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Taking an Innovation Journey

By Stephen Murgatroyd -

Innovation is critical for us all. To support a planet with between 9 and 10 billion people, we need innovation in our food supply, water and energy systems and in our systems for health care, social support and education.  Innovation should be a major focus for governments, universities and colleges, business and community.

Yet innovation is so poorly understood. Many see it as the work of a few, especially people in science and technology, not the work of many. When they think of innovation, they think of “breakthroughs” and “game changers” or so-called “disruptive innovation”.  Some innovations are exactly like this – the internet is a disruptive innovation (ask Blockbuster former executives) and penicillin was a breakthrough innovation that disrupted the spread of disease. But most innovation is not like this. Most innovation occurs when someone takes an idea from somewhere (they adopt it) and then they modify it to suit their challenge or purpose (they adapt it). We call this “adopt-adapt” innovation and the best-guess estimate is that 95% of all innovations are like this.

Take frozen foods, for example. The idea came from someone observing that the Inuit froze their food to eat later – they didn’t use deep freezers or packages, but wrapped food in muslin or other materials, stored it in the ice they were surrounded by and heated it up when needed. The idea was adapted to become a frozen food business in the US, which also led to the development of domestic freezers and ready-made meals. While this has had an impact on the food supply chain and on the fast food industry, the starting point wasn’t an “invention” but an “adapt-adopt”. Another example of this is the use of an electric shaver to remove the “pills” from sweaters and clothes – the clothes shaver. Adapting the electric shaver technology for a different purpose has created new products and a substantial market.

 Looking for Innovations

When we want to look at innovation inside a company or organization, the best place to begin is with “pain points”. What gets in the way of high performance and customer or client satisfaction? What are the “moments of truth” where the reputation of the organization is at stake because the service or the product doesn’t always deliver “as it should”? These pain points become the agenda for improvement and innovation.

Next, look at what other organizations do about these same points. In particular, look at organizations in completely different industries and other parts of the world. Look outside your own “box” into other boxes. For example, when we had a problem with getting learning materials to students around the world in the early 1990s (before the internet) we didn’t look just at what other universities and colleges were doing; we looked at what Ford and GM did to get learning materials to their global dealer networks; we looked at what large health care systems did to get best practice advice to their front line medical teams; we looked at what safety officers did in airlines to get safety guideline updates to their crews around the world. This gave us ideas about what we could do in Canada to solve our problem. We adopted some ideas from each of these sectors and adapted them to our circumstance.

Finally, look to try several options and eliminate those that do not produce results. Innovation is as much about trial and error as it is about making progress. James Dyson, when he was working on his breakthrough vacuum cleaner, tried 5,172 prototypes before he found the one that made him a household name in the developed world.

The work of innovation is an expedition, a journey. It rarely is a wake up and shout “Eureka!” experience.  Be prepared for mountains, valleys, difficult rivers to cross and thunderstorms.

Mandela The Teacher – Guest Post by Maxim Jean-Louis

By Stephen Murgatroyd -

As the world mourns the loss of Nelson Mandela and celebrates his life, his role as an educator will get scant attention. Yet, for those who spent many years with him on Robben Island as political prisoner often speak of him as a teacher. Indeed, one of his long time friends from this time sometimes refers to him as Professor Mandela, founder of Robben Island University.

While on Robben Island, Mandela was a student at the University of South Africa (UNISA) – he secured a degree in law by distance education, ironically something which is not possible in Canada as the Provincial law societies have not yet accepted online law degrees as “legitimate”. UNISA was the world’s first “correspondence” university, beginning this work in 1959 – the university itself traces its history back to 1873. While many, like the University of London, had offered some correspondence courses much earlier (Queen Victoria chartered the University of London in 1858), few operated across a range of disciplines at the scale of UNISA. Indeed, the founding of the Open University in Britain in the 1960s was, in part, inspired by the success and scale of UNISA’s operation.

When he came to power, Mandela saw education as the key to the future of South Africa. In a major speech in 2003 he said, “education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world” and he meant it – he increased the funding for UNISA and renewed the Government’s commitment to its future.

UNISA is one of the worlds most successful online and distance learning universities, celebrating its 140th year in 2013. In 2012-13 it had over 328,000 students studying across a range of faculties. It is also the driving force for innovation in the use of online learning and open education resources in Africa and partners with many of the newly emerging Open Universities and Open Colleges in Nigeria, Botswana, and other countries of the Commonwealth.

Indeed, the Commonwealth is aggressively pursuing open and distance education as it seeks to meet the educational needs of its 53 states. New open and distance learning institutions are being created in Mauritius, Namibia, and Bangalore. Existing institutions in Nigeria, Botswana, Bangladesh, India, Caribbean and Sri Lanka are expanding. The Commonwealth Ministers of Education created the Virtual University of the Small States of the Commonwealth (VUSSC), where 31 countries have direct access to 15 programs collaboratively developed across these nations with a further 15 in preparation. VUSSC has also established a Transnational Qualifications Framework which permits all programs and courses within them to be easily transferable across these nations and, through reciprocal agreements, the whole of Europe. Canada has no such transfer agreements between its Provinces and Territories.

Open schools for elementary, secondary and higher education are a priority development in many countries, especially those which would find it impossible to provide face to face educational institutions for all those who need primary and secondary education or those who demand higher education. The Commonwealth of Learning, based in Vancouver, is working in partnership with many governments and educational systems to secure open schools as quality, affordable and effective institutions which can have an impact on learning and society. Mandela would have been proud and, in fact, supported such developments through his own foundation.

So, as we watch the world celebrate the life and achievements of Mandela, the great educator, we should reflect on how his own chosen method of learning – distance education – has helped inspire developments around the Commonwealth which make access to and success in learning more possible for more people.


December 8th 2013

Wisdom Actions – Coping with Crisis

By Stephen Murgatroyd -


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Following from the post on wisdom and leadership (here), we have been reviewing the work on what wise leaders do when faced with challenge, threat or a significant issue. Again we lean heavily on published research on wisdom and coping and on resilience – things I have written about in other contexts (see, for example, Coping with Crisis and Helping the Troubled Child).  This is a rich literature and here we focus on highlights.

When faced with a significant challenge or opportunity, wise leaders:

  1. Distance Themselves for a Period of Time – (several minutes, a few hours or a day or so) so that they can reflect on the situation, re-frame a negative into an opportunity and refocus their own thoughts on what may now be needed and who may now be most helpful. We can call this “stopping before we start”.
  2. Show Courage and Act – they respond to their “re framed” view of the situation and act boldly and decisively, showing responsiveness to the emerging situation and the people engaged in it while all the time showing responsible leadership.
  3. Reflect and Learn – when the situation begins to shift and the “crisis” or “challenge” lessens, the wise leader begins a process of refection and learning which helps them becoming prepared for the next time something happens. This is not a passive process – they seek reaction from others and from mentors.
  4. They Thank Others – they recognize and acknowledge in a very genuine way the contribution others have made to moving the organization along.

When faced with a threat, challenge or change how do you respond?

The Work of Wisdom and Leadership

By Stephen Murgatroyd -



We are not provided with wisdom, we must discover it for ourselves, after a journey through the wilderness which no one else can take for us, and effort which no one can spare us.   Marcel Proust (In Search of Lost Time Vol. II: Within a Budding Grove, 1919)

What is wisdom and what has wisdom to do with leadership?

I am prompted to ask this question as my colleague Sarajane Aris in England is contemplating establishing a Wisdom Institute and we are discussing what this might mean.

Wisdom has many dimensions. It involves at least these seven things:

  • An ability to understand complex problems and see simplicity on the other side of complexity.
  • An ability to show empathy and compassion to others, especially when they are dealing with challenging issues.
  • An ability to understand why there are a range of views that need to be considered so that challenges can be overcome – the options are understood as well as the different perspectives which inform them.
  • An ability to see past the present and short and medium term future and understand consequences for the long-term. This is like a chess player who can see several moves ahead.
  • An ability to live with and through ambiguity and paradox, both in terms of cognitive complexity (many ways of thinking) and emotional complexity (competing feelings).
  • An ability at a time of difficulty to show courage through being a voice of clarity, reason and direction.
  • An ongoing search for meaning and mindful action – pursued through learning, sharing and reflection.

One of the world’s leading wisdom researchers – Monika Ardelt – has concluded that wisdom involves a cognitive component (the thinking elements from the above list), a reflective component (the self-awareness and empathic components of the above list) and an affective component (compassion and concern for others).

It seems to me that this thinking has significant implications for leadership – for those in leadership roles either because of their positions or because they are seen as leaders by others. In the model of renaissance leadership developed by Don Simpson and myself  (see here) we document the six practices of renaissance leaders needed for the twenty first century organization. These are:

  • Practice personal mastery
    They have high integrity and view self-awareness as a prerequisite for leadership. They work hard to develop their capacity to innovate, and to inspire others to join them in making the world a better place.
  • Apply a glocal mindset
    They have a keen sense of history and seek a holistic understanding of changes taking place on a global scale. They use this global perspective as they address local challenges and seize opportunities (global and local – hence “glocal”).
  • Accelerate cross-boundary learning
    They constantly seek to satisfy an intense curiosity about every facet of human life, past and present, scientific and artistic, technical and social. They guide others in distilling meaning from a morass of information, and efficiently apply their learning in creative ways to nurture innovation and drive improved performance.
  • Think back from the future
    They are readily able to imagine and articulate alternate futures and work back from there – connecting with lessons from the past to better understand the present and choose among possible paths to the future they see.
  • Lead systemic change
    They are systems thinkers who seek out patterns, inter-connections and inter-dependencies. They are skilled in seeking common ground and nurturing productive collaboration across diverse parts of a system – be it an organization, a sector, a community, a network – to solve complex problems and drive large-scale change.
  • Drive performance with a passion
    They care that their leadership makes a substantive and sustainable difference, and are relentless in their commitment to performance. They articulate clear (and high) expectations of themselves and others, create focused strategies for innovating to achieve these ends, and are disciplined about assessing progress.

These are the actions of leaders who seek to show courage and drive change with passion. They are the actions we see leaders taking on their journey to wisdom.

What makes for a wise renaissance leader is their ability to practice these six actions with compassion, mindfulness and concern for the long-term whether things are going well or badly. Monika Ardelt’s work on the successful coping strategies of those displaying wisdom confirms this view.

It is an interesting debate. No doubt Sarajane Aris will add to this debate and strengthen our understanding over time.

The Principles of the Challenge Dialogue System™

By Stephen Murgatroyd -

Since it began, the Innovation Expedition has been building a methodology for collaboration which is built on a set of working practices and principles. They inform all that IE does and in particular its work on the Challenge Dialogue System (CDS)™, about which more later. As we prepare to launch the International Institute for Innovation (3i), we thought we should remind all who might want to engage with IE and the 3i what these principles and practices are. They are:

  • Clarify Intentions and Context: Help groups early on, before undertaking major projects, to identify their key challenge and then set proper context for that challenge in order to elicit commitment of others.
  • Utilize Diagnostics: Use simple diagnostic tools to identify priority areas that need attention.
  • Nurture Collaboration: Advocate and become skilled in nurturing collaboration as the DNA (critical element for success) in the knowledge economy.
  • Engage in Co-Creation: Stress and employ the power of co-creation with clients in developing plans for projects.
  • Apply a Communications Template: Use a standard proven CDS Communications Template in a variety of formats to engage teams in action initiatives and to develop the skills of strategic communication in reporting on plans, active listening, strategic thinking, synthesis, integration and clear communication.
  • Build Trust: Recognize the importance of trust in supporting collaboration, co-creation and improved performance—through behaviour, model the three key elements for building trust.
  • Engage in Dialogue: Use the Keys to Successful Dialogue to encourage dialogue rather than debate among team members.
  • Utilize Humour: Deliberately demonstrate a sense of humour to encourage frank dialogue.
  • Set Expectations: Articulate assumptions and expectations prior to any meeting to facilitate clarity and faster decision making.
  • Apply Criteria: Establish criteria for choices before rushing to make them.
  • Understand and Practice Innovation: Learn how to think about and practice innovation in terms of systems, supply chains, and the concept of a culture of innovation in which ideas lead to actions which dramatically improve performance.
  • Draw on Imagination and Out-of-the-box Thinking: Stimulate the use of the imagination as a foundation for practicing innovation and strategic foresight.
  • Practice Strategic Systems Thinking: Understand and practice systems and strategic thinking as the language of the knowledge economy.
  • Focus on Learning: Develop a capacity for accelerated and agile learning and for providing leadership to create learning opportunities.
  • Access Global Intelligence: Be efficient in tapping into global networks and applying a global perspective to all projects (local, national and international).
  • Utilize Technologies: Develop a capacity to choose and successfully use appropriate information and communication technologies (ICTs).
  • Apply Creative Mentoring  Processes: Achieve results through purposeful facilitation built around all these operating principles and make a commitment to practice the Art of Mentoring.

The work of the 3i will reflect these principles and practices. Seventeen is a lot. Our experience is that we need several to be in play for collaboration to be effective.  We thank Don Simpson for refocusing our attention on these principles.

Six Types of Knowledge – A Reminder from Don Simpson

By Stephen Murgatroyd -

We are often asking ourselves “what do we know…?” about this or that. But what kind of “knowing” are we looking for? My colleague Don Simpson of the Innovation Expedition reminds us that there are six kinds of “knowing” and that all have their place in our understanding of complex challenges or problems. The six kinds of knowing

>    Know-what:  is knowledge about specific facts

>    Know-why:  scientific knowledge with an emphasis on technological and product advances

>    Know-how:  refers to skills or competencies, involves knowledge required to transform the know-what and know-why into action which accomplishes a task or produces something

>    Know-who:  knowledge about who knows what and who knows how to do what

>    Know-relationships:  an understanding of the importance of collaboration and of the variety of models by which different individuals collect, process, store, utilize and share information

>    Know-knowledge:  an understanding of the new nature of knowledge as an economic resource and how knowledge can be both an input and an output of process”

In any attempt to understand a challenge all six kinds of knowing are important. For example, knowing who and their know-relationships has an impact in our acceptance of their ideas and understanding. Understanding the connections between current knowledge and related knowledge (know-knowledge) – what we might term epistemology – helps us build a knowledge map which shapes action, innovation and ideas.

Many of us focus on too narrow a range of “knowing” for us to know enough to act. We need to embrace as many of the ways of knowing as we can if we want to tackle “swampy” problems.

The Challenge of Change Management

By Stephen Murgatroyd -

Change management is a difficult task – it requires individuals to shift their “mind-sets” in such a way that it enables them to change their behaviour. What is more, it requires many people within an organization to do this round about the same time so as to build culture change. To enable this, there is a need to change some of the “levers” which shape behaviour. In particular, the rewards and recognition structure, the ways in which performance is measured and evaluated, and the overall “conditions of practice” (e.g. access to technology supports, training, volume of work) which shape the way people work.

Many change management experts focus on just a few of these features at any one time, knowing that changing all of them at the same time is almost impossible for any organizations to do, especially medium to large enterprises. Where the focus is on what gets measured, rewarded, and what counts for recognition.

Where they should begin is in understanding the conditions of practice – the day-to-day conditions which make work possible, impossible, or “survivable”. Let us take three examples:

• A teacher who has a class of 38 Grade 8 students, four of whom have special educational needs (one Autistic child, one with Downs Syndrome, one with a severe speech defect and one who has a muscular disorder). Her classroom was built for 35 students and does not have the room to house all of its students. She does not have access to technology which would permit her to individualize instruction – the school does not have an adequate budget. She has access to a teaching assistant for four half-days each week. She has not received any special training in supporting Down’s or Autism.

• A General Practitioner in a very busy rural practice who finds that they have, on average, 5-8 minutes available for each patient each day and little local access to locums for relief or to fast turnaround medical diagnostic and assessment services. Broadband internet, on which medical practice depends for a variety of supports (medical records, for example) is patchy and unreliable. He has been able to keep a Nursing Assistant for no longer than 8-10 months before they leave for other opportunities and has gone 3-4 months with no in-house nursing support.

• A middle manager in a government organization who sees their workload steadily increasing, the reporting requirements of their position increasing exponentially while they are working with technology which, in the phrase of one of her colleagues, “Noah threw out of the Ark”. As colleagues retire or leave they are not being replaced – part of the austerity drive of the government – but the work still has to be done. “More with less” is no longer a mantra, it is a reality. Now there is a pay freeze for three years and cuts are coming to pension benefits. In these conditions, she is amazed to hear that the Head of her agency wants to see a real focus on happiness in the workplace.

Change management is never easy. For these three people, it will be exceptionally difficult. It needs to begin with an understanding of the conditions of practice which shape attitudes and behaviour. It needs to be driven by values and it needs to involve a focus on working directly with front-line personnel whose work impacts clients, customers, and citizens. Its not easy work, but our International Institute for Innovation (3i) is dedicated to making this work meaningful, relevant, and successful.

Chris Wood – Renaissance Leader

By Stephen Murgatroyd -

Renaissance Leaders in the modern knowledge economy are people of action—but not the ready-­fire-aim type of actor who believes that being fast off the mark in implementing the first plan that comes to mind is the key to success.  They are self-aware people who pay attention to who they really are⎯what some might call their “way of being in the world”—without descending into self-absorption or losing touch with reality.

They are high integrity individuals with a passion both for driving high performance in their organizations and for helping to make the world a better place.

These modern day Renaissance Leaders have a sense of history and an unusual capacity for viewing the world holistically, for practicing systems thinking, for injecting a global and a futures perspective into present challenges, for honouring diversity, and for drawing on ideas and best practices from diverse disciplines and economic sectors.

They have a capacity to function as social and technical architects designing new structures, processes, and products for addressing complex challenges.

They have mastered the art of demonstrating grace under pressure, and of inspiring others to have the courage to collaborate and innovate in order to solve complex challenges.

As we remind ourselves of these features, it has become even more evident, to the Innovation Expedition Team, how privileged we have been to work with and to be inspired by some of today’s true Renaissance Leaders. We wish to recognize, with this Bulletin, that we have found such a Renaissance Leader in the person of Dr. Chris Wood of Nairobi, with whom members of our team have been interacting since the late 1960s.

Part of the IE’s goal, with its emerging Renaissance Leadership initiative, is to take the important time to capture the history of these Leaders; these often humble living legends.

Dr. Christopher H. Wood

Dr Christopher Wood is a well-known name in all of East Africa and beyond. His reputation as a community health practitioner is unparalleled. Many of the health personnel in the region developed under his hands in his role as a teacher, mentor, external examiner, and public health consultant.

Dr Chris Wood qualified as a medical doctor at the Middlesex Hospital Medical School, London, in 1947. He obtained a Diploma in Public Health and a Diploma in Industrial Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (1952-53) and an MS in Hygiene (1955-57) at the Harvard School of Public Health.

Chris Wood’s decision to go into public health was influenced when, as a medical student, he spent his vacations working in a coal mine. There, he saw the advantages of preventing accidents and chronic pulmonary diseases underground as opposed to providing casualty services and compensation at ground level.

After his National Service in 1947-49 on internship at the Singapore Teaching Hospital, he spent short-term spells working at a mission hospital in Assam; a private surgical practice in Nairobi, Kenya; and hospitals in Malaya, India, Sri Lanka, Uganda, and Nigeria. These encounters with different health systems changed his thinking from surgery to preventive medicine.

On return to the UK, Chris was recruited to start the new Department of Occupational Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, where he developed courses in occupational health. He played a prominent role in anti-smoking campaigns, starting the first anti-smoking clinic in England, kicked off by the Royal College of Physicians’ Report on Smoking and Health.

In 1961, he was involved in setting up a fundraising office for AMREF (the African Medical and Research Foundation) in London. In 1963, Chris was invited to Tanganyika by the Government as Public Health Advisor to set up the training program at the Dar es Salaam Medical School, which was established within the Ministry of Health. When the Dar es Salaam Medical School was incorporated into the University of East Africa as a fully fledged Faculty of Medicine under its constituent college in Dar es Salaam, Chris became the founding Professor of Community Health.

In 1973, Chris moved to Nairobi, Kenya to establish the training department of AMREF. Through his emphasis on continuing education for all rural health workers, he established a program to develop and distribute appropriate learning materials, and training of teachers. Training soon became an important component of AMREF’s operations, offering a range of short courses for various levels of the health workforce, and a year-long diploma course in community health. The training department also nurtured a variety of community health activities such as the primary health care program for South Sudan, community health worker support unit, environmental health activities.

In 1985, Chris became AMREF’s Director General. During his tenure, he established two new departments: Health Planning and Management, and Publications. A new strategic plan was developed in cooperation with the East African Ministries of Health and major donors. Chris is a founding member and serves on the Board of Nairobi Hospice. He is a Council Member of the Tropical Institute of Community Health/University of the Great Lakes.

He is also founder and, until recently, Chairman of the Executive Board of AfriAfya (the African Health Network), which is a health knowledge management and communication organization, which brought together eight agencies, including the Kenya Ministry of Health, to collaborate in using information technologies to help empower change agents in marginalized communities to support health improvements.

In another initiative of his retirement, now aged 83, he has developed a “phased training” program for middle-level health workers for the Southern Sudan war zone that has become the backbone for the region’s reconstruction of its health services.

Chris Wood recently has begun an environmental program for saving trees by making cooking fuel out of dry leaves and waste paper in the form of compressed briquettes that can be used in place of charcoal. The manufacturing centre for this breakthrough technology is in the garage of his home in Langatta on the outskirts of Nairobi.

Certainly one of Chris’ greatest challenges in 2008 was his decision, ultimately, to accept the Order of the British Empire (OBE) from Queen Elizabeth II. It was with some angst and after some rather deep soul searching that he decided to accept and travelled to London and Buckingham Palace to receive the honour in recognition of his tireless lifelong commitment to the delivery of health care to marginalized communities. Much of this work has been in Eastern Africa and the Southern Sudan. While Chris may have struggled with whether or not to accept the award, all of his loved ones, friends, and colleagues were overjoyed of this worthy recognition. After the event, true to his rascal nature, we can all imagine him saying — “Well, I am certainly relieved to have that formality behind me!”.

The Psychology of Heretics

By Stephen Murgatroyd -
I have been wondering why otherwise thoughtful, talented and highly educated people adopt beliefs which are difficult to defend.
This triggered by interest in a book by Will Storr called Heretics – Adventures with the Enemies of Science (London: Picador, 2013). The talented journalist and author looks at believers in homeopathy, deniers of climate change, those who believe hearing voices is a natural phenomenon and can be treated by listening to the voices and talking back rather than psychiatric treatments and many others. Why this book is interesting is because it seeks to understand the psychological process by which someone develops and clings to a view despite the fact that the evidence and science is against them.
Paul Krugman, the Nobel Prize winning economist, has also been exploring this theme in his New York Times blog site and in some of his columns. He wonders why, in the face of irrefutable evidence that they are wrong, those who support austerity in Europe continue to do so. He also wonders why economists who are convinced that quantitative easing as practiced by the US Federal Reserve will “obviously” lead to inflation when in fact there is no evidence supporting this view.
Storr suggests and discusses these conclusions:
  1. We each develop, for those issues in which we have an interest, a mental model of reality and truth – our map of salience. This map is based on a variety of things – education, experience, observation, the views of individuals who are significant to us, opposition to the views of those we dislike and so on.
  2. As we develop a map of salience, we seek out (consciously or unconsciously) evidence which reinforces our map and exclude or dispute that which does not. That is, we seek out selective evidence in support of our map of salience. This process in psychology is known as confirmation bias.
  3. The longer we build our map of salience, the more it becomes our “virtual reality” – the way we see this issue or range of issues. Those who believe in homeopathy cannot imagine their world view to be wrong – “homeopathy can cure cancer!” (it can not, and in several countries it is illegal to make this claim as a practitioner of homeopathy).
  4. We don’t stop just at selective evidence gathering. We also create evidence by telling ourselves or sharing stories we understand to be true, even thought they are not. For example, the stories told by those who have been abducted by aliens or have seen UFOs. These stories are powerfully held, told and shared and those who tell them are unshakable in their belief that they are true. This, we can refer to as “confabulation”  – defined as “to fill in gaps in one’s memory with fabrications that one believes to be facts”.
  5. But we are not finished. Individuals then begin to practice what we psychologists call the “sense stopping rule”.  We ignore everything that runs counter to our map of salience and our confabulated stories (confirmation bias) and we scrutinize evidence from our opponents more rigorously than we scrutinize our own claims, data, and stories – that is, we are simply unwilling to accept a different map of salience from our own.
Storr’s book is written as a narrative of his encounter with mavericks, heretics, and hucksters. Its not an easy book to read, but it is insightful. He suggests that “the world as we know it began in the 18th century” with the development of an understanding of the scientific method and process and the growth of the Enlightenment. Science rescued man from the tyranny of beliefs alone and enabled mankind to test their understanding of the world in systematic, thorough, and very focused ways. Through science, mankind has been able to develop a set of maps of salience which are routed in evidence which is independent of belief systems, confirmation bias , the sense stopping rule, and confabulation. At least we think it is.
When scientists begin to show signs of confabulation, confirmation bias, and the sense stopping rule – what do we now do? This is Paul Krugman’s point. When this occurs, our trust in the particular scientist (in this case an economist) and, more generally, in science begins to be eroded.
One of my own problems with some climate scientists is their growing use of confabulation; their clear bias on the basis of “consensus” and the evidence of sense stopping. Not all of the climate scientists can be seen to practice these things, but some significant players can. Just as Paul Krugman wonders what the “science” of economics will become when we have these behaviours occurring, so do I wonder what will become of science itself.