Saturday, April 27, 2013

Data vs. Feelings (What Seems Irrational To You Seems Very Rational To Me)

"Shouting" via, "Teaching Cultural Diffusion in Medieval China"

There are definitely two kinds of people in this world, "data people" and "feelings people" (Myers-Briggs: Thinkers and Feelers or Ts and Fs). 
  • "Data people" tend to do work aimed at maximizing efficiency on a mechanical level. Currency traders, policy analysts, surgeons, programmers.
  • "Feelings people" tend to do work aimed at enabling psychological & social adaptation. Parents, nurses, psychologists and counselors, customer service.
Most of the time each one has no idea what the other one is talking about.

In addition there are some people who take the existence of G-d for granted while others are vehemently agnostic or disagree. Each can be terribly offended by the other to the point where they will in effect stick their fingers in their ears going "la-la-la, I can't hear you" with the sentiment being that the other person is responsible for all the world's ills. (Singlehandedly.)

This is a sorry state of affairs because in the real world data and feelings not only go together but they overlap. And the spiritual realm - or how about this, let's call it the intangible - has a reality as well. Whether you believe in G-d or not, a room has a "vibe," people have "auras" and so on beyond what we can see and measure.

All of this matters more today than it did in the past. Because to get work done you have to be able to consider all factors related to efficiency at once. 
  • It's not enough for your hands to work so that you can sew a shirt. 
  • Remembering how to do the surgery, or what the case law is - only goes so far. 
  • It's nice, but often inadequate if all you can do is hold someone's hand while they cry. 
  • And talking hocus-pocus about good and bad vibes can get people laughing at you.
At the end of the day what data people are looking for - is the most output with the least use of resources. And what feelings people want is the highest level of adjustment in the most challenging set of circumstances.

It's not necessary to understand or master what other people do. You can't anyway, you were not built to know all things. But at least you can credit them for knowing something. When we acknowledge that all of us live on different planets, and that the scenery has some merits, we're in a better place to work together the way we need to. Rather than simply shout each other down.