Making the Case for Nonsense

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Making the Case for Nonsense

I suspect this discussion is going to surprise you as much as it surprised me.  The topic is Nonsense, but not Nonsense by its classic definition.  No, this Nonsense is quite different, and, frankly, sometimes it chokes me up. Just published a month ago, Nonsense: The Power of Not Knowing is the title of a new book by Jamie Holmes. Jamie is a Future Tense Fellow at New America, a non-profit, think-tank / forum / media platform that promotes the intellectual study of politics, prosperity and purpose. Part science, part exposé, part business lesson, Nonsense will surely leave you looking at your world very differently. It is extremely well-researched, easy to understand and, truly, just fascinating. Specifically, Jamie’s Nonsense promotes ambiguity, its great utility for big decision-making, and its role in improved outcomes. And he makes a very good case for it. Not what you expected, right? In my lifetime, I have never handled ambiguity well. To me, it’s anxiety-producing limbo. It’s the road to hell – not knowing – not having the answers I think I need – not knowing how to deal with an important situation because I don’t have the important details. To me, ambiguity becomes an additional problem that just exacerbates the original problem. I can’t solve my problem or formulate my plan when I don’t have all the facts. I raise this today for a few very different reasons. Primary among them is that ambiguity and its resulting fear, uncertainty, or doubt are at the core of every reason patients look for help from advocates!  So it follows that a book that proves the claim that ambiguity can play a positive role in outcomes requires us to pay attention. Now, I’ll confess, this is not a book I would have just picked up to read on my own – not these days. Not that I wouldn’t love to take the time to read it – I certainly would. Back in my pre-self-employed days I loved nothing more than to delve into great business-thinking-theory books – authors like Malcolm Gladwell or Steven Levitt or Dan Ariely. …

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