Societal engineering

This started out to be a comment in response to Lyle then it got a little out of scope. The short background story is that Lyle says gun control advocates are vacuous loons and that if we had our act together would have politically crushed them decades ago.

Lyle, It’s a little more complicated than what we would like. Read what Dar Korra’ti has to say to get a feel for just one of the issues involved. Another is, as I like to say, it is irrational to expect people to be rational. For example, people have a very strong tendency to believe what they want to believe regardless of the facts.

Also, many would like to believe that it’s possible to create a perfect world–if only someone was given sufficient power/control/money to do it. They don’t understand that trade-offs are a part of any engineering task whether it is an automobile, a plane, a computer, or a society you are trying to engineer. Most people accept a certain number of automobile, plane, and computer crashes while realizing, at some level, that with the money, time, and other constraints things are working pretty good and certainly they wouldn’t be able to do any better themselves.

But when attempting to engineer a society nearly everyone believes themselves to be an expert and that anything short of perfection is reason to throw some baling wire and duct tape at the perceived deficiency. Then with nothing more than opinion they forge ahead. The rare few that bother to try to put numbers on things and pretend to do an actual engineering analysis almost always only look at one side of the equation. They only look at the potential good that might occur from their changes. They fail to look at the actual and/or potential damage their proposed changes will cause.

Are they “vacuous loons”? Well, yes. But I’m of the opinion that is the present state of the average person and there isn’t much we can do about that. And that a form of society/government in which the loons are unable to participate is likely to have serious deficiencies of its own.