March 14, 2008

Second COIN Analogy of the Day: Baseball

For those who've ever wondered why Charlie thinks all serious military analysts and COIN enthusiasts should read Moneyball, I present to you the world according to Bill James (baseball guru and Jayhawks fan):

"All research," he says, "begins with ignorance. The ability to focus on what it is that you do not know is critical to doing research. I'm absolutely convinced that none of us understands the world.

"I'm not a person that the world irritates, to quote Bill Buckley, but you turn on the radio and in any debate, you've got people who are convinced they know. Liberals, conservatives, Christians, Muslims, people who think Terry Francona is a genius, those that think he's an idiot. They're all convinced they've got this figured out.

"None of them has it figured out. We do not understand the world; the world is billions of times more complicated than our minds.

"You can make a useful contribution to a discussion if you can figure out specifically what it is you don't understand and try to work on it. If you try to start from the other end - 'I've got the world figured out and I'm going to explain it to everybody' - maybe there are a lot of people who succeed in doing that, but it doesn't work for me."

Moneyball: it's easier than Kuhn.

Now back to my regularly scheduled dissertating...