Sep 1, 2021 • 55M

Ep33 – Hubris and Misaligned Incentives: Mental Models in a Time of War

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In this episode of Mentally Unscripted, Paul and Scott talk about the mental models that we can use to make better decisions in our foreign policy with a focus on military conflict.

Resources

Top Takeaways

  • Mental Models can help clarify complex situations plagued with conflicting information, lack of an objective, and competing interests.

  • Our moral foundation may differ from that of another person or group of people. No one has the blanket authority to impose their morality on others.

  • Misaligned incentives and hubris combine to create a no-win situation.

  • In any case, we must make sure we’ve accurately defined the problem. Then we must seek out the optimal solution for solving that problem.

  • Decisions have tradeoffs that we must consider.

Timestamps
[0:20] Introduction.

[1:15] Did the U.S. fail in Afghanistan? Was the only failure for some interested parties that they couldn’t keep the war going?

[3:51] Military as a business.

[5:42] Why we invaded Afghanistan.

[7:01] Did the U.S. have an end in mind?

[9:11] Some models we can use when politicians and media tell us we need to consider armed conflict.

[13:04] Can we impose our morals on other cultures?

[18:21] The lesson is that we cannot and should not nation-build. Nation-building is a failed experiment.

[18:46] Cost/benefit analysis of invading the “Graveyard of Empires.”

[23:16] For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction and reversibility.

[26:49] Framework for rational decision making. Have we defined the problem correctly, and do we have the best solution for solving that problem?

[31:46] Bayesian casino. How much are you willing to bet on a given outcome happening?

[32:29] How over-optimism leads to bad decisions.

[35:28] Don’t keep going because of sunk costs.

[37:40] How shifting goalposts muddied the waters.

[38:55] Models for exiting 20 years of armed conflict.

[41:35] Did Biden make a mistake by not priming the U.S. for the difficulty in leaving Afghanistan?

[43:11] Logistics failures.

 

Engage with Scott and Paul on the Twitter thought control machine.

Follow Scott at Strength and Reason.