A Cornell University study of Maine island honeybees shows their ability to apply three decision making techniques successfully:
open and frank communication of
"The bees' method, which is a product of disagreement and contest
rather than consensus or compromise, consistently yields excellent
collective decisions," says Cornell biologist Thomas Seeley, reporting on a group study published in the May-June issue of American Scientist.
Now, I wonder. Does this apply to honeybees everywhere, or just to those living on rugged islands off the coast of Maine, where there is a tradition of both fierce independence and strong community?
The non-profit Pew Internet & American Life Project just released the findings from its second Internet usage survey. I found much of the data hard to believe, such as "Just 15% said they felt they sometimes felt overwhelmed by the amount of information they had," and "Just 5% said they encountered bad information in the course of carrying out their online research." I expected these numbers to be much higher.
Wow. I've got to get me some of their internets!
During my time at PwC I learned the importance of survey methodology. I looked at Pew's methodology and found the following, which may have something to do with the findings:
"In each contacted household [by phone], interviewers asked to speak with the youngest male currently at home. If no male was available, interviewers asked to speak with the oldest female at home. This systematic respondent selection technique has been shown to produce samples that closely mirror the population in terms of age and gender."
I hope future surveys will include the quality and impact of Internet-supported decisions.
Nearly all decisions are social: what people we know do and say is far more important to us than the facts.
Nearly all decisions are relative: we "line up" others' opinions, just like the police line up suspects next to regular people.
There is a debate raging in the law enforcement community about whether the new way of doing criminal lineups--one possible suspect presented to the witness at a time--is better than the old way of showing them all at the same time.
Paul A. Logli, president of the National District Attorneys
Association said about the individual lineups:
think many prosecutors think doing it sequentially runs contrary to
human nature," Mr. Logli said. "Human nature tells me that having the
ability to compare is more helpful than destructive. Doing it
sequentially is almost like this is a trick question."
It is wondrous to behold how politicians communicate to the lowest common denominator of voters. Yesterday, U.S. President Bush said, ''I'm the decider." He did not use the more traditional phrase, "decision maker." He did not go out on a limb as others have by saying "I am accountable," or "It is my decision." He did not dodge responsibility by using the passive, "the decision was made."
"Decider" is more commonly used in sports, to refer to a match that results in a winner.
The ability to change one's mind is just as important as making it up.
We spend considerable time and effort deliberating decisions. We reward decisiveness in others. We elect politicians who we think will "stick to their guns." We favor people who "take action." When the going gets tough, we dislike "back pedalers" and "flip floppers."
Although the ability to change one's mind--and perhaps, reverse one's decision--is rarely viewed favorably, it seems to me it is the most important.
No one ever has perfect knowledge or intuition. Change is like gravity: it is not arguable. It is just there. Why don't we accept change in decision makers when there is a good chance of a better outcome?
I believe there would be less hurtful stereotying and biased behavior if people were more open to adjusting their views.
I could change my mind on this, but it would take some convincing.
Steve Harvey, over at the Creative Generalist, says this about Demos researcher, Paul Miller:
"He observed that in the UK, Canada and indeed many places worldwide,
there are an increasing number of single-issue politicians being
elected. Why? Well, because general politics is too tough, too complex
- not just for the politicians themselves but for the voters as well.
It is much easier to focus one's energies, knowledge and passion on
only a handful of issues; in particular those limited range of issues
that the majority of the electorate can grasp and cares enough about.
Perhaps that's always been the case to some extent but it has grown
more pronounced in recent years and the facade of the well-rounded
statesman appears to have lost its allure."