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The sadness of course is that people have tried to ascribe significance to these cycles as criticisms of ways of running economies, without taking the context into account.

The late physicist Per Bak argued that it is a problem of historical narratives that people try to ascribe significance to what might just be fortuitous chains of events. Technically, in an open, complex system a state of "self-organised criticality" is attained in which small random causes can have disproportionately large cascading effects. From outside the system, only the statistical properties of these "avalanches" are meaningful, but from within the system every little building block has a significance and so a narrative gets constructed to explain the observed succession of events as a meaningful causative chain. A constant case of post hoc ergo propter hoc, in a way.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Dec 8th, 2006 at 07:41:32 AM EST
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