The Science of Ignorance

Strategy was developed to consistently make the best of situations that cannot be controlled and are very incompletely understood. The "fog of war" is a necessary condition of all competitive situations. In a competitive situation, no one reveals their plans and everyone's plans collide creating conditions no one can plan. Many find this concept difficult to understand because more and more of us are living under the increasing illusion that modern science has all the answers. The truth is much more difficult: the more science advances, the more we discover that we do not know. Before Einstein, "classical" physics thought that our model of matter and energy was almost complete. Einstein's gravity and quantum mechanics together put an end to that thinking. As our knowledge and capabilities have increased, our tools for examining the universe improve dramatically, but as we gather more evidence about the universe, our current models explain less and less of what we observe. In the speed at which galaxies spin, we can see the effects of gravity of matter we cannot see. In the accellerated expansion of the universe, we see the effects of an energy we cannot detect. Our current calculations show that almost all of the universe consists of a "dark matter"," and "dark energystuff whose nature we do not know. Almost all. For decades, this measurement of our ignorance goes up, not down. Modern science is getting to the point that Sun Tzu reached in a single conceptual leap. He realized that each of us only knows what is going on in one human mind. The rest of what people think is "dark thought," human minds that we cannot know. Like scientists observing the universe, we must make our decisions based upon seeing the effects of thoughts and plans we cannot detect. In the face of uncertainty, the biggest danger is the hubris of false certainty. Indeed, progress is always slowed because each generation of scientists clings to outmoded paradigms. Newton battled Cartesian viewpoints in the same way that Eistein later fought against Newtonian notions. Perhaps the biggest struggle in mastering strategy is training the mind to see positions more concretely but at the same time to understand that every position is mostly a mystery.