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George Soros used his understanding of the principles of fallibility and reflexivity to develop a conceptual framework which helped him make money as a hedge fund manager and spend money as a policy-oriented philanthropist. This framework that he developed is based on the relationship between thinking and reality.

External links:

- Soros: General Theory of Reflexivity: http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/2/0ca06172-bfe9-11de-aed2-00144feab49a.html#axzz3oEdZAgoh

Fallibility: Edit

Soros: In situations that have thinking participants, the participants’ view of the world is always partial and distorted.

Neil’s paraphrase: Our understanding is always biased and incomplete.

Reflexivity: Edit

Soros: These distorted views can influence the situation to which they relate because false views lead to inappropriate actions.

Neil’s paraphrase: Our understanding of reality shapes that reality.

== In essence, we have a limited and fallible view of the world. That view however, shapes the way perceive reality and in turn, how we act. Most people operate within the limited confines of their worldview. #solipsism == Neil created a process with the acronym, BACU (Best Available Current Understanding Protocol), to help us to break out of the tendency to view a situation or someone with our limited lens:

1.      Articulate my understanding: my mould that I am using to make sense of things

2.      Challenge it!!

3.      Review the BACUP

A Neil exercise to try:

Think about someone who you regularly encounter – at least see around – about whom you have a less than favorable view. Let us call this person The Subject. Further, it should be the case that not all people like yourself (i.e., who share a similar social relation to the subject) holds such a view about The Subject. Your reasons for holding the less than favorable view shouldn’t be (too) personal. As an example, it shouldn’t be the case that The Subject stole your car, took it on a joy ride, and then torched it.

Now that you have someone in mind, you should do the following:

1. Explain why you hold a less than favorable view of The Subject. What is the basis for your view? Feel free to use a bit of literary license by changing names and details in order to preserve anonymity. (I don’t want to know who the person is.)

2. Explain why you believe it is the case that not everyone holds the same unfavorable view of The Subject.

3. Now the hard one: Try to actively disconfirm some of your ideas about The Subject. See whether you can observe – not just imagine – whether there are some things that the person does that might weaken your unfavorable view of him or her. Feel free to be active: Initiate an interaction – maybe just a quick stop-and-chat – in order to get some data. Try to view The Subject’s behavior through the eyes of someone who doesn’t hold an unfavorable view of him or her. Explain how you actively sought out disconfirming evidence and what you concluded.

4. Evaluate whether your confidence in your prior view of The Subject has changed.

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