1 + 1 = Gaddafi will die? Trying to rationalize everything!

I invite you to read this post on Dart Throwing Chimp.  It’s very interesting.  After you have read it, I give you a hint to his inquiry.  Ben Ali thought differently from Gaddafi because people are different.  It’s not that complicated, really.  Beliefs, passions and ideas sometimes overshadow reason and Gaddafi is a perfect example of that.  The author raises good questions, but at the same time, you can’t set a theory which predicts dictators’ behavior.  That is what his writing is leaning towards. 

As much as people are led by self-interest, survival instinct etc., they are also driven by ideas, beliefs, and emotions.  I thought at least academics knew this.

Think of this painting below.  Something more than money led to its creation.  Whether for good (the painting), or bad (Gaddafi’s rule and his decision to fight until death), there’s usually more to it than meets the eye.  Attempting to put all of it in a box is, if I may say, impossible.  It would require either our understanding of reality in its entirety, or limiting our definition of reality so that it fits our box.  It is quite obvious that there are plenty of things out there which we don’t understand in respect to what leads humans to do X and not Y.  So the second option is what we would really do if we came up with a theory to explain Gaddafi’s behavior vs. Ben Ali’s.  In a nutshell, you can predict dictator’s behavior just as much as someone sitting close to Klimt could predict what he was going to paint, with what colors, and why he thought those colors were important…if you get a glimpse of it.

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  • dartthrowingchimp  On October 23, 2011 at 10:50 am

    Thanks for reading and discussing my post. Of course you’re right that human behavior is extremely complex, and things like ideas, beliefs, and emotions shape it. That doesn’t mean human behavior is entirely unpredictable, however, or that making some simplifying assumptions about it can’t lead to useful predictions. If by comparing Gaddafi’s and Ben Ali’s choices we can learn something about how to tell ahead of time what kind of dictator we’re dealing with, we might be able to make better predictions in the future, and in so doing, to craft more effective ways to push them from power sooner.

    • ard  On October 23, 2011 at 5:17 pm

      Thanks for your comment. I enjoy your writings and wholeheartedly share your thoughts in the need to simplify assumptions and find ways to make sense of things better. Just thought it was important to point out this other, more abstract and often unpredictable, side of humanity at the same time.

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