“As the news seems to get more and more distressing with each passing day, the sense that we need to solve our problems quickly grows stronger. The recent issue of The Economist called for swift action not only in Greece, but France, Saudi Arabia, the United States, Syria and Egypt. In each piece, their writers also warned that things could only get much worse if the wrong step was taken.
In order to do so, we as a society have been scouring our histories for clues and insight, examining past fiscal crises, revolutions, and periods of political deadlock in the hopes of finding answers. We not only want to know what happened the last time around, but we also (understandably) want to know how we got out of that mess in the end. Such an interpretation of the discipline relies upon three key statements being true:
1. In order to make use of history –and of information in general– we must take it as a given that we are not only rational beings, capable of seeing the difference between a good and a poor decision, but also beings who constantly learn from our past mistakes and are therefore equipped to make better decisions in the future.
2. This also depends upon a notion of improved, forward progress and that anything to the contrary is going “backwards in time” to a period of less sophistication, which means that we won’t be able to tackle challenging problems.
3. It assumes that the discipline itself can be impartial, objective, and scrubbed clean of bias in such a way as to allow the clear cut study of cause and effect, which then helps one learn from their mistakes and move forward…”»
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