This is like when people tell me about their friends who are engineers who are dedicated Trumpists. You can be skilled at something but in terms of emotional intelligence be a cinder block. Or you can be a street sweeper and still know right from wrong and truth from bullshit. /1
One of the things you learn when you examine "foxes" (broad knowledge) vs "hedgehogs" (deep but narrow learning) is that hedgehogs are often the wrongest people there are once outside their own field. /2
Recommending the book here by @PTetlock on this, but in general, people with super-deep but narrow knowledge can be a lot dumber about a lot of other things because all they know is that one thing they're good at. /3
So it's not a surprise to me when people say "my dad was a chemical engineer but believes everything Hannity says" because he might be the kind of guy who, once outside engineering, is a complete moron about everything else. /4
I have encountered people who practically savants this way. Ask them to explain Fermat's Theorem or something, no problem. Ask them about anything else, and it's like talking to a wall (and not just politics). Even worse "hedgehogs" overestimate their own abilities this way. /5
This is the educated person's Dunning-Kruger. "I am brilliant at computer science, so I am brilliant at everything and that's why I am able to grasp things in ways you think are stupid, because I am so smart, S-M-R-T smart!" It's a problem with narrow specialization - often. /6
That's one reason the most successful senior people in an organization are "foxes," and why promoting the best engineer to be the head of all engineering sometimes results in disaster. Narrow rises fast but stops; Broad and integrative rises more slowly but goes farther. /7
Anyway, it is not really a contradiction to say "your dad the neurosurgeon who watches Fox is stupid," because outside of neurosurgery, your dad might be dumber than hair about basic elements of logic and reasoning outside of his narrow craft. It's a common thing. /8x

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More from @RadioFreeTom

1 May
A couple of comments on this important piece by Flounoy, from a military education perspective. And remember, I don't speak for the war college or DoD or anyone but me. I don't disagree with anything here, but I want to amplify a point about personnel and education. /1
Every time we realize that our thinking is too hidebound, we get all kinds of trendy demands from the DoD: Do stuff in Chinese! Or Arabic! More high-tech education! Learn about technology! And culture! And it's a lot of band-aids that say: "Teach engineers to be strategic." /2
The problem is that when educators say: "Not only should our guys read 'The Thucydides Trap,' they maybe should read, you know, Thucydides first," the answer is: "No, not that old dusty crap, something relevant and hip! About technology and stuff!" It's a constant pressure. /3
Read 14 tweets
25 Apr
Today when we were picking arbitrary "best 10 or 20 years of pop music," we all disagreed of course, but I don't think it's just that you pick the years of your youth. Rock was born in the 50s, and has had life stages. Not an expert, but will opine for a sec.
cc @dcherring

@dcherring I totally get that people might point to 1955 to 1965 as the greatest period of ferment and change, going from Perry Como to the Beatles in just ten years. It's an amazing time. "She Loves You" still sounds ...revolutionary to me, as music. Dylan. Elvis. I get it. /2
But that music is still tentative and commercial and produced in mono by old guys. From 1965 onward rock goes from a youth yawp to a no-shit art form. Soon the acts that are big are guys who wanted to be the Beatles or Elvis when they were kids. It's the next generation. /2
Read 13 tweets
24 Apr
So, here's the thing. The "mission" is "prevent the use of nuclear weapons against the United States." The problem is endless scenario planning about warfighting use, which is ludicrous but it's what planners get paid for. /1
That's not to say planning and wargaming is a bad idea, because the President needs more options than "screw it, incinerate the planet." But the idea that "I need X warheads for the mission" is pretty much 1960 thinking. This is a throwback to "destroy X Soviet ability." /2
At every stage of nuclear reductions, someone said "Okay, but any lower and we're in mortal peril." Lower than 20,000? Peril. 6000? Peril limit. 2200? Threshold of Hell. This is baked into U.S. nuclear planning and never changes. /3
Read 10 tweets
20 Apr
I should have know that people would be "whatabouting" this and would whine about one comment about Biden.

Biden is the president. Sequestered or not, the chief executive can and should set an example by respecting the deliberations of a jury. He's not just another pundit. /1
It was not some huge or fatal error. But if you care about the rule of law, you do not want the president ahead of time speculating about the "right" verdict. That's something Trump would do. Presidents should say: "I have faith in the justice system." Period. /2
It doesn't *matter* that they were sequestered. That's not the issue. The issue is that if they'd gone any other way, the President would be in the position of saying "well, the jury got it wrong." You don't want Presidents in that position. Not a huge error, just unwise. /3
Read 4 tweets
18 Apr
There are plenty of military folks who value education; military is sending one of my uniformed students for a PhD at a top school. (I am being vague to protect privacy.) But increasingly, I note that there are many who also say things like "Harvard" with dripping contempt. /1
Some of this is the recent division between conservative America the rest of the country over those commie pinko university socialists, but that's always been present in the military: Bob Gates pleaded to "embrace the eggheads" when he was SECDEF. /2
But I could tell you stories that go way back, like the ROTC student who got into an Ivy League school and her service didn't want to pay for it. "Why should I send you there when I can send five of you to a public school?"
And they complain that the elitists won't join up. /3
Read 6 tweets
18 Apr
And yes, since I am critical of how military education works - the place I've spent my career - I will say more at another time about it. But the problem with PME is simple: It's run by the military. /1
That is, PME institutions are intended to create a fusing of civilian and military education to produce a better officer corps, more agile, more intellectually flexible to face the challenges ahead even if we can't be sure what they are. /2
My own school - FOR WHOM I DO NOT SPEAK, if that's not clear enough - has for 50 years been trying to prevent the intellectual civil-military rift that created Vietnam. VADM Turner's convocation address back in the 70s is very clear on this. /3
Read 8 tweets

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