Thought Archive

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Uncertainty Equals Fear

People are so afraid of uncertainty! This is a key observation, for it is a wild and untamed nature that is feared, whereas order and predictability is always lauded. In some ways unruly, wild, or for that matter mentally ill, people are feared and shunned. Anything unpredictable - like the strange people's behaviour, weather, and in general all the as concepts that are unknowable through reason are despised. But what makes the uncertainty so strange and so feared?

Risk is a concept that is easy to define, and sometimes is described as “uncertainty based on a well grounded (quantitative) probability”. Gambling relies on the feelings of knowing the risks and being in control. Genuine uncertainty, on the other hand, cannot be assigned such a probability, or any probability at all. Furthermore, genuine uncertainty can often not be reduced significantly by attempting to gain more information about the phenomena in question and their causes. (Andersen et. al.: Modelling Society’s Capacity to Manage Extraordinary Events, 2004.). In fact this total uncertainty means something that is no longer has any definition – it has no bounds and no ranges, and can not be reduced at all.
This ultimate uncertainty is unknowable. It is far removed from the narrower end of the uncertainty paradigm, which lies within well-defined set of ranges. Unknowable uncertainty is the unpredicted one, which all faculties of reason can not comprehend. Some people define the risk of discreet outcomes within this uncertainty range happening as a pure chance (an example of heads or tails carried into infinity). But this is not so, for it is obvious specific laws might actually govern the situation, but we do know know which and thus unable to pronounce reasonable judgement.

This ultimate uncertainty, is what people really fear. For it is unpredictable, and thus it makes us uncomfortable, in the absense of blind conviction. And we will never know, until the eckoning.

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