The Eye of the Beholder

Good decisions are always based on the point of view of those judging.  “What is better?” all depends on what you are optimizing for.

In the book The Power Broker, by Robert Moses, there were two plans to create Central Park in New York City.  One was to leave it as a natural habitat for animals and people who wanted some hiking.  Basically to leave it untouched.  The alternative plan (and the one eventually adopted) was to put in baseball fields and trails and theaters and all kinds of man-made objects.  This included sculptures and crafted lakes and botanical gardens.

The manicured plan was horrifying to the naturalists.  However, it is hard to imagine Central Park being as wonderful of a place if it was an unkempt forest.  Each side hated the plan of the other.  Neither is “right”, but that won’t stop people from arguing about it.

Another similar situation is Climate Change.  The book Freakonomics talks about climate change and the differing views of how to fix the problem.  One approach is to stop polluting.  This is similar to the natural central park plan.  Leave it the way nature intended it. The alternatives include some geo-engineering. Nathan Myhrvold is one of the leading minds in this area.  And of course, there are people who deny that it’s even happening and that we should just keep polluting.

Politics is rife with this problem.  What is the good decision?  Are some politicians against a good decision for political reasons or do they really believe it’s a bad decision?  Does it even matter?  Should corporations be treated as people?  Should unborn children have the same rights as when they exit the birth canal?  She the minimum wage be higher?

Every single decision has pros/cons.  There are always people on every side of an issue.  How can we possibly make good decisions in this environment?

I have no answer.  My only salvation is that we have progressed a species this far. Fairly impressive feats if you ask me.  Hopefully, we can progress further still.

Leave a Reply