Nice. Deep Generalists is a good term. I could talk about this all day, but I won’t (you’ll be glad to hear)

One of the biggest problems is society’s attitude to polymaths. The UK is especially bad in this regard. There are several problems, including the assumption that a “Jack of All Trades” can’t be a master of any one of them [biggest heap of garbage]. The education system doesn’t produce an appreciation of generalised subject matter. To become a polymath, it isn’t enough to have expertise in various subject matter. It is the ability to harness the interplay of that expertise to solve problems that no one subject can solve by itself. Engineering is particularly suited to that. However, even here, we have a resistance to it.

In the UK, we have this minor storyline called Brexit. It’s a mess, but focusing on the pertinent point, the politics is really immaterial. Taking the economic effects as an example, they will be diverse and far reaching. Depth and breadth. However, at best, the country has only got a “1 factor” understanding of what it means in each sector. For example, manufacturing is finished, and this is considered in the impact assessments (badly, but it’s considered). However, the effect of manufacturing’s collapse on the rest of the economy, is not considered. For example, losing your job or hours, means cutting down on disposable income which in turn, reduces luxury spend. A total disaster for hospitality. This in turn, means the economic effects, as measured by traditional government studies, is at best, a total underestimate. As these non-linear, resonant, effects are unaccounted for.

However, you have to be a polymath to see it. The vast, nay, overwhelming majority of the population isn’t. So instead of them attempting to learn, or even protect themselves, they fall into the cognitive bias you speak of, because they don’t know something and can’t find something out. Stating the usual “self-defence” maxims:

  • “if anyone tells you they know what’s going to happen, they’re liars”
  • “nobody can predict the future!”
  • “what do experts know anyway?”.

Because defending their own stupid is better than saving everyone else’s livelihoods and lives. Including their own (cf Wetherspoons Pub chain).

Written by

EA, Stats, Math & Code into a fizz of a biz or two. Founder: Automedi & Axelisys. Proud Manc. Citizen of the World. I’ve been busy

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