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Some Thoughts on Serendipity

by admin | December 1, 2014

One of life’s great paradoxes is that we are ultimately responsible for our decisions and our actions, and yet with the staggering amount of randomness in the – good luck, bad luck, and just plain upredictable occurences – we cannot control the results of our decisions and actions. This is not to say that our choices don’t make a difference; they do. They change the probabilities associated with various outcomes. We may not be able to ensure certainty, but we can and often do influence outcomes.

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A Different Kind of Trifecta

by admin | September 3, 2014

In the July 5th, 2014 issue of The Economist, Buttonwood had an interesting column entitled, “Three’s a Crowd.” It introduced me to the word (if not the concept) of a trilemma.

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A Sense of Purpose​

by admin | August 21, 2014

Why would anyone want to be a coal miner? It’s certainly respectable work, but it’s also dangerous and comes with a high probability of medical problems. I gained a little bit of unexpected insight into this question at the end of a book I recently finished.

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Reframing the Problem

by admin | June 30, 2014

A few years back, I designed a simple spreadsheet tool for an oil & gas client to use in specific circumstances. This circumstance arises when the company is drilling a well and gets something stuck way down in the hole (often several kilometers down).

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A Common(s) Problem

by admin | May 27, 2014

What are the most important problems society will face over the next couple of decades, and how might decision science have to change in order to help people to make good decisions in the face of these problems? I came up with a list of six items, the very first of which was, “How to Make Good Decisions in ‘Tragedy of the Commons’ situations”.

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by admin | April 28, 2014

Our striving for ever-increasing efficiencies through just-in-time supply chain delivery, concentrating manufacturing in the cheapest labor markets, and “optimizing” systems like power grids to maximize efficiency during peak usage times has enormously increased the fragility of many industries and our overall economy. I’m about three-quarters of the way through Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s latest book, Antifragile. This is the third book I’ve read of his, and if you can get around the author’s grumpiness and the book’s somewhat rambling style, Taleb conveys a number of perspectives which border on profound.

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Everything We Know Really IS Wrong (at least in Economics)

by admin | January 12, 2014

It’s been almost three years since I first gave a presentation entitled, “Everything We Know Is Wrong,” and it’s been a bit more than two years since I posted a piece about it in this blog. I now stand vindicated; an article authored by Eric Beinhocker and Nick Hanauer and posted by McKinsey & Co. entitled, “Redefining Capitalism” asserts that nearly all of the assumptions underlying classic economic analysis are wrong ( This article is adapted from “Capitalism Redefined,” which appeared in Democracy: A Journal of Ideas, Issue 31, Winter 2014,

Okay, maybe “vindicated” is too strong a word. But it’s reassuring to read that others are coming to similar conclusions as I have.

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The Smith System as an Allegory for Successful Living

by admin | December 10, 2013

The Smith System as an Allegory for Successful Living Occasionally the team at Decision Strategies comes across an essay or editorial that we think might be of interest to you. We will use this as an opportunity to feature guest bloggers on the Decision Point Blog. The purpose of inviting a guest blogger is to … Continue reading The Smith System as an Allegory for Successful Living

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When do you know enough?

by admin | December 4, 2013

I’ve come out in favor of a tax on carbon in this space before. It hasn’t won me any friends among my oil patch brethren, but you gotta call ‘em the way you see ‘em. I’ve done far more research into the subject of anthropogenic global warming than almost any of my compatriots, and I find the evidence to be compelling.

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Redesigning Capitalism

by admin | December 1, 2013

On January 10th, I watched a thought-provoking webcast from the Yale University School of Forestry and Environmental Science ( It was a panel discussion moderated by Bradford Gentry, a professor at the school, and featuring three experts in the area of sustainable development: Peter Bakker, President of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development; Frances Beinecke, President of the National Resources Defense Council; and Pavan Sukhdev, CEO of GIST Advisory.

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by admin | November 20, 2013

A few weeks ago, there was an excellent op-ed piece in the Houston Chronicle by Victor B. Flatt and Catherine Phillips. The title was “It’s time to focus attention on protecting the environment,” but it wasn’t just an activist’s screed, decrying modern society. Dr. Flatt and Ms. Phillips make a solid, reasoned case for the position that 1) environmental issues have become much more complex – and much more difficult for the layman to perceive – than they were forty years ago, 2) the vast majority of today’s environmental pollutants are associated with highly beneficial industrial activities, and therefore 3) solving these problems is going to involve hard tradeoffs.

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Happy Xmas – War Is (not yet) Over

by admin | November 18, 2013

It’s twelve days before Christmas, and rather than send out a partridge in a pear tree, I figured I’d write a blog entry about finding understanding between people. Maybe I’m tilting at windmills, but ‘tis the season for hope.

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