Emery's Law

Emery’s Law: Any social phenomenon is more complex than you imagine, even when you take into account Emery’s Law.

By any, I mean phenomena like:

  • The riots in Baltimore in the Spring of 2015.
  • Police treatment of individuals.
  • Distribution of privilege.
  • Compensation schemes.
  • Testing.
  • Estimating.
  • A stream of comments on Youtube, Reddit, Twitter, Facebook, …
  • Steve Earle’s concert at the Crest Theater in Sacramento on April 29, 2015.
  • A kiss.
  • A shared glance.
  • This blog post.
  • The woefully limited range of categories I was able to think of as I constructed this list.

One implication of Emery’s Law: Your understanding of any social phenomenon is incomplete.

My advice: Whatever conclusions you draw about any social phenomenon, no matter how simple it seems, hold them tentatively.

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