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Seeking better ways for human existence should be our common mission ...

A concise description of the different evolutionary states of human existence can recognize three basic levels of human existence:

  • An uninitiated relatively uninformed physical and emotional state marked by superstition, fantasy, fear and sometimes violence arising from real or imagined threats

  • An intellectual state where people turn their attention to analyzing how mankind and nature works and accumulating knowledge on what is beneficial and prejudicial to mankind's state

  • A spiritual state is where mankind applies accumulated knowledge to improving that state of existence for mankind

The last item which, for some, is a spiritual state of realization of works that contribute to the wellbeing of fellow beings is something which, to some extent, has re-appeared in relation to the appreciation of the contribution of medical workers to the state of safety and health of the nation. But, most of the time, this contribution, when we do not feel any threats to our lives, is taken for granted. It is worth recalling the state of our society when the National Health Services was established. Aneurin Bevan, the Labour Health Minister, stated that this would result in people no longer living in fear. He was referring, of course, to low income families which was a reflection of the widespread poverty in the United Kingdom in 1948 and because at the time people had to pay for medical assistance and many suffered because of lack of disposable income. Then the relationship between poverty and longevity was more pronounced. Aneurin Bevan's observation was a rational one.

Today, Covid-19 has served to bring home to the majority that the government's macroeconomic policies have succeeded in reducing much of the constituency of this country to the economic conditions faced by constituents at the time of the establishment of the NHS.

As a "caring profession" such a service requires a combination of vocational dedication and a technical, professional competence that contributes to the satisfaction or spirituality associated with such dedication arises from success in achieving practical and good outcomes to people's afflictions. The income of practitioners, is of course important, but where the vocational care function excels and is professionally fulfilling, income can become a secondary consideration unless income is so low as to create a depressed standard of living.

The ideal state of affairs is to have a healthy population so that there are less constraints on people's abilities to participate in social and economic affairs. Covid-19 is an extreme example of why it is important to have a healthy population, so that afflicted individuals are managed in such a manner to help them survive while avoiding infecting others. Thus the benefit is clearly a public good of value to all.

Amongst the primary and basic needs of people can be included access to food, water, abode and a livelihood that enable each to pursue their own objectives while not inhibiting the ability of others to pursue theirs. The extent of the freedom of each person is determined by the berth they give to others. Freedom cannot, or should not, be pursued on the basis of climbing over others to advance one's situation at their expense. However, one of the characteristics of humans at the lower state of existence is that insecurity can attain such an intensity that it creates the motivation for self-preservation in the face of threats, at the expense of others. This is an inevitable human condition which no amount of philosophy, religion, or even legal sanctions can alter, and therefore, the mark of a civilized society is to acknowledge that such motivations lie dormant within our society. It is not a mark of civilized society, or at least, rational discourse, to play act and claim that because one is a member of some identifiable group, say a religion or those identified with a specific function or level of presumed social status, that no matter the circumstances, one would never be so base as to take advantage of others under dire circumstances.

This series of articles was initiated because of a reality that we have a government which, rather than be concerned with how our affairs might value and attempt to uphold this fundamental state of mutual consideration through appropriate policy frameworks, is headed by an individual, Boris Johnson, who clearly is not seeking such an end.

The probability of a decision resulting in a desired action being completed successfully depends upon how decision analysis handles the relevant explicit and tacit knowledge that determines the feasibility of the course of action specified as the justification for the decision.

This diagram is a very simple risk model that relates the degree to which explicit and tacit knowledge is encoded into decision analysis models. The different "degrees" determine the deliverability of decisions ranging from complete incapacity, inefficient execution to an almost clockwork delivery.

Coordinate point "a" represents an attempt to base decisions on a decision analysis model that uses poor quality explicit and tacit knowledge. This is likely to turn out to be a waste of money with no results. Probability of a good decision: 0;

An intermediate position at coordinate "b" combines better explicit and tacit knowledge approximating a normal state of affairs and which results in a 30% failure to deliver at all and perhaps 70% securing late delivery, over-run budgets or defective quality. Probability of a good decision: 65%-75%;

Coordinate "c" combines good quality explicit and tacit knowledge that has been correctly encoded by a constant reference to the geographic distribution and access to additional resources. In this situation, the probability of deliver to schedule, within budget and to specification is extremely high. Probability of a good decision: 80%-100%.

He delivered a quite thoughtless speech while Mayor of London in which he considered greed to be an effective motivation for people being successful. He also linked those who are successful to their IQ score. A natural implication here is that successful people with high IQ scores are successful to the extent of their exercise of greedy behaviour. Johnson also made an extraordinarily cynical, if not naive, follow up that rich people, of course, should contribute to help those less fortunate. This rather silly statement parallels David Cameron's "Big Society" notions which have seldom stood up to any test of fact in terms of significance to society. Greedy people tend to simply become conditioned to greed and become increasingly greedy and less concerned with the rest of society. In fact, many people who have accumulated considerable wealth feel threatened by society and tend to live increasingly reclusive lives associated with their own security and conspicuous consumption as a demonstration of the status of their wealth.

We have heard much of late that the government, in its "management" of the Covid-19 crisis is "following" or being "guided" by "the science". This has not turned out to be very impressive and it has exposed disappointing episodes of certain groups pursuing their objectives, very much a the expense of others, both within the country and internationally. Everything that has gone wrong can be traced to miscalculations on gaps and needs followed by unrealistic courses of action. The courses of action arose from belated decisions and the lack of practicality of those decisions in terms of results causing the combination of circumstances with failures in needed provisions raising levels of fear and death rates in those segments least able to protect themselves in the form of the sector responsible for the care of the elderly.

In the discipline of decision analysis, a decision is defined as an irrevocable allocation of resources to a specific course of action. It is also well known that any change in a decision will result in additional resources needing to be spent. Therefore the quality of a decision, "guided by the science" or not, is as good as the degree that the course of action justifying the decision is completed successfully. The diagram on the right shows the principal elements that contribute to decision analysis producing a good decision as defined. These are:
  • the ability to create decision analysis models as cause and effect deterministic relationships - e.g. epidemiological models

  • the ability to specify the information and data required to feed the model in terms of detail and probabilities (explicit knowledge) - e.g. universal track & tracing system

  • the ability to include in the explicit data sub-sets of data that determine the availability of relevant tacit knowledge (tacit knowledge) - e.g. making sure solutions are delivered and work
There appears to be a confusion with government concerning decision analysis models. So far, theory has been an essential characteristics of "following the science" and the failures to deliver on time, including the failure to react early or to secure universal testing and the delays in getting track and tracing up and running across the country. These all point to a lack of adaptive intelligence necessary to get things done on the practical front and to avoid hiding behind exaltations at to what is going to be delivered just around the corner. In a situation of life and death and a need to sustain the economy the government is failing both in action and leadership.

One imagines that decision making is handed to the most competent and intelligent people available; the sort of people who have high IQs. But as things turn out, such a theoretical basis for judging competence of people who have been educated within a system where theory has been prized over one that has included exposure, participation and testing of applied abilities one cannot expect much better. The purpose of these observations is not to blame but rather call attention to the fact that our assessment of the types of intelligence of importance to a sustainable survival is not the type of intelligence that can be evaluated by applying IQ tests.

Besides this Covid-19 saga, the government faces other challenges which they are unlikely to be able to overcome. On the front of economic policy and how to get out of the current depression, the next article in this series will present the evidence that once again governments have demonstrated a failure to apply correct decision analysis over many years creating significant prejudice for the constituents of this country.