Oliver Cromwell’s Rule as per Dennis Lindley (1923-1913).

 I am always reminded of Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658), when I think of President George W Bush, Dick Cheney and their oracle Karl Rove: In particular a suggested rule of political decision making in conditions of uncertainty called Cromwell’s Rule after Cromwell:

(See also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dennis_Lindley)

Cromwell’s rule, named by statistician Dennis Lindley, states that the use of prior probabilities of 0 or 1 should be avoided, except when applied to statements that are logically true or false. For instance, Lindley would allow us to say that Pr(2+2 = 4) = 1, where Pr represents the probability. In other words, arithmetically, the number 2 added to the number 2 will certainly equal 4. The reference is to Oliver Cromwell. Cromwell wrote to the synod of the Church of Scotland on August 5 1650, including a phrase that has become well known and frequently quoted:I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible that you may be mistaken.”

What makes me link this to Cromwell’s saying and Lindley’s rule to Bush and company, is the famous quote allegedly made by Karl Rove in 2004 in Bush’s White House: “The aide (Rove) said that guys like me were “in what we call the reality-based community,” which he defined as people who “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” … “That’s not the way the world really works anymore,” he continued. “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors … and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”

As he spoke the Iraqi insurgency was really starting to get underway. Such is Karl Rove hubris.


About creativeconflictwisdom

I spent 32 years in a Fortune Five company working on conflict: organizational, labor relations and senior management. I have consulted in a dozen different business sectors and the US Military. I work with a local environmental non profit. I have written a book on the neuroscience of conflict, and its implications for conflict handling called Creative Conflict Wisdom (forthcoming).
This entry was posted in Conflict History, Conflict Humor, Conflict Processes, Middle East Conflict, Philosophy of Conflict, US Political Conflict and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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