Friday, July 28, 2006

Context matters

The New Yorker's James Surowiecki is usually smart and provocative. In the July 31 magazine, he writes about "The Fatal-Flaw Myth" and elaborates Airbus' current woes and the temptation by many to conclude that industrial policy is a loser. Surowiecki suggests that in the not too distant past Boeing also had its problems. We should look at context in addition to innate characteristics.

Of course. It is easy to be fooled; cause and effect are elusive; we are easily fooled by randomness (as in the book).

Fair enough. But industrial policy is a big chunk of context. Spend enough money and government agencies can put men on the Moon. Given them enough money and enough time and they come up with space stations and space shuttles.