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Month: September 2020

OODA loops

Building on my earlier posts on paradigm shifts and framing, I continue my interest in the process of shifting perception between models of reality. Paradigm shifts are fundamentally always shifts in the way we perceive reality. Perception itself is the dynamic outcome of the interactions between frames and schema.

When this model of perception is inserted in a complex and chaotically changing environment we end up with a cyclical process involving the reception and processing of external stimuli, followed by action or its absence and a repeated reception of stimuli closing a feedback loop. This process maps very well to Jogn Boyd’s OODA loop concept, where OODA stands for observe-orient-decide-act. The key stage of the OODA loop is orientation, because it is in the orientation stage that external stimuli, and frames, interface with the internal percpetion frame and the schema that form it. In this lecture I discuss the OODA loop concept as a cyclical decision making and feedback process, and focus on the orientation stage as the key aspect of that process.

On framing and schema

We live in interesting times. Times of transition, involving the collapse of an old order and the shift to a new paradigm. Such transitions are often mistaken for technological changes or revolutionary shifts in material conditions. Actually they are neither. Paradigm shifts are fundamentally always shifts of perception, that is, shifts in the way we perceive reality and therefore in the way we act in the world.

Therefore, to understand a paradigm shift we need to understand how perceptions of reality can be modulated and altered at scale. In other words, we need to understand the mechanics of perception. In this lecture I discuss the concepts of schema and frames as the building blocks of the mechanics of perception. I examine the way framing can be used to alter perceptions and discuss the case of Edward Bernays’ Torches of Freedom campaign.