Sunday, 2 November 2014


Wherever I go people tell me that times are terrible, unprecedented and that le deluge is on the horizon. And they tell about a whole load of extraordinary conspiracy theories.

That The Duke of Edinburgh had Diana killed, that the Malaysian Airline was brought down by the CIA, that the Ebola epidemic is the result of a Chinese biological warfare experiment gone wrong, that Nigel Farage is being funded by Qatar, that President Bush arranged the destruction of the Twin Towers in New York, that there was corruption in the Scottish Independence Referendum and the result should have been a “yes” win and that yes indeed the moon is made of cheese.

Nothing is normal in many people’s minds because normal is a bit boring. The human brain is ingenious and complex and loves making up stories. There’s a theory known as Occam’s Razor which states that among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected. In other words the least convoluted simple story is probably right; accident, hard luck or human error - that kind of thing.

The reason we are such a melodramatic bunch is that it feeds our fascination with the macabre. Our brain’s default mode is in fact wandering about not being a forensic Sherlock Holmes’ organ of investigation, problem solving and decision making. We are hardwired to like storytelling and surprises.

Yet the prosaic truth is we have despite the shocks along the way managed to create a well-ordered world where most systems work pretty well with occasional misfiring like an unnecessary war or a deposition of a dictator (hurray!) but with unforeseen consequence (ahh!)

What we find it harder to do is learn from experience and  accept that ordinary can be OK .

How to solve problems and make brilliant decisions. (Business Thinking Skills that really work) published by Pearson is coming out on November 7th 2014

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