I am a big fan of mental models. They simplify and clarify events going on around us. They cut to the quick by highlighting our self sabotage. Perhaps why so many choose to avoid them. Mental models illustrate the need for self examination. They call for hard work and a great many prefer to avoid that.
Mental models challenge our inflated sense of superiority. They break through the layer of protection we give our fragile egos. A perfect example of a mental model is the Dunning-Kruger effect. Once you understand you are effected by it, a new standard for living is required.
I want to share with you a mental model I think is extremely helpful. I call it the Chauncy Gardiner Syndrome. This syndrome plagues many- particularly in the crypto-sphere.
The Chauncy Gardiner Syndrome (CGS)- When we attribute intelligent design to what would otherwise be considered stupid behavior.
CGS is insidious. To identify it, we need to understand Occam’s Razor. We must learn to accept the more simple explanation of events.
One big example of CGS, occurred in the American Revolutionary war, where conspiracy theory fueled the rebellion of the colonies. Such theories attributed evil intentions to what was really just stupid policy, carried out by a king gone mad. The irony here is that King George’s madness may have been the result of bad medicine, given by inept medical practitioners. Stupidity has a way of compounding itself, such that one stupid action results in another stupid action, until eventually it is difficult not to attribute intelligent design to a set of otherwise moronic acts.
Bitcoin itself was created in response to inept monetary policy. So many attributed evil design to the Fed’s policies- a plot to enslave the world by a cabal of evil bankers. The idea that such policy was simply the result of stupid actions, carried out by otherwise intelligent people, never dawned on anyone. Such thinking is all to uncomfortable, because if the smart folks are capable of such stupidity, then we begin to see reality for the chaotic and scary thing it is. We can’t have that. Better to have sinister leaders, than stupid ones.
CGS was one of the principle guiding factors behind John Nash’s notion of an ideal money. He argued that money makes us irrational, that we are compelled by it to abandon restraint. Our sense of modesty and constancy is surrendered in favor of decadence. We needed something to keep us in check.
Humans not only tend towards irrationality- they are actually seduced by it. Nash saw through CGS, something a great many are unable to do. He was therefore able to hit at the heart of our problem with mathematical precision.
There are many more such examples of CGS that rob us of our ability to see clearly. Both in the crypto-sphere and in our daily lives. For the sake of brevity, I will just leave you with one more. We are currently knee deep in CGS within the current political environment. Both sides see only evil, sinister actions in the other side. They attribute intelligent design to stupid ideas. We seem headed again towards a collision with our own ignorance. At the heart of such “sound and fury” is money. Money is politics, after all.
Next time you are in a heated debate over politics, think of CGS. While you are at it, think again how desperately we need ideal money. I hope- for all our sakes- one emerges soon.