Freakonomics and complexity

Dave Pollard reviews Freakonomics. Like Dave I think it’s important to see the difference between complex and complicated. (This is the jumping-off point for my More Space chapter, to be published soon.)

By seeing systems as complicated, we leave the door open to “experts” to charge us lots of money for detailed analysis, as if problems can be solved if we know enough about them. The case study methodology of B Schools encourages this approach. If we see systems as complex, we can move beyond the quest for certainty and manage in the real world.

I fear, however, that some of the prophets of complexity are closted complicators. They manage to make complexity seem abstruse and difficult. They become experts in complexity. Which is fine I guess. But for the rest of us, a willingness to admit “I’m not sure” might be a more useful way to deal with complex problems.


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