October 11, 2005

An Article, An Oddity

This is worth looking at, though it starts with a framing oddity: author Fred Kaplan's pre-conclusion that the problem with Schelling's reasoning as it contributed to escalation of violence in Vietnam is "the brash assumption that neat theories not only reflect the real world but can change it as well, and in ways that can be precisely measured." Perhaps this assumption is indeed always mistaken, though numerous aeronautic engineers, say, would disagree.

Regardless, the first lesson I would be inclined to draw here, from an analytic perspective, is not a general lesson about application of theories, but a specific lesson, to wit: perhaps Schelling's theory sucked, and moreover, perhaps it wasn't inspected carefully before use because it suited the ideological desires of its employers. This is implied in the article, certainly; even argued, perhaps. Contrarily, the initial and regulatory admonition is never justified; it just sits there pretending to be common sense, hoping no one asks it any questions.

Posted by jane at October 11, 2005 04:19 PM | TrackBack