TCS Daily


The Political Problem of Hindsight Bias

By Arnold Kling - September 25, 2007 12:00 AM

"One of the most systematic errors in human perception is what psychologists call hindsight bias -- the feeling, after an event happens, that we knew all along it was going to happen. Across a wide spectrum of issues, from politics to the vagaries of the stock market, experiments show that once people know something, they readily believe they knew it all along.

"This is not to say that no one predicted the war in Iraq would go badly, or that the insurgency would last so long. Many did. But where people might once have called such scenarios possible, or even likely, many will now be certain that they had known for sure that this was the only possible outcome."
--Shankar Vedantam, Washington Post

Are health insurance companies guilty of denying care or, as Shannon Brownlee's new book argues, are they failing to prevent Overtreatment?

When it comes to surveillance and terrorism, are we not doing enough to prevent the next terrorist attack, or are we collecting too much unnecessary information?

In the mortgage market, are we making it too difficult or too easy for first-time homebuyers to purchase homes?

Would one have expected that the cost of restoring order after an invasion of Afghanistan to be relatively light compared to the cost of restoring order after an invasion of Iraq?

Most people approach these issues with hindsight bias. In situations of uncertainty, hindsight bias causes a number of problems.

First, it sets up a false set of expectations about what government can do. For example, people believe that government can regulate financial markets so that there are never any bubbles or miscalculations, no decent borrower is turned down, and no one ever defaults on a loan.

People fail to recognize trade-offs. For example, Brownlee writes (p. 10),

"in politics, overtreatment is routinely left out of any discussion of health care reform. That's partly because getting rid of it smacks of rationing. But rationing is when you deny patients health care that could potentially help them...Rationing is when you limit the number of MRI machines in order to discourage doctors from ordering an MRI test for a patient. But getting rid of overtreatment, care that's useless and potentially harmful? That isn't rationing; that's improving the quality of medicine."

It's also hindsight bias. We do not know ahead of time whether that "unnecessary" MRI is going to discover a malignant tumor and save a patient's life. Such was the case in an example that I used as an anecdote in my book, Crisis of Abundance, in order to illustrate the dilemmas and trade-offs in modern medicine.

As I write this, my mother-in-law just underwent knee replacement surgery. This could turn out to be "useless and potentially harmful," or it could enable her to use the toilet herself and thereby postpone the day when she needs to be in a nursing home.

There is a great deal in Brownlee's book that is insightful, and I plan to return to it in future essays. But its value is diminished because of pervasive hindsight bias. She writes as if the errors of overtreatment can be avoided at no cost. In fact, there are a number of potential costs. The cost might involve undertreatment for some patients. Or it could involve putting significant resources into medical decision-making.

It is fair to say that the biggest challenge for health care policy is to make the best trade-off among these costs -- the cost of overtreatment, the cost of undertreatment, and the cost of resources used in the decision-making process. Hindsight bias instead makes it appear as if such a trade-off does not exist, and that only ignorance and greed are preventing better outcomes.

Terrorism Surveillance and Hindsight Bias

Recently, the lead story in the Washington Post told about surveillance of travelers. The story appears to be designed to foment protest and alarm over unnecessary and intrusive spying by the government.

My guess is that Congress, using state-of-the-art hindsight, will investigate this program and have it canceled or curtailed, as it has done to other surveillance and data mining efforts. Then, when our intelligence agencies fail to prevent the next terrorist attack, Congress will launch another hindsight-driven commission to probe the reason for failure.

With hindsight bias, our terrorism policy is going to be that of an amateur shower-taker -- alternately scalding ourselves with the failure to prevent attacks or freezing ourselves with abusive collection of data. A better approach would be to focus on the most effective way to collect data and to prevent its abuse, while recognizing that there can be no perfect solution. As outlined in an earlier essay, The Constitution of Surveillance recognizes trade-offs and offers an alternative to hindsight bias for addressing this challenge.

Afghanistan and Iraq

In hindsight, most people made the right decision about Afghanistan and Iraq. That is, in hindsight, most people are in favor of invading the former and against invading the latter.

However, go back to 2001. Which country is going to pose more long-term problems for an invader -- Afghanistan or Iraq? Afghanistan, with its mountainous territory and history of rebellion against the Soviets, probably would have been viewed by many experts as posing the greatest difficulty. At the time of the invasion, many feared that it would prove disastrous, and in fact in October of 2001 the New York Times pronounced it a quagmire.

In fact, the unexpectedly low cost of invading Afghanistan may have been one of the reasons for the unexpectedly high cost of invading Iraq. The Bush Administration probably based its expectations of the latter on the outcome of the former.

For now, it is not clear what is the best strategy in Iraq. Some argue that the larger the role that Americans take in the war, the less incentive for the Iraqi government to address difficult issues. Others argue that without a major American presence, security will deteriorate and the country will sink into sectarian violence. Years from now, we may know the answer to these and other questions. And with hindsight bias, we will wonder how those who were on the wrong side of the issue could have been so blind. Meanwhile, real decisions have to be made with imperfect information.

Cognitive Blind Spot

Humans have a cognitive blind spot when it comes to making decisions under uncertainty. Steven Pinker's wonderful new book, The Stuff of Thought, discusses the theory that humans are hard-wired to see the world in terms of substance, space, time, and cause-effect. We are not hard-wired to think in terms of statistics. Pinker writes (p. 85-86)

"When the mind locates one object with respect to another, it is apt to compress the first one into a pinpoint or blob whose shape and parts are no longer discernible, like a thing in a box...I suspect this is one of the reasons people have so much trouble understanding statistical comparisons...[For example] the distributions of talents and temperaments for men and women are not identical...Yet when people hear about this research, they tend [to] mangle it into the claim that every last man is better than every last woman (or vice-versa)...It's as if people heard the statistic that women outlive men on average and concluded that every woman outlives every man."

Concerning hindsight bias, this story describes the work of three psychologists who argue that it is a necessary byproduct of the way that we learn.

"any feedback or correct information a person receives after he has given his initial judgment automatically updates the knowledge base underlying the initial judgment. If a person cannot remember this initial judgment, he will reconstruct it from what he currently knows about the situation. And what he currently knows is the updated version of what he used to know. So while feedback does not directly affect a person's memory for the original response, it indirectly affects the memory by updating the knowledge used to reconstruct the response. Rather than thinking of hindsight bias as a flaw of human cognition, as previous research suggests, Hoffrage, et al. argue that it's a by-product of an adaptive mechanism - one that makes human memory more efficient."

Suppose that I have faced a decision between driving and taking an airplane, and the airplane turned out to be the better choice. What the authors are suggesting is that it is easier for me to remember "I knew that I should have taken the plane" than to remember all of the data and probability calculations that I was making ahead of time.

Economizing on memory may be useful more often than not. Next time I am near a hot stove, it is better for me to make a quick and automatic decision to keep my hand away rather than make calculations of the probability of getting burned based on how far my finger is from the heating element.

However, for complex issues involving uncertainty, hindsight bias is very deceptive. We think that we can stop terrorist attacks without collecting any unnecessary information. We think that we can get a "free lunch" in health care by simply willing doctors to make better decisions about when to use expensive procedures. And we think that the President makes poor decisions about foreign policy, because we always remember ourselves as agreeing with the choices that worked well and disagreeing with those that proved disappointing.

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54 Comments

Post WWII
Fortunately someone learned from the mistakes of WWI and the USA helped Germany and Japan become what they are today.

A strong sense of moral values (right and wrong, good or evil) will always aid in making correct decisions.

Except today moral values are relative
In the past the foundation of morality in the US was principally passed on to each generation and, like it or not, founded in Christian teachings. It served us well.

Today morality is determined by pop culture, the MSM and the freak festival of lunatics running the asylum (which means there is none).

Sure, the are still millions who follow traditional morality but there are legions who think morality is what feels right. Who are we to determine their value system?

How do we as a nation mold nations when our own house is a mess?

Why the socialists must attack Christianity
Christ commanded his followers to help each other, especially the weak, physically and spiritually, and the poor.

Christ commanded his individual followers, not the governments they might form.

If we as individuals take care of each other, the need for the state to do lessens, weakeing the state. Therefore, those that support a stronger state must attack Christianity just as the King Herod's state had to attack Christ himself.

Great Article
Arnold you often get me to look at things from a different direction. I really like that about your work.

Arnold have you talked to get any life insurance companies about your idea for health Insurance?
"But its value is diminished because of pervasive hindsight bias. She writes as if the errors of overtreatment can be avoided at no cost. In fact, there are a number of potential costs. The cost might involve undertreatment for some patients. Or it could involve putting significant resources into medical decision-making."

I really think the problem is that it does not benefit me sufficiently to decline healthcare. Arnold have you talked to get any life insurance companies about your idea for health insurance where the policy pays out on diagnosis. IMO most of us would accept more risk of undertreatment if it enabled us to get a cheaper policy. I could see men getting a cheapo (lets call it do not resuscitate, exclude cancer etc.) policy for themselves and a more generous policy for their wives and children.

Afghanistan v. Iraq
The big issue was not which country presented a greater problem post-war. With Afghanistan there wasn't an option: the government there had shelted and supported the people responsible for 9/11. With Iraq, there was no need at all to invade: No evidence of involvement in 9/11; and, following UN inspections , no eviidence of continuing WMD activity. Yes, the followup to the invasion was a mess but that's not the hindsight issue. That issue is, did we have to, and the answer is an obvious, unavoidable no.

Another health care example
Here's an example that gets conservatives & libertarians every time:

Anyone who has studied health insurance is familiar with the concept called "moral hazard". Health insurance is about pooling risk, and a fundamental building block of a risk pool is the ability to keep "free riders" who haven't paid the premiums from getting the benefits of the risk pool. Consider the people who choose not to sign up for the health insurance, and then they get sick, and then the government and/or their friends and family pays for their health care. The moral hazard is what happens when rational people look around and say, "Hey, premiums are for chumps. I can get my health care paid for even if I don't pay any premiums. I'd rather have a nicer car/house/etc. with the money."

This moral hazard is most available to the healthier-than-average. We see the young, fit uninsured person who gets cancer or has a stroke and think that this is like being hit by lightening, and so we have sympathy and drop in our donation, the way we wouldn't have sympathy for the fat smoker or diabetic who "should have known" that he needed health insurance. Classic hindsight bias -- when there is a one-in-a-million chance of something, it is only in hindsight that we know who is the one and who are the 999,999.

But here is the part that is hardest to get the hindsight biased to appreciate: in the case of the one-in-a-million chance of something, where you have a million people who don't pay the premium because "premiums are for chumps", then it's not just the one who did have the something happen to him who is a free rider, but the other 999,999 who didn't have the something happen are also just as much free riders.

With insurance, what you are buying at the point of sale is a contingent payoff where the contingency is risky. At the point that you write the premium check, the fair value of what you are buying is the sum of the probability of each claim multiplied by the amount of each claim, plus some administrative overhead. If you choose not to pay insurance premiums, and then you don't have any events that would have triggered claims, then you are still a free-loader who has expropriated from the commons an amount equal to the premium that you should have paid given the amount of charity care that the commons would have provided and the probability of the event happening.

Whoops, Lem! (Wrong Cognitive Blindspot)
I think that you're exhibiting a different systematic cognitive error, and you've accidentally confused it with Hindsight Bias in your response. Your post is an example of Cognitive Dissonance Reduction.

It's an easy mistake to make. I'll explain.

Hindsight Bias is when you adjust your beliefs so that they square with data in a new context. Cognitive Dissonance Reduction is when you adjust your context so that you won't have to change your beliefs in the face of new data.

Don't get me wrong. I think you're expert at both, but when it comes to Iraq and the War on Terror you tend to favor CDR. This post is a classic example.

Keep 'em comin', Lem. And, Cheers! ;-)

RE: Why the socialists must attack Christianity
Well, that and "Thout shall not steal", "Thout shall not murder" and "Thout shall not covet" all preclude socialism from the get-go.

I guess you call yourself QuickJason because you never stop to think
What are you talking about??

>Hindsight Bias is when you adjust your beliefs so that they square with data in a new context. Cognitive Dissonance Reduction is when you adjust your context so that you won't have to change your beliefs in the face of new data.

What "new data" are you talking about?? The fact is and was that Iraq was not a threat. That fact was or should have been obvious at the time, except the information supporting it was systematically ignored or denied by Cheney and Bush. Regarding Hindsight Bias - Cheney's 1994 remarks on why the US didn't continue to Baghdad are an excellent example of why criticism of the decisions made are not groundless second guessing. Everyone knew what they needed to know to make a good decision, but made a bad one instead.

Nopey nope
You're trying to make a very clever (actually, it's really not so clever) argument for socialized medicine and "universal coverage".

You really don't need to do that because, in the United States, the problem is that (mostly) we do not have health insurance; we instead have socialized medicine already. And it's even more disastrous than honestly socialized medicine because we still try to maintain the illusion that we don't have socialized medicine when we do.

There is no such thing as a moral hazard in a free market system--at least, not of the kind you describe in your distortions, which demonstrate a total lack of understanding of the true economic definition of Moral Hazard (which has to do with voluntarily entered into binding contracts and potential fraud, not one's being forced into buy something that you think they should be coerced into having).

A person who decides that he doesn't want to pay for health insurance and will take the risk that somebody else will pay his medical bills for him is no more a free rider than someone who decides he doesn't want to pay for a pizza but gets his buddies to let him have some of theirs. If he gets some pizza, then they chose to give him some of their pizza. He can't force them to, because one of the two legitimate objectives of government is to protect people from physical violence done against them by other people. He can pitch a ***** if they won't share, but they can throw him out of their house or walk away from him or break off the friendship or...

So, you are making the assumption that friends and family would pay for someone who didn't have health insurance, and that this is somehow a "moral hazard". No, sorry Lefty, it's simply an assumption--and, it's an immoral assumption. His friends and family have no legal obligation at all in a free market (and libertarian) system to take care of him. You will argue that they will feel emotionally compelled to do so; well, let's see, in a free market system and a system of authentic health insurance instead of the debased socialized medicine that we have now, health insurance premiums would be affordable to him and consequently his friends and family would very likely pressure him to buy some or run the risk of falling from their good graces, precisely because a) they want him to be okay and b) they won't be very thrilled about paying for him to be okay when he coulda shoulda woulda done that himself.

In addition, when all those idiots you assume exist (because you hang around too many Leftists) choose not to buy health insurance and as a result premiums start rising, they are going to receive a hell of a lot of social pressure to start buying.

And, most of them would. Know why, Lefty? Because it would be both the right thing and the good thing to do, that's why. Do people buy Christmas gifts for each other because they're forced to (in a legal sense)? Um, no.

As for the rest of them who are as immoral as you assume everyone would automatically be: it would only take a few examples of families and friends who said, "too bad, so sad" and forced them to appeal to charity or who said to them, "we'll pay this one time, but after this is over you buy coverage or you're outta here" for the word to get around that they better shut up and buy up.

But, Leftists are notoriously ****-poor at understanding the human psyche.

Jason, you made a brilliant discovery!
You finally discovered (to our relief) the not one but TWO THINGS that Bonehead is good at!

Coveting
Especially Thou Shall Not Covet.

Good point and I like the Cheney example
The new data that I was referring to was that we have met Al Qaeda in Iraq. The same terrorist institution that attacked us on 9/11 is now in Iraq fighting our soldiers.

My post was based on the observation that if --in your words-- the "people responsible for 9/11" made Afghanistan acceptable then, it would follow that the "people responsible for 9/11" today would make Iraq acceptable now.

As to Cheney, I think that your example is useful because it illustrates Arnold's view that decisions are trade-offs between potential costs and potential benefits. In 1994, Cheney surmised that the potential costs were too high to justify the potential benefits. After 9/11, the balance shifted heavily in favor of action.

In order to conclude that this shift had nothing to do with 9/11, you would probably need to believe that 9/11 did not demonstrate our vulnerability to enemies beyond our shores. Since the attack was a physical event witnessed by millions on television, the only way you could think THAT, would be through some awfully impressive cognitive dissonance reduction.

Now we're in any excuse will do country
I mean, this is just bizarre:

>The new data that I was referring to was that we have met Al Qaeda in Iraq. The same terrorist institution that attacked us on 9/11 is now in Iraq fighting our soldiers.
Except the only reason Al Qaeda is in Iraq is because we invaded Iraq. They were not in Iraq before we invaded.

>My post was based on the observation that if --in your words-- the "people responsible for 9/11" made Afghanistan acceptable then, it would follow that the "people responsible for 9/11" today would make Iraq acceptable now.
By this logic we should be invading Pakistan, because that is where not just Al Qaeda followers but the actual peole responsible for 9/11 are.

>s to Cheney, I think that your example is useful because it illustrates Arnold's view that decisions are trade-offs between potential costs and potential benefits. In 1994, Cheney surmised that the potential costs were too high to justify the potential benefits. After 9/11, the balance shifted heavily in favor of action.
Why??? Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. Our forces were committed in Afghanistan. Diverting them to Iraq solved none of the problems in Afghanistan and created new threats. No one can say the invasion made ups more safe.

>In order to conclude that this shift had nothing to do with 9/11, you would probably need to believe that 9/11 did not demonstrate our vulnerability to enemies beyond our shores.
By this logic we should invade everywhere beyond our shores. You are really in, no other word for it, any excuse will do country.

Lefty? Just who are you replying to?
I'm not sure who you are replying to -- I suppose anyone who is too stupid to understand the concept of the Tragedy of the Commons could easily be too stupid to operate comment-posting software, so perhaps you weren't responding to me.

The totalitarian solution to the market failure represented by the moral hazard problem is not socialized medicine. It is to strictly outlaw and punish severely anyone who provides charity care for the uninsured/underinsured. All those ERs who treat first and ask questions later -- put a stop to that. Doctors who treat uninsured people without charge, giving them free samples of prescriptions -- throw them in jail. Grandpa pays a hospital bill for the 20-something granddaughter who decided that she didn't need health insurance and now has fibroid tumors and is in agony -- assess a stiff fine.

Whenever somebody pays for health care services for someone else without that person having to pay premiums into the risk pool, the person who pays has stolen the premium money from the risk pool. Theft is immoral. In fact, back when I was a dues-paying member of the Libertarian Party, I had to sign a pledge about the immorality of taking others' property by force or fraud. People who don't pay insurance premiums, but who wouldn't be left to die, are taking those premiums by fraud.

Jason's party right
Lem could just be sadly (shall I say "Rather"?) misinformed


> the only reason Al Qaeda is in Iraq is because we
> invaded Iraq. They were not in Iraq before we
> invaded.


(Misinformed) Zarqawi was there in early 2002, soon after joining Ansar Al-Islam, from thence linking up with OBL/AQ etc. (sources: HRW, CSM, WSJ...)


Abdhul Yaseem Rashid was there, too. He helped attack the WTC in 1993.


> By this logic we should be invading Pakistan


Um, OK, this is CDR since it follows no logical path.
Pakistan is helping fight the terrorists (some days more than others), just as is the Saudi gov't. Who invades friendly countries? What an Obama-notion!


> Our forces were committed in Afghanistan. Diverting
> them to Iraq solved none of the problems in
> Afghanistan

(again, misinformed) The Taleban/terrorists left in Afghanistan can barely manage a decent ambush these days because the A-team was sent to Iraq.

"If you don't read the newspaper, you're uninformed. If you do, you're misinformed." -- Mark Twain

misinformation and non-information
why?

>(Misinformed) Zarqawi was there in early 2002, soon after joining Ansar Al-Islam, from thence linking up with OBL/AQ etc. (sources: HRW, CSM, WSJ...)
He was in a part of Iraq not controlled by Saddam Hussein, because of the no-fly zone.

>m, OK, this is CDR since it follows no logical path.
Pakistan is helping fight the terrorists (some days more than others), just as is the Saudi gov't. Who invades friendly countries? What an Obama-notion!
Helping how??? How by this definitjion was Saddam not hleping.

>> Our forces were committed in Afghanistan. Diverting
>> them to Iraq solved none of the problems in
> >Afghanistan

>(again, misinformed) The Taleban/terrorists left in Afghanistan can barely manage a decent ambush these days because the A-team was sent to Iraq.
You don't seem to be keeping up the news. They are back and carrhying out many "decent ambushes" and much more. And they keep going across the border to kill people. And the Pakistanis do nothing. And we can't do anything because doing something would anger the Pakistanis. Try agin.

Moral relativism
Moral values are by definition relative. As you said, if it feels right, it is right. Problem is, nowadays the folks have politicized their moral values to get them passed into law, such that whatever one has a legal right to do is right to do, and all objections to the contrary are inherently wrong, moralistic, theocratic/anti-democratic, etc.

This is the obvious and inevitable logical conclusion of exchanging universal moral principles for subjective moral values, which is why I take some exception to the present article. Complex systems like people or economies can do predictable things if one understands their mechanics.

My turn
There are plenty more cognitive errors associated with space, time and physical causality. These work to comprise the pitifully illogical warrants (assumptions) underlying le Mule's statements, such as:

"He was in a part of Iraq not controlled by Saddam Hussein, because of the no-fly zone."

The lack of physical proximity does not prevent control or influence. Physical proximity is not a necessary prerequisite for control or influence.

"You don't seem to be keeping up the news. They are back and carrhying out many "decent ambushes" and much more. And they keep going across the border to kill people. And the Pakistanis do nothing. And we can't do anything because doing something would anger the Pakistanis. Try agin."

If it's not in the news, it either doesn't exist or didn't happen. This nonsense is typical of a TV-deranged person.

True control is total control, and all governments are capable of achieving total control. Therefore, those governments that can't achieve total control are not true governments.


hunh?
You seem to be making up not just your own facts, but your own physics.

>The lack of physical proximity does not prevent control or influence. Physical proximity is not a necessary prerequisite for control or influence.
In this case, why not pull out troops out of Iraq altogether, and control it by what, mystic force?? The fact is, Iraq did not control the area in question. The Kurds did. We could have asked them to do something. Or we could have bombed the pace. Blaming Saddam makes not sense at all.

>f it's not in the news, it either doesn't exist or didn't happen. This nonsense is typical of a TV-deranged person.
This is incoherent. Ambushes are in the news - do you think the news is making them up? What's your point?

>True control is total control, and all governments are capable of achieving total control. Therefore, those governments that can't achieve total control are not true governments.
So the idea is we should not recognize the Pakistani government?? Invade Pakistan? What's your point here???
.

eric really does believe his lies
Nobody ever claimed that Iraq was involved in 9/11. Not one single person.

They have claimed, and they have proven, that Saddam supported terrorists.

They also claimed, and they have proven that Saddam had both WMD and WMD programs.

what do you call it
when you adjust the data to fit your beliefs.

Eric is really good at that.

you're done troll
you don't know what "data" is.

I suspect Bush Sr wanted Saddam gone...
The Bush family is in the oil business so something that Saddam Hussein was doing as leader of Iraq was thwarting their objectives. They'd been looking for an excuse to get rid of him before 9/11 happened. The attack on the World Trade Centers just gave them the excuse they were looking for to do it.

you're still done, troll
blather, blather, blather

>Nobody ever claimed that Iraq was involved in 9/11. Not one single perso

TULSA -- Sen. Jim Inhofe says evidence exists linking deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

The Oklahoma Republican said Wednesday that he plans a speech on the Senate floor next week to outline the connection despite the Bush administration's position that no such link exists.

Inhofe says the president looked a "little insecure" and "beaten up" during his televised news conference Tuesday night that came after an increase in violence and insurgency in occupied Iraq.

"The biggest mistake the administration made is (the president) let (Sen.) Ted Kennedy and others sucker him into dropping the ball on the connection between Saddam Hussein and 9/11," the Oklahoma Republican told the Tulsa World's Washington bureau.

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1121095/posts

>They also claimed, and they have proven that Saddam had both WMD and WMD programs.
Had WMDs and programs in 1990. Had neither in 2003, exhaustive investigation has established.

data is what you never give
...

OK, you found one, but he had no connection to the administration
What exhaustive investigations?

Saddam would not permit them access. That's why they left the country.

paranoia on parade
Bush Jr. was in the oil business for a short time.

And just how has any oil company benefited from the absence of Saddam?

Or are you just so convinced that the Bush's in general are evil, that you assume that they must have a bad motive, even if you can't figure out what it is.

Or make healthcare insurance illegal...
They should have people paying out of pocket for their own health care. For the same cost as insurance companies would charge me in premiums I could afford way more doctor visits than I'd end up using. Why should I have to buy health insurance? Why should anybody else have to buy any? Stay away from the hospitals unless it's an emergency and you'll save money by NOT paying premiums. Use that money in a savings account for medical care if you need to have money for health care. Why make the insurance industry any richer? As a Libertarian, that doesn't make good sense to me. Get insurance out of the medical industry & maybe the costs for care will come down to a more realistic level.

HealthcareterrorismrelativismstockmartketanythingIleftout?!
A confused, talented, and incoherent ramble from the author, as always... devoid of any thought-out sensibility for individual liberty and without a determinable moral guideline, no matter how much touting one.

Whether it's a good motive or a bad motive,
It's still a motive. What else other than oil is in that part of the world worth fighting over? NOTHING (other than oil)... It's a hot, sandy desert over there! Without oil under that sand, what possible motive would they have had? What motive do you think they would have to invade Iraq? Especially what better motive than oil would they have had for leaving troops in Iraq after Saddam was executed? What I think of Bush is irrelevant to what his motivations for keeping troops in Iraq would be.

Experience informs prediction...
Robert,

Two points well made.

You said: "...whatever one has a legal right to do is right to do".

Sometimes we feel compelled to do something self-serving and venal simply because we are allowed to, under the law.

Conversely, whenever there is a law prohibiting something...then it must be wrong. We fall back on the law as it stands to generate specific moral judgements regarding (generally speaking) the behavior of other people.

Of course, we tend to characterize our own such transgressions as "forgivable sins"...because in our over-regulated societies we are continually "breaking the law".

Nevertheless, poorly composed legislation or poorly performing (unenforceable) laws are revised too slowly and tend to be exploited to serve questionable agendas.

You said: "Complex systems like people or economies can do predictable things if one understands their mechanics."

Well, such complex (multiple-variable) structures will behave in a "predictable" manner...in that certain people should be able to see it coming...it is just that raw human intuition itself might project what "should happen" poorly.

And this is the point of the article. Wisdom developed out of immersion in any such process informs our judgement based on logical cause-effect implications (structures and routines) that we create over time. This, in spite of the fact that calculus, statistics and algorithms are required to actually model many such phenomena. Inexperienced people cannot perceive those relationships because many times they are profoundly counter-intuitive. Calculation is hopeless because we are unable to do the math in our heads and (even on paper) algorithms cannot be solved to completion.

In fact really smart people seem quite inclined to fall back on their underlying, intuitive logic and sophomoric understanding regarding how the world operates to reject such experience as anomolous...they refuse to "update" their own paradigms...especially regarding areas of work outside their own.

Stop lying, troll
The country was awash ith administration-orchestrated hints that Saddam was somehow linked to 9/11, before and after the 2003 invasion. The result was, when Americans were polled in September 2003, 70 percent believed that Saddam was linked to 9/11
http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2003-09-06-poll-iraq_x.htm

>What exhaustive investigations? Saddam would not permit them access. That's why they left the country.

This is a straight-up lie. The head of the U.N. inspectors, Hans Blix, reported to the U.N. that he _was_ receiving access and cooperation., He left the country only because the US announced we were going to bomb and invade.

Your done, troll
You think this " ... " is an argument???

No WMDs so what

Here is the joint resolution passed by overwhelming
support from both parties......both parties!!!
http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c107:S.J.RES.45:
http://usgovinfo.about.com/library/weekly/bliraqreshouse.htm
There were many grievances listed but each one alone was reason enough to go to war.

Okay one or two grievances turn out not to be true.
What about the other twenty or so grievances?
Firing on our war planes in the no fly zone is reason enough to get your arse kicked!
What more reason was needed?
How about the attempted assassination of a president?
I suppose all the Democrats have just forgotten about these little infractions.

What kind on moron would now say that Saddam was not at the very least bluffing on WMDs?
I think that his WMDs went to Syria.
You think he never had them.
So freaking what either way?
It is abundently clear Saddam wanted everyone to think he did have them or he could have let the inspectors prove other wise to a candid world.
I think it is perfectly reasonable that if you bluff the president United States with WMDs you should be prepared to have your bluff called by 200,000 marines knocking on your door.
Why would the leader of the most powerful nation on earth sit back and wait to see if you really do have WMDs to hand over to terrorists?
Would not prudence dictate that he err on the side of caution and prevent a holocaust on American soil?
If Buah had I can guarentee after an attack Democrats would be pointing their fingers and saying we told you to do something and Bush should have known.
The truth is you will only support fighting terroists if it looks politically convenient and easy, as soon as the going gets tough you switch sides for political advantage.

How could it be more clear that Democrats have switched sides?.


Hey, you can always find a pretect to go to war
That doesn't automatically make make going to war a good idea.

>Why would the leader of the most powerful nation on earth sit back and wait to see if you really do have WMDs to hand over to terrorists?
Because the U.N. was in Iraq investigating and finding out he did not have WMDs to hand over to terrorists.

>Would not prudence dictate that he err on the side of caution and prevent a holocaust on American soil?
Because in Febrary, a month before the invasion, inspections of Iraqi atomic plants had proven - proven - that there wasn't a nuclear program.

>The truth is you will only support fighting terroists if it looks politically convenient and easy, as soon as the going gets tough you switch sides for political advantage.
Invading Iraq had nothing whatsoever to do with "fighting terrorists." It was invading a country that had nothing to do with 9/11. You're just stringing together scare words and not looking at the facs.

Wow
Thinking's not your game - that's been clear for some time, le Mule. Grunting and braying is, which is why you are aptly named.

"In this case, why not pull out troops out of Iraq altogether, and control it by what, mystic force?? The fact is, Iraq did not control the area in question. The Kurds did. We could have asked them to do something. Or we could have bombed the pace. Blaming Saddam makes not sense at all."

That physical proximity does not prevent control or influence does not mean that it is not conducive to control or influence. It's a simple distinction, sure, but those are the kind you're least able handle even though you're a simpleton. Besides, if your best argument for getting out of Iraq that our troops can't control it, and if there's no control from afar, then aren't you in favor of consigning Iraq to bloody chaos to achieve ... well, what, exactly; justice? For whom? Moreover, if the Kurds controlled Kurdistan and would have been responsive to American demands from afar, why were there terrorists in Kurdistan who bore the Kurds no good will and who still murder them to this day, even though they're supposedly now in full control of Kurdistan? The world only seems like shades of gray to a lefty because lefties are so inescapably ensconced in the fog of their own illogic.

"This is incoherent. Ambushes are in the news - do you think the news is making them up? What's your point?"

You missed the point because you fail to consider what's not in the news, which was the point. That's why you counter coherence with incoherence. Better not pull your head out, le Mule; reality rarely complies with the narrative you seem to prefer.

S"o the idea is we should not recognize the Pakistani government?? Invade Pakistan? What's your point here???"

Wisdom is understanding the limits of knowing or doing. Only the unwise, i.e. fools, believe that governments can achieve total control over their own jurisdiction, much less others. (By the way, this is why there is no more foolish a political ideology than progressivism/socialism/liberalism, which conduce so readily to absolutism). Hence, the fact that Pakistan's government can't control some regions of Pakistan does not mean that Pakistan's government is doing nothing worth doing or not worth doing in both the regions it partially controls and the regions it doesn't.

When you think, reduce from general to specific and not vice versa - that really narrows down the nonsense.

you still aren't making sense
The question was, should we have invaded Iraq on kicked out Saddam Hussein. You've offered as a reason the fact that a guy we didn't like had set up in a part of Iraq we were keeping Saddam Hussein out of. When chllenged you go off into a blither of rhetoric that has nothing to do with the circumstances.

>You missed the point because you fail to consider what's not in the news, which was the point.
What, specifically isn't or wasn't in the news?? You don't offer a clue, but you're sure this mystic something outweighs anything and everything reported. No it does not.

>Hence, the fact that Pakistan's government can't control some regions of Pakistan does not mean that Pakistan's government is doing nothing worth doing or not worth doing in both the regions it partially controls and the regions it doesn't.
They're in effect protecting Osama Bin Laden. Why not fit that into your big picture and sit on itl.

>When you think, reduce from general to specific and not vice versa - that really narrows down the nonsense.
You should really try it some time. Right now, you're very heavy on the nonsense.

Experience Informs Prediction...?
My Sierra Club friends see the continuing traffic congestion problems as proof that building added lanes only causes more traffic. This begs the question of how did we ever blunder into the public policy of building the Interstate in the first place. For those living and driving in the post Interstate construction era, the Interstate eliminated congestion,at least for a few decades, in a very profound way.
When the Interstate was built, the engineering view was that there were too many vehicles on too few lanes and that new efficient arrangements of lanes could be built and paid for mostly out of the productivity increases brought on by the construction. Even though we are at the same point in history again, it is perfectly acceptable to believe that the act of building the Interstate caused the congestion. Most if not all highway departments build only a fraction of lane miles every year to make up for the new drivers on the road. In Tennessee anyway, the rate of lane mile construction causes the numbers of lane miles to double every 128.4 years while the population is doubling over the same period(2000 to 2005) every 80.0 years. The fact that population, the number of vehicles and the distance driven by each person has increased but not allowed to become part of the input stream of facts used in fixing the problem.
Furthermore, traffic in Europe is also increasing at an alarming rate even though they have much more expensive gasoline and a fairly good passenger train system. My Sierra Club friends, bless their hearts, think that we will have a different congestion outcome than Europe after we copy their system. Why do they deny that the European experience applies?

That's "you're done, troll"
at least try to get it right for once.

more paranoia on parade
So everybody who was in favor of taking out Saddam was secretly under the control of the White House?

Maybe that explains the supply of aluminum foil hats in your closet.

The people who worked for Hans Blix reported that they were being prevented from doing any inspections on a timely basis.

As to the UN, "Oil for Food". The UN was bought and paid for, as were it's conclusions.

If that's how you want to play it, I can proclaim that you are lying because it advances your politi
you posit the worst possible motives for those who disagree with you, then don't bother to provide even the tiniest shred of evidence to support your position.

What other motives might they have had?
Why not examine the war declaration. It listed 23 reasons. None of which had anything to do with oil.

But you don't need to worry about reality, you have your comfortable fantasies to make you feel warm and cozy.

Stop building roads and congestion will end.
If building more roads caused more congestion, building fewer roads will end congestion.

Think out of the box. Look up. The technology to implement 'sky ways' exist. Why not do it?

There are also more mundane methods that could be used. Ferrys are used to transport autos and passengers, why not trains?

Make believe history, troll
The White House controlled the information and suppressed or ignored information that didn't support its conclusion. The head of British intelligence said so in so many word.

>The people who worked for Hans Blix reported that they were being prevented from doing any inspections on a timely basis.
At the beginning there were problems. The problems were solved. Blix told the security council in February that he was getting the cooperation he needed. Read his speech.

>As to the UN, "Oil for Food". The UN was bought and paid for, as were it's conclusions
Then why did the Security Council vote to order the inspections??

Glad you realize that you are done, troll
and have gotten used to it.

You are not looking at the facts not all the WMDs Saddam had were nuclear
The WMDs Saddam used were gas not nuclear.
The inspectors were also looking for other types of WMDs.
The invasion had everything to do with not waiting till Saddam could hand a WMD of any kind over to a surrogate.
The fact is Saddam went to great length to make everyone think he had WMDs.
An assination atempt on a former president is proof he would use them against the US either directly of through a terrorist surrogate.
If anyone shows this kind of behavior then indeed this is a very good reason to go to war...well, unless you are stupid naive or both.

Imagine a Republican arguing a generation ago that an assassination attempt on FDR by the leader of Iraq should not be considered an act of war.
He rightly would have been labeled a traitor and a coward.
and I say if the shoe fits.

Here is fact for you look at.
Look who approved the use of force in Iraq.
Read the signers names.
The fact is only a couple of extreme Democrat loonies did not authorize the use of force in Iraq.

The Democrats in this country were all for the invasion when it looked easy and was poplular.
When it became difficult the Democrats took the other side soley for political gain.
The damage to the country and the loss in the war with Islamic nut jobs does not matter to them because the end justfies the means for them.
That you find the facts just scarey words is no surprise.

A pleasure
You're a pleasure to chat with, forest. I doubt you could say the same of me, and I accord myself no satisfaction or pride from this.

Maybe I can lay out my approach to show you that although my thought is informed by the law and the strictures of legal reasoning, it isn't confined to such.

I start from the observation that every voluntary action is the product of choice. Next, I say that choices are the product of immediate perceptions, past perceptions which have become rules, some set of value assessments operating according to the formula "utility to purpose" weighing offsetting expected costs against benefits real and imagined, and finally moral beliefs - if any.

This is a complex and volatile mix prone to error and unpredictability for its sheer subjectivity, individual man to individual man. But throughout this mess one finds objective components operating to provide the basis of a common understanding of the human condition that penetrates every cultural, social, economic or political barrier men conspire to erect against it. What other foundation for the virtue of compassion can there be?

Sorry, you're misinformed
This is a catalog of false or partial or irrelevant information.

>The WMDs Saddam used were gas not nuclear.
And when he used them, we were guiding his strikes. And yes, inspectors were not able to eliminate the possibility he still had chemical weapons when they were forced to stop inspeactions because the US invaded. But in fact, we now no he no longer had a chemical weaoons program in 1993

>The inspectors were also looking for other types of WMDs.
and not fnding them.

>The invasion had everything to do with not waiting till Saddam could hand a WMD of any kind over to a surrogate.
What "surrogate?" Who could he trust?

>The fact is Saddam went to great length to make everyone think he had WMDs.
But he didn't, and the inspectors would have found that out, except we wouldn't let them.

>An assination atempt on a former president is proof he would use them against the US either directly of through a terrorist surrogate.
Bush I had an opportunity to get rid of Saddam. He didn't. Here's Cheney explaining why. Why weren't these arguments still valid?
http://www.crooksandliars.com/2007/09/27/my-god-****-cheney-was-right/

>If anyone shows this kind of behavior then indeed this is a very good reason to go to war...well, unless you are stupid naive or both.
You can always find some reason or other to go to war - against N. Korea, Iran, Libya, you name the country. That doesn't make going to war a good idea.

>magine a Republican arguing a generation ago that an assassination attempt on FDR by the leader of Iraq should not be considered an act of war.
He rightly would have been labeled a traitor and a coward.
and I say if the shoe fits.
Ten years later?? Why suddenly 10 years later? And the botched attempt wasn't even brought up seriously as a reason for war at the time.

>Here is fact for you look at.
Look who approved the use of force in Iraq.
Read the signers names.
The fact is only a couple of extreme Democrat loonies did not authorize the use of force in Iraq.

The document authorized the use of force if the President said there was no other way of proceeding. It didn't say "invade, no matter what." What the majority was doing was trying not to tie the President's hands. With the President, it was a mistake.

>The Democrats in this country were all for the invasion when it looked easy and was poplular.
When it became difficult the Democrats took the other side soley for political gain.
The damage to the country and the loss in the war with Islamic nut jobs does not matter to them because the end justfies the means for them.

Sure. Now it's all the Democrats fault that the whole thing went sour and we were all lied to about the reasons for invading and how difficult it would be.

>That you find the facts just scarey words is no surprise.
The facts aren't scary. The lies that the White House told are.

you're even more full of it than usual, troll
The false premises behind the invasion have been abundantly documented. Why were we lied to? People have different theories. The fact remains, we were lied to.

>But you don't need to worry about reality, you have your comfortable fantasies to make you feel warm and cozy.
The reality is we were lied to. But you don't know what a lie is, so it doesn't matter to you.

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