A LITTLE METACOGNITION FROM HERMAN KAHN
The late Herman Kahn
was mentioned over at the Glittering Eye
recently in a comment by Robin Burke
of Winds of Change during a discussion on PNM Theory. While Kahn was best known as a nuclear strategist he was a true polymath and it would be very interesting to speculate what he might have had to say about Dr. Barnett's book and PNM
Here is an article
posted at Hudson
by Herman Kahn where he analyzes the intellectual process that goes in to strategic thinking. Read it in full but here's a taste:
"Three basic choices must be made in the construction of basic contexts, alternative futures, and scenarios. The first is to choose between the extrapolative approach and the goal-seeking (or goal-avoiding), normative approach. In the extrapolative technique one examines an existing situation, selects certain tendencies that seem important or relevant, and then extrapolates these tendencies in a more or less sophisticated fashion. Various policy measures that might affect these projections and change the trends or results can then be examined.
The normative (or goal-oriented) approach, by contrast, involves first setting up some future context or scenario that is either desirable to achieve or avoid, and then asking what sequence of events might lead to the realization of this objective. In many cases, a relatively implausible goal is examined, such as the achievement of a world government or total arms control, and then this goal is compared with the current situation and its most likely extrapolation. To connect the present and the postulated goal, it may be necessary to modify the image of the current world and that of the future world, and perhaps to use relatively implausible scenarios. These distortions are justified because the aim is to focus attention or discussion on some unlikely but absolutely important event or educational dimension."
America needs fewer assistant secretaries of really- pretentious- policy wonk- ticket- punching-look- Ma- I'm- on- MSNBC- careerism and a whole lot more Herman Kahns.