That Decisive Qualitative Edge

So I am reading this book called “Israel’s Edge.”


It’s basically about their elite genius program, “Talpiot,” in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).  


Each year the program accepts only the top 50 out of 100,000 graduating high school students for a 9-year commitment. 


There are the mathematicians, physicists, and computer scientists that help give the IDF the cutting edge in military R&D and other innovations. 


These are the brain trust behind Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system and Trophy tank active protection system and many more both military and industrial advances. 


This program was born after the almost disastrous 1973 Yom Kippur War where Israel misjudged the intelligence and the advances in their enemies capability and almost lost the war. 


I like the philosophy of General Yitzhak Ben-Israel who understands the importance of challenging the status quo and looking differently at critical situations and avoiding confirmation bias:

My method is not to look for supporting evidence. I look for refuting evidence…you see one white swan, then a second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth. You still can’t conclude that all swans are white…nature builds us to be inductive, to make generalizations from past experience…this standard way of scientific thinking can be limiting and destructive.”

Instead we must be continuously curious, think outside the box, be creative, and innovate. 


Especially, where we don’t have a quantitative advantage like with Israel surrounded by many enemies, then we must rely on a very sharp qualitative edge. 😉


(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal) 

The Fine Line Between Fantasy and Reality

So I’ve started to realize that there are at times a (very) thin line between fantasy and reality. 


In some cases, people hear some facts or some truth, and then in their mind, they concoct entire stories of fantasy or full-fledged conspiracy around it.


But more than that, the fantasy in their minds, because it starts with a real fact or two then becomes entirely perceived as reality itself. 


We saw plenty of this in the last election cycle and even today, with one political side or the other purchasing phony dossiers or making up stories about the opposition–and they may even have some underlying facts associated with it. 


But around these facts, entire scripts and stories are concocted through inductive reasoning or highly imaginative thinking, whether for example, of deep Russian conspiracies reminiscent of the era of McCarthyism or the Salem Witch Trails of yesteryear. 


Again, I’m not saying that nothing is there, but the question is whether there is real truth then to the whole conspiracy that has been drawn from fantastical minds of opposition agents, reporters, and others gainfully benefiting and perhaps running amuck with these grandiose versions of alternate reality?


What I am coming to believe is that it’s not so much that people are willfully making up these stories (although there can certainly be plenty of biases, exaggerations, and agendas at work as well), but that in their mind, they create these bombastic versions of what seems like truth to them and then they pawn it off and sell it to others who are only to happy to latch unto some juicy new gossip or theory of “what’s really going on.”


Similarly, some people who get very mad may actually take albeit a genuine fight with another person and pour layer upon layer of evil doings and manipulations on them until by the time their mind is done, the other person has become the devil themselves–and the fantasy for a short time seems like it is the reality–until such time that cooler heads prevail and reality replaces the mind’s fantasy or it’s ultimate fears. 


In short, there is a very fine line between fantasy and reality–our minds can get carried away with facts or notions of the moment and build those into full-fledged conspiracy theories of “who done it” and “why didn’t we see it all along.”


Certainly, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t some very good pretenders out there who truly are doing very bad things and covering their tracks, and it’s for the gifted and detective minds out there to perceive those and prove them as being the greater reality.


But we have to be careful in accusing people–until such time that the facts are all there and the perception or fantasy of our mind’s eye is shown to be the reality indeed. 


We need good investigative journalism, excellent law enforcement and intelligence, and clarity of mind to know what’s real and what’s fake in life and in our fantastical minds. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)