Contra Recklessness: The Black Box Theory of (Everything)

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David Ryan

David Ryan is a boat builder and USCG licensed master captain. He is the owner of Sailing Montauk and skipper of Montauk''s charter sailing catamaran MON TIKI You can follow him on Twitter @CaptDavidRyan

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65 Responses

  1. Avatar Jaybird
    Ignored
    says:

    I’m reminded of The Right Stuff, the scene where the test pilots all talk about the test pilots who crashed as if it were something vaguely avoidable. If they slowed down at the right second, if they sped up at the right second. If they banked or ducked or pulled up. The ones who crashed, crashed because they didn’t have the right stuff… so they got their picture up on the wall.

    Not like us. Not like us still drinking in the bar, toasting those pictures.Report

  2. Avatar Tod Kelly
    Ignored
    says:

    I have different messages akin to this theory put in different ways, especially in risk management. But Vigor’s idea of banking your luck in a box through skill and preparation is a pretty good visualization of those ideas.

    I fully intend to steal (with credit!) his theory in future trainings.Report

  3. Avatar DensityDuck
    Ignored
    says:

    Funny how they’re going to great lengths to not say “God did it”. A “black box”? Seriously?Report

  4. Avatar North
    Ignored
    says:

    Feh, Gore lost the election for Gore. His strategic errors were legion: (under use of a politically potent Bill Clinton being one of the major ones); his performance at the debates were miserable and even once Florida turned into a debacle his attempts to recount only select counties rather than the entire state was a poor choice. If Clinton’s shenanigans had been that lethal they’d have been lethal for Clinton himself, not Gore (hell if the wooden Gore had been caught having a tryst it probably would he at least humanized him).Report

  5. Avatar Pierre Corneille
    Ignored
    says:

    I don’t think we can be all that confident that a Gore victory in 2000 would have spared us much of the bad things that have happened in the last 12 years. Maybe the stars would have aligned differently and 9/11 would have failed, but otherwise, the presidency would have had the strong incentive to demand broader powers from a compliant Congress and citizenry. The US was probably on a collision course with Iraq of some sort with or without 9/11 (although admittedly that collision might not have taken the form of regime change).

    Most important, by 2004 or 2008, there would’ve been a lot of “Democrat fatigue” and compassionate conservatism and neo-con let’s take over the world-ism would not have been discredited yet….paving the way for a Bush Jr. or a Bush Jr. clone, or maybe someone much better…who knows?

    It’s of course hard to make such predictions accurately, which is my point.Report

    • Avatar David Ryan in reply to Pierre Corneille
      Ignored
      says:

      Well of course, there’s no knowing. Counter-factuals are, wait for it, counter-factual!

      Also, if Gore had won in 2000 it would have meant he started his cold-fusion research 4, even 8 years later, and I can assure you, in 2018 those 4 years are going to make a big difference.

      None the less; butterfly, Brazil, even without a “vast right-wing conspiracy” the world is out to get you. Why make it any easier for them?Report

    • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Pierre Corneille
      Ignored
      says:

      Pierre Cornielle got some serious Hari Seldon on. Forget Al Gore, I’m not even sure that Stalin and Mao were The Mule, or even that “Hister” fellow. Looking at the histories that birthed them, they seem like inevitabilities more than freaks.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Tom Van Dyke
        Ignored
        says:

        Mohammed was The Mule. (Maybe Paul, for that matter.) There’s an interesting Silverberg Novel called “Roma Eterna” that, as alt histories go, is particularly appealing to those to whom alt history appeals.

        There’s a short story in there that deals with Mohammed.

        You should pick it up, if you ain’t read it.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Tom Van Dyke
        Ignored
        says:

        May I nominate Franklin?
        Propagandists are always more important than people believe.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Tom Van Dyke
        Ignored
        says:

        To be sure, it’s speculation, but it’s not at all unreasonable. Much of it strikes me as probable: President Gore would likely not have objected to USA PATRIOT, war in Afghanistan, seizure and extrajudicial detention of “terrorists,” warrantless wiretaps, enhanced interrogation techniques, airport security theater including barefoot speed dating, turning a blind eye to Russian and PRC human rights abuses against victims who happened to be Muslim, or the institution of kill lists. President Gore would maybe not have expanded the theater of military adventure to include the deposition of Saddam Hussein. There’s no reason to think that the war in Afghanistan would have gone any better under Gore than it did under Bush. Or any worse.

        Of course, Al Gore never became President, so yes, this is speculation. But I do subscribe to the notion that quite a lot of policy, both foreign and internal, is governed by realism rather than internal ideology — there is little discernable difference between a nation’s political parties or even its ideological centers of gravity when it comes to matters of relations with other nations. Self-interest, cruel and cynical, governs all and most of the rest is window dressing. Particularly in the case of a dominant power relating to other nations acquiring the capability of asserting themselves, promoting regional rivalries, confusion, conflict, chaos, and even civil war amongst other nations is a very effective tool for the maintenance of dominance and preventing regional centers of political and economic gravity from projecting their power beyond a containable sphere of influence. This realism transcends whether the incumbent government is left- or right-leaning.

        Pierre also alludes to institutional incentives for the Presidency to self-aggrandize its own power at the expense of Congress and the judiciary; I think that’s a real phenomenon, and hypothetical President Gore would have been as vulnerable to it as President Bush was in reality.

        There may be Mules in history. (I’d nominate Napoleon, Lenin, and Gandhi as relatively recent candidates, but not Hitler, Stalin, Reagan, Thatcher, or Churchill.) But GWB wasn’t a Mule, and there’s no reason to hink Al Gore would have been one, either.Report

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