Who Runs the World: Data
A Core Problem With Human Data Processing: Epistemic Circularity in ActionMehmet Selim Derindere
Managers are expected to solve critical problems of our society in an efficient manner and in ways so that the problems remain solved. In order to accomplish this, the managers are provided with vast amounts of resources including mountains of data and a wide variety of problem-solving methods available. On the other hand, the effectiveness of social and organizational problem solving is far from satisfactory and this lack of effectiveness is ubiquitous. One reason for this ineffectiveness we claim has to do with how the human mind works. The inherent capabilities and limitations of human mind coupled with social-cognitive skills lead to sub-par problem-solving. An especially counterproductive problem-solving approach used by managers is setting and attempting to solve problems using erroneous cognitive skills that not only fails to include relevant data but also uses the existing data in a counterproductive manner. The very data processing skills of managers make problem-solving a dead end for the actors involved at great cost to them and to the society. This chapter looks at a core human data processing problem that renders the available data and techniques ineffective. Epistemic Circularity disregards all the disconfirming or threatening data and fails to include it in the problem solution. Epistemic Circularity thus renders the relevant data useless in developing effective solutions. Easy knowledge, a product of epistemic circularity, leads to ineffective problem solving which in many cases result in exacerbated problems and counterproductive consequences.