09 March 2010

In the footsteps of giants - the fallacy of initiative

My favourite blog is stumbling and mumbling (see link in the corner).

I highly recommend three of his lastest articles.

Cutting spending: the BBC warning

Tony Pulis: capitalist lackey; and

Media bullying and cognitive biases.

Each looks at an important issue of game theory and economics.

Media bullying, in particular, raises an issue close to my heart – the fallacy of initative.

I'm a war nerd (though not The War Nerd of Exiled fame (again see link)), with a tendancy to go for the bad guys.

I thought the Empire a lot cooler than the rebels and my favourite tank is the Panzer Mk V. In a breath taking leap of logic, I thought the Red Army a lot cooler than those pussies in NATO.

So I hate how the bad guys are always portrayed in popular culture. Marching stoically into the good guys well placed trap and getting slaughtered. I think it appeals to a generation that grew up playing Galaga.

In my view that’s not war, that’s war porn. Like beating up the fat kid at school and then bragging about what a big man you are.

It seems to me, this is a projection of the fallacy of initative, the mistaken idea that only one side (your side) comes up with clever ideas and the other side is merely reactive.

In real life it never works. Just go ask:

The Germans in 1942 “the Reds could never mount a mobile double encirclement at Stalingrad";

The IDF in 1973 “Egyptians pull off a combined arms operation across the Suez Canal? I don’t think that’s likely”;

The US in 2008 “Sure we’ll out source production to China, what’s the harm? Russians? Who cares what they think?
We’re the only super power now baby."

As a good friend once reminded me “we are measured by the enemies we fight”.

So are our enemies.

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