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Mitch Skiles

Owner/Contributor, LuxPerci.com

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Can we look at the past when looking for future solutions to modern problems?

I read a book called "The Black Swan" by Nassim Taleb which proposes the idea that the world is incredibly unpredictable. These "Black Swan" events control integral moments in the history of our species; whether that be a stock market crash or 9/11. In hindsight we may see a trend, but at any given moment the future of a new black swan event is impossible to predict. I am wondering that if this is the case, can we still look into the past to find solutions to problems. I did an analysis of Israel while looking for a solution to the Arab-Israeli Conflict and found an interesting economic trend when compared to cooperation. (If you would like to read my study visit http://luxperci.com/solution-arab-israeli-conflict/ ) Is this a fair assumption?

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    Aug 21 2012: I think past experiences does play a pivotal role in making right decisions which provide solutions to the problems that you face in the present and which there by provides you a vigilant behaviour.Often people say you make wise decisions only when you have made unwise decisions in the past.
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      Aug 21 2012: I agree Chetan, that it's important to evaluate the past, and use the information to improve our present and future. If we do not look at the past, and understand why certain things worked, or why they did not work, we may continue with behaviors that do not benefit the whole of humanity. We learn from the past, as you insightfully say:>)
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        Aug 21 2012: What about the random factors (ie Luck) that caused things to work or not work. Couldn't that time be better spent focusing on making a robust plan to protect from future uncertainty rather than try to force your way through it with plans from the past?
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          Aug 22 2012: Hi Mitch,
          Life is full of "random factors", is it not? I believe the more information we have as individuals, or as a whole, the better choices we can make for ourselves and the good of humankind.

          I think/feel that we create our lives, and it is information that contributes to how we orchestrate our lives....both as individuals and a global community.

          What is luck in your perception? Many people tell me I am "lucky" my life is how it is...content....with opportunity and diverse experiences. OH....and by the way, I had cancer, a near fatal head/brain injury, have degenerative disc dis-ease in the spine, and a few other challenges. Lucky? I don't think so. I think I made lemonade with lemons, and we can do that as a global community.

          I look at the past for the purpose of learning, and I truly believe it is important to look at the past in the global community for the purpose of learning as well. What causes things to work or not work many times, is the decisions that humans make.

          I am not advocating forcing our way through anything with plans from the past. I am suggesting to look carefully at the past, and formulate plans for the present and future that improve conditions in our global community, rather than cause more chaos.

          For example, consider slavery, or abuse and violation of human rights in other forms. I venture to say that the majority of people in our world believe that these conditions should not exist? But they do.

          If we look at the past for information, we find that one important factor which contributes to abuse and violation of rights is isolation. With the communication systems we now have, it is more difficult to isolate people, and that could be a factor toward changing that challenge.

          I say that if we don't know where we've been, we don't know where we are going. I'm not sure if we have any "modern problems". History repeats itself and the problems may manifest in a different form, but based on the same underlying challenges.
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        Aug 22 2012: I really enjoyed reading what you had to say! Thanks so much! Just to further present the other side of this: If we focus on learning from the past to prevent it from repeating itself (this has been the case for a long number of years) than why does it continue to repeat itself? Do you think perhaps people are missing something in their studies? Are we not focusing on the right areas in the past which could ameliorate problems which might manifest themselves in the future. I just find it hard to believe that the past holds the answers when thousands of years of history have been written and analyzed and relatively very little has changed when it comes to the core problems of humanity. Maybe its because modern people are too lazy to actually utilize the lessons learned from the past, or maybe its because the past doesn't hold all the answers and we are too lazy or short-sighted to look elsewhere. Just some thoughts
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          Aug 22 2012: Well thanks Mitch:>)
          You ask the billion dollar question...why does it continue to repeat itself? Do I think we are missing something? Not focusing? Lazy? Fail to utilize lessons? Short-sighted? Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.....yes.

          I believe we (humans) are not paying attention. We have been gathering information for many years....when will it be time to act/react? I believe we have begun, and I really think TED is a valuable part of that process....people around the world connecting, sharing ideas with the same or similar focus.

          One of my favorite quotes because I believe it to be true:
          "One of the great difficulties in the new order of thought is that we are likely to indulge in too much theory and too little practice".
          "The Science of Mind" - Ernest Holmes

          We have a lot of the information we need to change our world, and now we need to impliment it don't you think? We are not as isolated any more, and when many people get together, sharing the same vision, it is very powerful:>)
        • Aug 22 2012: Mitch, thanks for a great conversation.

          Sometimes we ignore the past out of Hubris. When the USA was considering war with Iraq someone in the government tried to point out to the bigwigs that historically this was not a good idea. His reply was that we are now smarter than history.

          Such folks are hopeless.

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