Tuesday, 20 August 2013



The cockroach’s ganglion's are programmed to address the unforeseeable, primal risk that has escaped our axiomatic approach to probability and risk measurement. It might have escaped us because we do not readily admit to being subjected to this type of risk, a risk that we might describe as “free-floating anxiety,” or perhaps because by construction it is a risk that we can do little to address.

The cockroach and the furu are just two of many examples I can cite in biology to illustrate the benefits of coarse behavior and the perils of fine-tuned behavior in reacting to the broad range of natural uncertainty. Many species seem to have gotten the message, displaying coarse behavior that appears to ignore information or fails to differentiate when a focused and finely differentiated behavior would appear to be optimal. For example, the great tit does not forage solely on the small set of plants that maximize its nutritional intake; it will forage on plants with a lower nutritional value and fly afield in order to do so. The salamander does not fully differentiate between small and large flies in its diet. It will forage on smaller flies even though....

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