On Uncertainty And Creativity

Perhaps this will now sound redundant, I will repeat: binary thinking is dangerous and more importantly it is inaccurate.

What I mean by this is not ground-breaking, although lots of wicked-smart dudes like Godel and Sartre have pointed it out in revolutionary sounding ways.

Perhaps best conceptualized in the garb of quantum-mechanics, my point is simply we can’t quite put our finger on the “truth” in any important sense. We can’t know everything about where an atom is if we know its speed, we can’t know what our politics “should be”, and we surely don’t know where our stock market will go tomorrow.

The best we can know is some probable outcome. We can make good guesses and act accordingly.

Where we get in trouble is when we think we are better than that.

It is the overconfidence that statistics gives us about an improbable world that is potentially damaging.

“Knowing” something to a “confidence-level” of 95th percent is surely helpful, but as the statistics-obsessed pollsters showed us in this election, even when the questions are binary and we work really hard at answering them, predicting the “truth” of the matter is hard.

The cool thing is that such uncertainty creates the space not only for mistakes, but it also, importantly, creates the space for innovation, creativity, and improvement.

And it is in this space, in the midst of the abyss, that we should seek to find in ourselves the inspiration to make a change in our worlds for the better.

Just what that picture looks like for each one of us will be different. I am surely still working on mine. But that is part of the fun of creation – it looks different every time.

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