Who Can I Talk To And Where Can I Go?
When I discovered and learned it, I automatically subscribed to the simple but profound principle of POSIWID: the “Purpose Of a System Is What It Does” (not what its stewards say it does). Because of this belief in POSIWID, I’ve always been highly skeptical of supreme experts and people in positions of anointed authority. Almost without fail, and sometimes unconsciously, many of these elites have internally motivated, self-serving agendas while externally offering up their vaunted expertise to “help” you and me. According to POSIWID, their purpose is to serve themselves first, while projecting the appearance of serving others first.
As Daniel Kahneman and other behavioral economics practitioners have discovered, people have an innate tendency to fall prey to the “confirmation bias“. The confirmation bias is where you and I take to heart any and all evidence that we’re “right” on a strongly held belief while ignoring any and all evidence to the contrary. Thus, in order to reinforce my deeply held disdain for supreme experts/authorities, I’ve read all of Nassim Taleb’s books along with these two:
All of the aforementioned books are jam packed full of examples in many domains (medical, financial, political, business, academia) where experts and authorities royally fucked up and negatively impacted the physical and material lives of thousands or millions of people. It wouldn’t be so bad if the perpetrators suffered mightily along with their victims as a result of their own expert bullshit, but it’s galling when they escape unscathed. It’s particularly outrageous when incompetent gurus gain while their constituents lose big.
The most recent egregious example of elites winning big at the expense of the multitude is when Wall St. bankers kept getting bonuses (in order to, uh, retain “talent“) while common people were going bankrupt as a result of their “expert” actions during the 2008 crisis. Even today, six years later, not a single financial big wig was stripped of his/her wealth and/or tossed in jail as a result of his dumbass, irresponsible decisions. Another good example is when an “expert” CEO gets tossed a big golden parachute after being booted out of the company he/she crippled. Applying POSIWID to these types of systems results in:
The purpose of a profit seeking institution is to enrich its elites without regard to the impact of its behavior on the well being of any of its other internal and external stakeholders.
I’d love to explore the flip side of this particular belief, which is the “Purpose Of A System Is What It Says It Does“, but who can I talk to and where can I go to read about it?