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Mastering Uncertainty

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The Confucian curse: ‘May you always live in interesting times’, seems to be upon us. Quite apart from the western banking crisis and the fundamental flaws of debt driven economics, the pressure of international and interpersonal competition for basic resources, attention and fulfilment can only intensify as the planets population balloons, in one generation, from six to nine billion people. In this context our social interactions and decision-making are likely to continue to become more demanding, more complex and uncertain as commercial competition and media intensity increase. With increasing levels of uncertainty our rational decision-making will eventually reach a natural limit. Prolonged uncertainty will then become a genuine evolutionary pressure that demands a response.

Some people enjoy uncertainty whilst in others it creates a stress reaction, so should we attempt to lift the Confucian curse? Whilst the curse is unlikely to be lifted by attempts to rid ourselves of uncertainty Stephen Reid believes it would be in our collective interest to consider how we will help people deal with increasingly challenging and uncertain environments. How we choose to respond as individuals and as a society to prolonged uncertainty will shape the quality of our future and our sense of wellbeing. Stephen Reid proposes that we make a variety of alternative-thinking-skills widely available to enable individuals and groups to make value-adding, life-affirming decisions, even in highly uncertain conditions. The open question then is, ‘What would it take to Master Uncertainty?’

This talk is part of the Social Psychology Seminar Series (SPSS) series.

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