I am always fascinated by macro views – those all encompassing views of complex interactions we tend to think of as simple and explainable when in reality they are terribly complicated and intertwined. Let me give you some examples.
Ever stop and wonder what the rules and mechanisms of automobile traffic patterns might look like to a distant observer? What he might notice is that traffic flows appear to be regulated by a simple change in light frequencies (traffic lights) – ignoring the complex rule sets associated with them. He probably would deduce that the cars themselves responded to the random changing light frequencies (he wouldn’t be aware of the complex beings inside them) and that there was perhaps a simple explanation for it all.
An even greater mystery might be the distance between each car and how it is regulated at high speeds – without knowledge of the complex beings inside, it might seem there’s probably a simple explanation of how it works built into the car itself.
Or take a media server. Pick up an iPad and scroll through hundreds of album covers, choose one, select from its contents and start playing music. It just does what it does easily and without any knowledge of the complex systems that run it, one could deduce there’s probably a simple explanation of how it works.
Nothing could be farther from the truth. I refer to these over simplified views we all make as macro distortions.
When you make an assumption that there’s probably a simple explanation how anything works, it probably means you haven’t looked very closely.
Everything is extremely complex – we just tend to keep it simple so we can grasp it.