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American Gridlock

January 31, 2012

How do we resolve the current political gridlock over healthcare, the economy, and a myriad of other problems? It is clear that there are no easy solutions, and putting off making choices will just make the ultimate cost we pay that much more expensive.

This week for our Outside the Box we deal with just this question, in a piece from a master of logic and reasoning and one of my favorite writers. I absorb everything I can get my hands on from Dr. Woody Brock. He has written a new book, called American Gridlock: Why the Left and Right are Both Wrong" (www.amazon.com/gridlock). I am doing something very unusual and giving him two back-to-back editions of Outside the Box, this week and next, to outline his own book in his own words. He generously agreed to do so, as he (and I) are passionate about the topic of getting to a solution. If we do not solve this crisis in the making, it will impair our future generations for a long time, not to mention its effects on our own lives.

I should note to my non-US readers that the principles in this book extrapolate to situations outside our borders, and I suggest you too read this OTB carefully. Gridlock is not just an American phenomenon, but a result of the changing of the way we process information in the age of Big Data. From this piece:

"Regrettably, what has happened in recent years is that 'pure' inductive logic has been replaced by that bastardized form of data analysis all too familiar from today's Dialogue of the Deaf: As time goes on, each side cherry-picks ever more data to strengthen their prejudiced positions. Thus, positions become ever more shrill. Belief modification and dialectical progress are rarely achieved. In this sense, giving young research associates Excel spreadsheets plus the wealth of information accessible from the internet is proving very dangerous to informed debate. 'Factoids' are confused with serious logic, and young people are all but clueless about Hume's imperative: You cannot data-crunch your way to the Truth. Ever."

I know some of you will disagree with Woody on certain things, but your disagreement will probably be with his basic assumptions, not his reasoning thereafter. What he is talking about is akin to some things I studied way back in the day, but that have fallen from fashion – as Woody points out.

Coincidentally, Woody will be here in Dallas tomorrow night and Wednesday, and we will break bread (and other culinary delights) at Stephan Pyles' fabulous namesake establishment with Rich Yamarone, and then attend the CFA Forecast Dinner here in Dallas on Wednesday.

You can learn more about Woody and his economic services at www.SEDinc.com, as well as see some of his previous essays. Enjoy your week; I know I am going to enjoy mine.

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