Jan 2, 2013

A Short Note on Threat Evaluation


  The media is seemingly constantly awash with stories of dread; from the 'fiscal cliff' to the 'debt crisis' to various acts of violence and political turmoil we seem to be inundated with threats. Leaders of democracies, self-appointed intellectuals, and various flavors of activists seem to be constantly 'doing something' about these threats.
But very little seems to change over time. Despite the sweat, treasure, tears, and blood spilled over these issues we seem to be frozen in a sort of status quo in many critical areas.
This is because of a critical error made at the very beginning; a failure of threat evaluation. By this I mean, bluntly, that the vast majority of people in positions of influence are too trapped within their paradigm to properly evaluate threats to society, leading them to vast amounts of waste. The result is true threats are ignored and solving phantom threats produces phantom results.
Here is a blunt example of what I mean.

A Stone Age tribe is wandering near the edge of their territory when they encounter a group of strangers. These strangers seem much life the tribe; they wear face paint (although the patterns are different) and matching clothing and are armed with spears or clubs. The leader of the tribe counts only 6 strangers, as opposed to the 9 tribesmen with him. The man he thinks leads the strangers is armed with a club, like the chief, as a sign of authority.
Thw chief evaluates the strangers as a possible threat. While they are fewer in number, the strangers are taller and broader than the tribesmen, which could be a factor. The strangers' spears have unusual points – their spear points are very long and serrated along one edge; they would inflict terrible wounds! And their spears are short and heavy, obviously designed for the big strangers to use them as clubs as well as thrusting weapons.
But his tribesmen have long spears designed to thrust or to throw – they will be able to keep the bigger strangers at bay. And each tribesman carried two spears – they can throw one, killing or crippling a few , and then surround the rest easily. The chief also looks at his own two-handed war club, a massive weapon inlaid with sharp stones. The leader of the strangers has only a small hand club, more a symbol of leadership than a weapon!
His threat evaluation over, the chief strides forward confidently, ready to cow the strangers and, if necessary, destroy them.
But the leader of the strangers is also evaluating the situation. His squad of Royal Marines has bayonets fixed and full clips in their assault rifles. He has his 9mm pistol out, just in case. He looks at the 10 men his squad stumbled upon with their primitive speaks and no body armor and strides forward confidently....
Trapped within his paradigm, the chieftain is evaluating the wrong threat. Indeed, he cannot even begin to understand what threats he is facing.
Many leaders of the world, self-described intellectuals, journalists, and policy makers are in similar positions; so caught up within their own paradigm that they cannot grasp the true dangers staring them in the face. Between a false dichotomy of Left and Right, a rejection of objective morality, the belief that certain facts are merely 'social constructs', and the various national and regional concepts (such as Americans thinking Libertarians are conservative) this blindness to true threats is, perhaps, inevitable.
This is why Edan is sometimes slow to respond, or takes a seemingly contrarian position (or no position). We must focus on real threats and on understanding what they are and where they are coming from.  
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