Committing to noise

This week’s newsletter was about injecting noise, and the use of divination as a mental tool for shaking and breaking our framing of the world. The idea that divination and fortune telling can have a use in rational thinking is not that radical, but I still think it is a powerful reminder that the human mind operates on its inputs and that those inputs tend to get selected for alignment with our current view — the mind seeks stability of views, and you have to shock it to unsettle that stasis.

The newsletter only touches on individual use of noise in different forms – but there is one addendum that I would like to just suggest could be interesting, and that is collective commitment to noise. Say that a management group as a matter of habit takes a key project or problem they are working on and each week formulates a question about that project that they then answer by using the I Ching. The way it could work is that you agree on the question, and then put forward different interpretations of the answer that the I Ching gives.

Would knowing that a company did this make you more or less likely to buy shares in it?

Sure, if this was the only thing they did, then perhaps you would hesitate – but if they did this too? I think it would make me more likely to invest in the company, because it is actively looking for ways to challenge the consensus. Just like I would be much more likely to invest in a company that had decided to regularly use pre-mortems and figuring out why things could go wrong — and here is the thing: the pre-mortem and the divination method are not that different – they both require narrative integration of noisy input into the story we are telling ourselves, and so changes and mutates the story.

This may be one of the few ways we really change our minds – when we are faced with data that forces us to narratively integrate it in our main story.

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