ISIS Executions & Emotional Reactions

Part of predicting is gathering of information and analysis. Another, equally vital component, is the mindset in which these activities occur. For two broad reasons, the ISIS executions should not shock. One reason is that analysis  should have already been performed, anticipating the executions.

But the best predicting also requires a kind of emotional detachment that is contrary to the need to wish for the good, the beautiful, and the true. I have found it useful to imagine, inside my head, a “little man” who feels detached, and who analyzes and predicts on my behalf.

Since computers became widely available, the term “virtual machine” is probably understood by many readers. Psychologists have a term, “empathy”, which is enabled by imagining the thought processes of another, or equivalently, simulating a simplified version of another person’s mind. This is a type of virtual process.

All this was anticipated by the mathematical specialty of estimation theory, which advocates, “Every good predictor contains a model of the system that is the subject of prediction.” Sure enough, in linear systems theory, where prediction and control systems can be drawn as diagrams, there is always a block identifiable as the system model.

So, if you find yourself more than modestly affected by the recent ISIS atrocities, you need to do some work on the part of your self you use for predicting. In my own case, this has resulted in lesser inclination to stomp on my hat and gnash my teeth, but without harm to my soul.

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