Nothing is simple in the real world.

I was reading J.W. Mason’s “Saving and Borrowing: A Response to Klein” and was struck by two of the pictures he provided.

If we were to get in an Internet Argument with someone about saving & borrowing we might have a mental model that looks something like…

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Then we’d go on to argue about why we’re right and someone else is wrong. Mason points out that a more realistic graph looks like…

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No doubt even that is hiding some of the complexity of the real world.

There is something deep within us that craves simple models. We want the world to be easy to explain…at least when thinking about someone else’s bailiwick. “Apple should just do X to raise profits!” “Politicians should just do Y and cut taxes!” “My company’s CEO should just do Z and then he wouldn’t have to lay people off!”

Yet when the shoe is on the other foot — when our boss comes to us and asks why X isn’t done, why Y is late, why Z will take more than an afternoon — we’re only too ready to explain how complicated it actually is.

Maybe this is just a variant on Dunning-Kruger? The world is complicated and I guess we just have to embrace that complexity.

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