So many good ideas

Nothing could be further from the instinct than rationality and therefore rationality was also the height of madness.

Saul Bellow

A peasant discovers that many of his chickens are dying, so he seeks advice from a priest. The priest recommends that the peasant say prayers for the chickens but the chickens continue to die. The priest then recommends music for the chicken coop, but the deaths continue unabated. Pondering again, the priest recommends repainting the chicken coop in bright colors. Finally all the chickens die. “What a shame,” the priest tells the peasant , “I had so many more good ideas.”

Another related human impediment comes from excessive focus on what we do know: we tend to learn the precise, not the general. We do not spontaneously learn that we don’t learn that we don’t learn. The problem lies in the structure of our minds: we don’t learn rules, just facts, and only facts. Meta rules (such as the rule that we have a tendency to not learn rules) we don’t seem to be good at getting. We scorn the abstract; we scorn it with passion.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Development in Gambia doesn’t learn that it has hardly helped the situation of most people. It doesn’t learn that there is no project or initiative that will ‘work’. It doesn’t even try and contemplate the rule that for the country to develop, the system of government must change. We scorn the abstract concept of freedom.

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