In forecasting the future, experts are generally no better than everybody else. They might be worse." ...

"Beginning in the 1980s, Philip Tetlock, now of the University of Pennsylvania, ran a tournament testing 28,000 specific predictions from 284 experts over 20 years. He found that on average expert forecasters were only slightly more reliable than chance, and that simple extrapolation was usually more accurate. The more famous the forecaster, the worse his or her performance. (He has since found there are a very few “superforecasters”, generally rather self-effacing types, who do more consistently get things right.)"...

“Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts,” said the physicist Richard Feynman, reflecting on the tendency of research to explode complacency and embarrass experts who tell you what’s impossible."

"Experts are notoriously bad at seeing technological change coming. When they do, they often expect it in the wrong area. Fifty years ago, after dramatic changes in transport but not much change in communication, futurologists were all babbling about personal gyrocopters, regular supersonic flights and routine space travel – none of which have yet materialized. Very few of them saw mobile phones coming, let alone the internet, search engines or social media."

"So trust experts, yes, but never about the future."

Well, don't trust them a lot. The future will arrive and reveal that even the expert analysis of your plumber/doctor about your present problems was at best partial and in part mistaken. It may be the best that can be done at a given time, but the chances of it actually being good are near zero. You hire them to do what they can, but remain vigilant since the one thing that you can trust is that soon they will be shown to be wrong.

Systems are dynamic, iterative, and each iteration changes the state space. Our "experts" don't have many tools to deal with this, and often don't have the intellectual or emotional tools to deal with the lack.

If you must believe in something, or trust something, do as Feynman suggests: believe in the ignorance of experts, since it is implied that further study will illuminate the issues a little better.

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Awesome way to give back to the land when clearing a bit of forest. This is for when the alternative is leaving behind mountains of slash.

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Carbon hoarders unite! 
Paris First Movement
" The Paris talks are doomed even if they succeed, because even if they succeed they will have won the wrong argument. " On November 17 we heard David Wasdell , of Project Gaia-Apollo and Team Leader of the Global System Dynamics and Policy Co-ordination Ac...

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I will be leading a glean tomorrow (wednesday) evening. It involves 3 trees with about 200# (6 boxes) of delicious ripe golden plums.

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Looking West. December 10, 2011,
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Cool mashhup of composting facilities in Washington state - http://www.toxipedia.org/display/FOC/Composting+In+WA+State

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The night track of the moon and planets gets so low at the summer solstice. 
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The wonderful Tiffany and her fiance, our son, Ryan
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WSU's site for connecting organic grain buyers with producers. We get our organic wheat flour from Montana, looking forward to the day we can get it more locally.
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