Image credit. Have a little rest and take pleasure in the little appreciated fact that politics helps us live peaceful and productive lives, even though our ignorance is so vast that instead of holding the same views, we differ widely and passionately in our convictions.
Those impatient with politicians tend to have good grounds for their discontent; however, there are also bad reasons to complain about politics, and we are prone to falling victim to these preconceptions once we lose sight of the full range of difficult functions that politics has evolved to serve.
Ignorance and the symbolic function of politics
When ignorance is a path the rational person should or simply must choose (as trade-offs in a persons's life demand, such as between earning a living and becoming knowledgeable about a political issue), and when ignorance is even insurmountable and constitutive as is the case regarding the unmanageable amount of information on all political issues considered important, we must find, or hope to chance upon special ways to interact that shield us from intolerably divisive or otherwise severely detrimental effects of the vast ignorance that affects all of us.
I begin to believe that politics has a crucial role to play in organising peaceful forms of negotiations, competition, and ritual reassurance that flow together to build
- trust among strangers, and people of significantly differing views,
- a sense of orientation in an extensive society comprised of hundreds of millions of people, and
- the security of a common narrative frame, i.e. a common view of how to make sense of and cope with the world we live in.
This may range from rituals of peaceful condemnation (as between partisan groups) to rituals of peaceful subordination ("okay, this time you guys won the election") or power splitting ("next time we'll prevail" and "the law you intend to issue must pass committees on which we too sit").
Data Mining, Number Crunching, and Our Old Friend Chaos
I find the below article interesting, as it demonstrates just how difficult it is to authenticate offerings of conjectural knowledge so as to shift information from the status of "uncertain credibility" to "credible conjecture" or even "fact" and "truth".
So, in any complex system, such as a football game involving complex aspects such as humans and weather, a significant component is simply not predictable and never will be, no matter how much data we collect. [...]
The unarguable truth is the answer is not always in the data. There is a general tendency at present to believe the data will magically yield the answer if you try hard enough – that is wrong. It is vital that we understand the limitations of analytics as well as their seductive, beautiful, irresistible, elegant and undoubted power.