The Black Sky In The 18th Century
Most people make decisions related to extremely complex processes every day that they don’t completely understand. Generally we approach these challenges pragmatically using existing information and previous experiences - skills that we’ve developed since childhood. This is ‘logic’ and aims to take a straight line through a progression of events that inform choices, which maximize a positive outcome. Yet, where there are deficits in our knowledge, or when things are incredibly complex, we are effectively guessing outcomes. Habitually, we tend to focus on expected conclusions, rather than explore a whole range of possibilities.
But this linear way of thinking is not the only way we can approach challenges. In the 18th century the Reverend Thomas Bayes came up with an approach that shows how our expectations of uncertain situations and be informed in a flexible way that adjusts continually to its context and so, minimizes risk - while maximizing learning. Rather than trying to solve incredibly complex situations all at once, Bayes Rule represents a state of belief, or knowledge, by cutting a system up into more digestible pieces, where knowledge can be accumulated along the way. This is different to traditional forms of logic as the predictions do not deal with absolutes, nor guess at final outcomes. Instead they take the form of propositions that enable reasoning to occur through evolving ideas.
Yet for this kind of questioning to be truly effective, it is important to ask the right questions that re-inform the ideas in the system, so that change in the state of the thought-apparatus is meaningful and contextualized.
This is where Black Sky Thinking comes in. Not only is there an iterative process of adjusting what we know with the observed outcomes so that we can better map the unknown but it also provides a means of shaping questions so that they can appreciably re-inform our ideas. This enables us to creatively explore landscapes, questions and situations where there are no established rules. Participants use their learning, networks and imaginations to find new approaches to important but challenging problems.
Breaking The Tragedy
of the Horizon