Solving society's problems (or complex problems in general)

Started by winkio, August 03, 2011, 07:40:55 pm

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We all see problems in society, whether it's the rise of obesity, the collapse of the economy, or the misuse of the legal system.  The efforts to solve any of these problems always look the same:

"Hey, A is a problem which we can solve by doing B!"

This is a single problem single solution construction.  It's really only good at handling simple things like dropping your car keys, which can be solved by picking them up.

In reality, problems with society are complicated.  I personally see them as a many problem no solution construction.

For example, a poor family that is going broke has another child.  They have to support themselves, support their current children, and support the new child.  They could spread the little they have even thinner, or give the child up for adoption, or force the oldest children to start working.  None of those is a solution to the problem, as each action only adds another level of complexity.

Now the only reason I bothered posting this is because of the amount of bullshit I've heard on the news about the US government.  I keep hearing about the single problem (the debt ceiling) and an either-or choice for a single solution (cut spending or raise taxes).  This is the type of thing where acting on a simplified construction will just increase the complexity of the problem.

In my opinion, if people want to even partially solve the problem, they need to understand the complexity of it.  I think if people try a simplified solution, it is impossible to improve the situation, and will only add additional levels of complexity to the problem.