Apr 192013

In a Linkedin comment to my previous post, my friend Rupert G. writes:

Massimo, Ignoring any knowledge would usually seem like a bad idea – but if you read “The power of thinking without thinking” it would appear that there are (many) times when our conscious and subconscious knowledge (priors) can lead us in hopelessly wrong directions in ways we find hard/impossible to control. Sometimes it is really better to start with no idea!

Rupert, I would say that Gladwell’s Blink actually concurs with my point. Intuition is a subconscious and often effective source of unknown knowns. Othello’s initial gut feeling about Desdemona was correct and would have saved her life. But it can also be spectacularly wrong – as with 9/11 Truthers and other conspiracy theorists. So yes: better no intuition – prior indifference – than wrong intuition. But good intuition is best, and should be cultivated, not suppressed.

My former JP Morgan colleague Chris D. writes:

I enjoy your work: with “dirty hands sifting pearls and pebbles” and questioning reliance on “equiprobable proportions” – keep them gems coming. In Othello’s case: a major missing prior-component was Pride Probability Factor?

And another colleague, Jack B., chimes in:

or as we say in brooklyn, fuggettaboutit.

Thanks guys. Chris, if I understand your point: remember Othello was initially right about Desdemona. His pride exploded only after Iago swayed him into prior indifference.

As for Jack’s comment, it deserves a whole new post.

By the way, after trying, unsuccessfully, to figure out how to reverse Linkedin comments into the blog, and finding myself berating Linkedin and WordPress for failing to meet my needs, I felt like my favourite comedian Louis C.K. in this viral video (in case you haven’t seen it):

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