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January 9th, 2017

A Closer Look at Ambiguity

By Ron Nakamoto

"Just about everyone dislikes the feeling of not knowing the answer to an important question about what’s going to happen in the future…It’s not uncommon to hear people mired in these sorts of limbos say that they’d prefer hearing about a terrible outcome than continue waiting to find out…history, recent and otherwise, is replete with examples of catastrophic blunders made as a result of leaders’ inability to deal with ambiguity." – Jesse Singal

The article below reviews the main ideas from the book "Nonsense: The Power of Not Knowing" by Jamie Holmes. Holmes says that ambiguity triggers to varying degrees our human need for closure. The main takeaway for me is that dealing with ambiguity is an exercise in patience, deliberate decision-making, and scenario planning; of thinking through alternatives and not rushing to judgement.

Singal's review provides a clear example of this need for closure and its potential negative consequences in the retelling of the story of the 1993 negotiations between the U.S. government and David Koresh, the leader of the Branch Dividians. It's worth a quick read.

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The Bad Things That Happen When People Can’t Deal With Ambiguous Situations

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