It’s really a guessing game

Saturday morning, I read this quote in an article about the Japanese Earthquake in the Washington Post from Dave Wald of the US Geological Survey.

“It’s really just a kind of guessing game, and Mother Nature never really puts up with those guessing games”.

The article also referred to detailed measurement and analysis of the impact of the earthquake that was absolutely predicted to occur, but elsewhere in Japan.

I immediately thought of the book Black Swan by Nassim Taleb that I read recently – it is not just earthquakes where we get caught by these uncertainties – it is in every walk of life. And it is not just seismologists who do an over-detailed analysis of something that it seems can be measured, but at the expense of missing something broader, but not quite so quantifiable.

Not everything can be measured and sometimes (often ?) an informed estimate with limited preciseness is more valuable than an apparently detailed analysis.  A lesson for corporate responsibility practitioners to consider.

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