Serious Legislative Innumeracy

Friday, December 7th, 2007

As I’ve already mentioned, in Serious Play, Michael Schrage, of the MIT Media Lab, examines how organizations use models, simulations, and prototypes to stimulate innovation.

Sometimes even a valid model doesn’t guarantee useful communication:

A congressman who favored a “soft-technology” approach to U.S. energy needs was discussing demand projection with a modeler. He pointed out that adequate conservation measures and modest lifestyles could reduce growth of electrical demand to 2 percent per year. “But Congressman,” said the modeler, “even at 2 percent per year, electrical demand will double in thirty-five years.”

“That’s your opinion!” exclaimed the congressman.

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